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Washington’s new Discover Pass does not apply to people riding bikes

Well, here’s yet another reason to ride your bike on your weekend getaway this summer. In order to help close a huge funding gap, Washington State Parks is instituting a new vehicle license fee that goes into effect July 1. The Discover Pass will cost $30 per vehicle per year.

However, this pass is only required if you drive a car or ride a motorcycle. People on foot and on bike don’t need one. Those are some significant savings.

But wait, aren’t state parks usually kinda far from Seattle? How am I going to get there and get back in time for work?

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Well, Seattle Bike Blog is officially declaring this summer the year of the bike/bus camping combo. For example, want to go to Squeak Mountain? It would be a pretty good ride there, or you can throw your bike on the 554 and start your journey from Issaquah. Not too shabby, especially if you are making it a day trip.

The Seattle region has a dynamic transportation network that lends itself to all kinds of great combos if you are on bike. Riding your bike onto a ferry saves you money and can get you far away from the city in a fun way (see our previous post about a trip to Whidbey Island via bike/ferry). Express buses can extend the range of places to camp or hike.

Plus, why would you want to begin and end your getaway by being super stressed out behind the wheel of a car on a hideous Interstate?

In other regional getaway news, Biking Bis reports that not only does the Snoqualmie Tunnel reopen July 5 after years of being closed, but the Bus-Up 90 service will take bikers from the Cedar Falls trailhead to the Hyak trailhead near Snoqualmie pass and the reopened tunnel. That sounds like quite the head start.

So technically you could bus from Seattle to North Bend, ride to the Bus-Up 90 shuttle, ride down the mountain, ride back to North Bend and bus back. All car-free, all in one day (though you wouldn’t have much time to take in the scenery, the last 209 from North Bend leaves before 7 p.m.). Or you can just ride more of it and take your time.

From Biking Bis:

The bus service is designed for cyclists who want a lift to the summit for an easy 23-mile ride downhill.

The shuttle can accommodate 21 passengers and bicycles; it runs on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

As part of the old Milwaukee Road, the John Wayne Pioneer Rail-Trail rises at a steady 2% grade from Cedar Falls to the Snoqualmie Pass at Hyak. Near the summit, it passes through the 2.3-mile long Snoqualmie Tunnel.

While I’ve maintained it’s more fulfilling to ride the length of the trail through the Iron Horse State Park, up and down, the shuttle bus provides a good service to families or those who aren’t quite up to the uphill grade.

Do you have any suggestions for other bike/bus/ferry trips, either for one day or several? There were several good ideas in the comments of our previous story, but there are so many options in the region that we have yet to scrape the surface of possibilities.

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4 responses to “Washington’s new Discover Pass does not apply to people riding bikes”

  1. doug in seattle

    A great day trip for the adventurous and strong-legged is to take a bus to Issaquah, ride over High Point and down into Snoqualmie Valley, then to Carnation. From there ride up into the Marckworth State Forest, which is full of awesome dirt-road riding and pretty forest scenes, including amazing waterfalls and mini-gorges. The main route will spit you out on Ben Howard Road on the banks of the Skykomish. From there ride to Duvall for buses back to Seattle. Mileage is somewhere in the 50 – 60 region, and riding back to Seattle pushes it into the 85 miles range.

    Also excellent is the Green River Gorge area, near Enumclaw. Strong riders can make a day of it. The gorge is awesome, and there’s a cool ghost-town cemetery nearby. Also, the Black Diamond Bakery is worth a stop.

    Later this week I’m heading out to the Coal Creek area of Cougar Mountain on my bike.

    Tiger Mtn. is a fun bike and hike.

    Tahuya State Forest across the Sound is good for people with dirt-road proclivities.

    Lots of options!

  2. Adventure Cycling Association’s http://bikeovernights.org/ is a good resource for shorter bike camping trips that can be accomplished in, you guessed it, two days and one night. There are a couple posted on there for the Seattle area. I tried out the Port Townsend trip last weekend and am planning on doing the Green Mountain trip this weekend.

    A couple points tips about the Port Townsend route:
    – After you cross the Hood Canal Bridge, take a left on Shine Rd rather than continuing west on 104. Shine Rd’s right next to the water, quiet, and purdy.

    – After you reconnect with 104, keep an eye out on your right for Shine Quarry. If it’s after working hours you might consider riding along the Quarry Rd…

    – I don’t see any advantage to taking Oak Bay Rd over continuing on Beaver Valley Rd. Oak Bay is on the water, but you can’t really even see the water from the road. Plus, there’s way more car traffic on Oak Bay Rd. If you DO take Oak Bay Rd, be very wary at the intersection with Hiller Drive, just south of Oak Bay Park. There’s a red house on the west side of Oak Bay Rd (you can see it from Streetview) that has an enormous unleashed (?!?!?!) pitbull. It chased me for about 100 yards.

    – Old Fort Townsend is also a good camping option. It’s about 3 miles south of Port Townsend.

    – Definitely avail yourself of the beautiful Larry Scott Trial, which connects the Port Townsend shipyard, to the Old Mill and points further south on Hwy 20. It’s the most visually stunning section of the entire route…and there’s a brewery at the end.

  3. J

    Squeak Mountain?!? is that a new Disney ride on the east side? or do you mean Squak Mountain?

  4. I took the family bike camping up the Suiattle River Road last summer. About 10 miles of the road is currently closed to motor vehicles. The road is largely in great shape and the “bad” spots are short and easy to get through… even with a trailer full of kids + gear. We drove to the trail head (road barricade) but I imagine one could bus to Darrington and ride to the Suiattle Riv Rd from there. There’s a sandbar near Downey Creek that is perfect for a sunny picnic and letting the kids play in relative safety from the river’s swift current.

    There’s been much rhetoric about this road closure. Don’t believe the doom sayers who purport that this area is inaccessible with the road closed to motor vehicles. It’s an excellent weekend bike camping trip or just ride the road to access the hiking trails to points beyond the road. Beautiful country high and low.

    Also, no pass required to park a car at the barricade.

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