Getting a head start with transit
Yes, it would have been possible to ride all the way to Olympic Peninsula, but the increased bike miles might have added an extra day I didn’t have. Instead, I decided to bike down to the Bainbridge Island ferry and take the bus from there in order to get a bit of a head start. I had planned to make Port Angeles my ‘home base’ for this trip. Day 1 would be transit and bike to Port Angeles, day 2 an all bike day west of Port Angeles, and day 3 transit and bike back home. I’ve done the Bainbridge Island ferry a number of times before, but this was my first time doing it with no intention of riding on the island itself. I was inspired by this transit adventure Darron and Nathalie had over a year and a half ago. Their destination was Port Townsend. I wanted to go a bit south of there to Discovery Bay, but found that the first two busses that they took would work for my trip as well. Coming off the ferry at Bainbridge Island, there is a bus waiting for you. As you get off the ferry and bike a short distance, you will see a sidewalk and turn right. The bus should be waiting and you can board as soon as you get there. Could be hard the first time, as there is minimal signage. Even though my ferry was late, due to only one ferry running that day, the Kitsap Transit 390 was waiting for me. I was on the bus for the entire route, to North Viking Transit Center in Poulsbo. Here is where the late ferry had an impact – the Jefferson Transit 7 which I had planned to take (due to it’s convenient transfer with my previous bus on paper) had already left. The 7 only runs 5 times a day, meaning I was waiting for over an hour for the midday bus to come. Once it did, I was able to get to the Four Corners Park and Ride, which has great bike amenities. After that, I had planned to take the Jefferson Transit 8 to Discovery Bay where the Olympic Discovery Trail starts. However, due to the earlier missed connection, this meant a 2.5 hour wait. I didn’t have that kind of time, so I decided to bike on State Route 20 instead. Even though it is a well biked route according to the Strava Heatmap, I wanted to avoid it due to the narrow shoulders. I also thought the weather wasn’t going to be great at it was turning to fall, but I actually had great weather that day, so that wasn’t a factor. It was 7 miles, and only a couple of big trucks passed, so not that bad. I was glad to reach that trailhead in Discovery Bay! There was a way I could have been protected against the late ferry. That would have been to take the Clallam Transit Strait Shot (Route 123) Like the Kitsap Transit 390, this bus waits for the ferry to arrive, and conveniently has Discovery Bay as one of its stop. You do pay for this convenience however, with the $10 fare. As I was on an adventure and wanted to try different transit agencies, I’m glad I took the Kitsap Transit 390 ($2 with ORCA card) and Jefferson Transit 7 (Usually $1.50 cash but still fare free due to covid), but next time if the ferry is late, I’ll opt for the Strait Shot.
Finally on the trail
I got to the trail a little later than I would have wanted, but still had plenty of daylight to get to my destination in Port Angeles. I enjoy riding trails for the first time, you never know what interesting things you’ll find along the way. The Olympic Discovery Trail is interesting, as it is long and takes a few different forms. It’s mostly paved, but there are sections on quiet roads, and then some heavily forested sections with hard packed gravel/dirt. I also enjoyed the many bridges you get to cross. There are also varying widths. It does get a bit narrow as you approach Port Angeles, but that wasn’t a busy section of the trail. After that section, you hit the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the forested trail instantly turns into a seaside trail. After that, I headed to my Airbnb to get some rest for day 2.
Lake Crescent section
Day 2 I headed west from Port Angeles. The trail goes through a nice waterfront area of the city, and then a more industrial part. There is also a bit of a climb up into a neighborhood before you get back to the separated trail. This section of the trail includes the bridge over the Elwha River, completed in 2009. I’ve seen many photographs of the bridge, and it was fun to ride over myself. Just after the bridge, there is about a 10 mile section on State Route 112. The portion starts out with decent shoulders, but they narrow at places. According to the map, there is a small portion of trail if you turn right on Freshwater Bay Rd, but I opted to keep going on the highway. After the highway, there are a couple of options. You can turn left on Joyce Piedmont Rd. This is a paved road with no shoulders. The section option is going a little further to Gossett Rd where there is a short portion of paved trail, and then a gravel access road (the website warns about logging trucks, but I didn’t run into any). I opted for the latter, as my bike has 700x32c tires. If you are using narrow road tires, I would recommend the first option. After that section was my favorite part of the entire trip – the Lake Crescent section. I believe this was one of the most recently completed sections as I remember reading in 2018 that it was being worked on. When you first ride along the Spruce Railroad section, you get breathtaking views of the lake. Further along, you gradually increase in elevation and it becomes more forested. I rode all the way to U.S. Route 101. The trail does go further west on the other side of the highway, before you are routed onto roads to La Push, but this was my western terminus for the trip. The rest of the day, I retraced my steps back to Port Angeles.
Port Townsend portion
There is also a part of the Olympic Discovery Trail in Port Townsend. This portion of trail is also named the Larry Scott Trail. My plan was to take transit to Port Townsend, and then the entire length of the trail before heading to Kingston to take the ferry. On my way to Gateway Transit Center, I got a flat tire. Luckily, due to my missed connection on day 1, I had decided to take an earlier bus, as they run every half an hour, and I was worried that the 5 minute transfer window was cutting it close. After I fixed my flat, I made it in time to catch the Clallam Transit 30 to Sequim I had originally planned. This route costs $1.50, and it was the busiest bus I was on during my trip. I think the fact that it runs often make it more popular than the Jefferson Transit routes. I made it to Sequim just in time for the Jefferson Transit 8 to Port Townsend. There were two other people on the bus. Once I got to Port Townsend, I stopped by The Broken Spoke to pump up my tire and buy another spare tube. After that, I hit the trail. It varied between paved and gravel, as well as very wide to very narrow. There were a couple of other groups using it, but pretty quiet for the most part. After that, it was roads and highways back to Kingston. I got to pass the Hood Canal Bridge via bike for the first time. I heard it used to be much worse. Not too bad for my crossing, though I did have a couple of semi trucks pass. That made me feel good that I was turning left instead of right at the end, as the majority of the traffic was turning right. I made it to Kingston just in time for a ferry and was relieved to be on the more familiar roads and trails after a lot of adventure!