Bicitoro: A cycling wine tour of Whidbey Island


Whidbey is beautiful by bike

This is an open request to all Seattle bike travelers: We want to hear about your one-day or weekend-long bike trip.

Martina at Swift Industries (a SBB sponsor) wrote a post here last year with a few suggestions for bike camping destinations reachable from Seattle. But there are many more adventures a few pedal strokes outside Seattle, and we want to hear about them. Email [email protected] if you have one you would like to share.

For example, Jessie Kwak recently went on a bike tour of Whidbey Island wineries. She chronicled the adventure on her blog Bicitoro:

Whidbey is the perfect day trip from Seattle—it’s only a 30-minute drive to Mukilteo, which means that if you time the ferry right you can be on the island within an hour. The trick, of course, is timing the ferry.

The day I went, the Saturday of Memorial Weekend, there was a line of cars backed up for several miles. One woman I met on the island said she’d caught the 2:00 ferry—but had been in line since noon.

Fortunately, I had a secret weapon: my bicycle. I drove past the cars waiting on the shoulder, parked in the public lot by Diamond Knot Brewery, and just hopped on my bike for a short ride to the ferry. Suckers!

(A note: the public parking lot doesn’t allow overnight parking. I was told later by an islander that if you plan to spend the night on Whidbey, you should park near the train station instead.)

Read more…

While Jessie drove to the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, it’s not a bad bike ride (except for a few nasty busy roads in Mukilteo). However, you’d have to make it more of a multi-day trip if you want to bike the whole way. You can also throw your bike on Sound Transit express buses to Lynnwood or Everett, then bike to the ferry from there. Or, if you are starting your journey during evening commute times (say, if you leave after work on a Friday), you can catch the Sounder.

If you are interested in learning more about bike repair on the road, the third class in Swift Industries’ Get Lost Academy is June 9. Details on the Cycle Swift blog.

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6 Responses to Bicitoro: A cycling wine tour of Whidbey Island

  1. Anthony says:

    Tom, thank you for posting this! I commute on my Surly everyday from Whidbey, it takes me three hours each way, approx.

    If readers here don’t want to drive to Mukilteo, they can take the afternoon Sounders to catch the boat. First train is at 4pm. Last train leaves King Street at 5:30.

    Also, as you point out, a rider can take the ST buses 511 or 880(U-district) and then ride to Mukilteo. It takes about 40 minutes at the most to reach the ferry dock, and I’m slow so others will get there faster.

    Only problem is the reverse trip, on Sunday there is no train or bus service to Mukilteo.

    For the mountain bikers or hikers, the Lower Dungeness trail for mtn bikers and the Upper Dungeness trail for hikers is only a half hour drive from Port Townsend, or you can take the Jefferson Transit bus from PT and have them drop you off at Louella Rd. Then ride to the trailhead, that would take a hour at most.

  2. Jake says:

    I biked Whidbey island a few years ago: I left mid-day on a Friday from the U District, biked to Mukilteo, took the ferry across, and rode up Whidbey to Deception Pass. After camping there for the night, I woke up and crossed the bridge to Fidalgo Island, rode down through the Swinomish reservation to the mainland, went along the water to Everett, and then home via the Interurban route. I’d highly recommend the trip!

  3. Jessie Kwak says:

    Thanks for posting this, Tom, and thanks for the great suggestions for other places to bike in the comments! I’m really looking forward to exploring the island more.

    The public transportation options are good, too—I’d definitely like to incorporate that into my bike travels more, when it makes sense.

  4. JD says:

    I biked and camped on Whidbey several times and must say that this is not the best destination for bicycle camping. The only main road is Hwy 20 which is rather busy, fast, and hilly. Area around Deception Pass is simply dangerous due to traffic. But views are beautiful.

    • Andrew Squirrel says:

      You might need to explore a little more, there are some fantastic areas of Whidbey Island and great hike/bike camp spots at Fort Ebey.
      I did this ride recently:
      I saw very very few cars, there were some hills but some beautiful views and plenty of spots to stop for food. I was amazed how I could ride for nearly 30 minutes and not see a single car. I took the highway back which was much less pleasurable but fairly quick in comparison.

    • Anthony says:

      JD, your viewpoint is understandable for those that aren’t familiar with the island. I used to think the same until I started exploring a bit more.

      From the north end, you can take the busy Hwy 20 as you noted, or the other option is to ride around in a meandering sense from Anacortes using Havecost street, to Rosario which ends up hitting Hwy 20 right before the bridge at Deception pass.

      From Clinton, once you get off the boat you can make a immediate left onto Berg Rd and then hit up Deer Lake rd. With that route you would be working your way north kind of zig zagging and if you really want to avoid Hwy 20 it can be done.

      On the central part of the island on the east side you can ride relatively unfettered. Houston DRive/North Bluff is a real nice side road, the only drwback for loaded tourers with panniers would be going northbound on N. Bluff, the climb up to Houston is probably 20 percent.

      Opposite and just NW of Houston is Race Rd which leads to the ferry dock, and this is where Hwy 20 starts also on the south end. Pretty lonely riding in this are too, with the only exception of when a full boat arrives at Keystone dock.

      So, lots of great options on the island. I only ride Hwy 525/20 if I need to get somewhere fast, otherwise I agree with you that the highway is crowded and stinky.,

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