“Any time’s a good time to bike in Anacortes!” believes Warren Tessler, who lives in the Anacortes Old Town district and straps on a bike helmet for 95% of his transportation needs. As co-chair of the Anacortes Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (ABPAC), Tessler also is among those responsible for helping the city earn bronze-level recognition from the League of American Bicyclists for the city’s wide range of cycling improvements and education. By the way, the League also rates Washington as the No. 1 biking state in the nation!
And, those rankings don’t even take into consideration the jaw-dropping marine and farmland scenery, wildlife, and glimpses of history one can encounter along the routes. And, did we mention, minimal traffic? Whatever your interests or biking level, there’s plenty of biking adventure in and around Fidalgo Island.
For accessible rides with minimal elevation gains, a favorite is the Tommy Thompson Trail, a 3.3-mile route through town and along a former railroad trestle, crossing Fidalgo Bay in view of Mt. Baker. Loop back, or continue on around March’s Point. Also, Washington Park, near the ferry terminal, offers a slow-paced, 2.2-mile loop road, with views of ferries and Rosario Strait. And partially completed is a city dream, the Guemes Channel Trail, which one day will fully link downtown Anacortes west to the ferry terminal and Washington Park.
Add a ferry ride (bikes and scooters get priority boarding) to explore Guemes Island (only five minutes away across Guemes Channel) or rural Lopez Island (via Washington State Ferries).
Looking for a longer workout? Exit the east end of the Tommy Thompson Trail and head south on March Point Road, crossing Highway 20 at Swinomish Golf Course. Use a map to follow winding country roads around Fidalgo Island and back to Anacortes, about 22 miles or 1.5-2 hours. Detour across Deception Pass Bridge to explore Washington’s most popular state park.
For an aerobic climb, get a 1,213-foot elevation gain via the 1.2-mile road to the summit of Mt. Erie. Your reward? Views of area farmlands, the San Juan Islands, and, on a clear day, Mt. Rainier to the south. Mountain bikers will find miles of trails (check trail markers for allowed routes) in the 2,800-acre Anacortes Community Forestlands.
For a long, leisurely ride, pick up a packed lunch downtown and head for the farmlands and much-heralded winter birding on the Skagit Flats and along the Bay View dikes.
And for a true Northwest, all-day road trip, challenge yourself with a ride to Bellingham and back via Bayview-Edison Road, Highway 11, and scenic back roads into Fairhaven, with a return via Chuckanut Drive
If sticking close to home is more your style, fuel up with a cup o’ Joe and cruise Anacortes’ historic Old Town with the Walking Tour of Historic Downtown and Anacortes Mural Project guides in hand.
Resources for maps of these and literally hundreds more rides include the Anacortes Visitors Center (9th St. and Commercial Ave.), the Skagit County Bike Map (iPhone app available), local bike shops, and online at MapMyRide.com.
Need a bike or a tune-up to hit the trail? Skagit Cycle rents bikes and A’Town Scoots (check website for Spring re-opening) rents scooters. Skagit Cycle and Bikespot both receive, assemble, and ship bikes for out-of-town cyclists.
As a place to ride to the supermarket or a jumping-off point for longer journeys on a network of safe routes and bike-friendly facilities, “Biking in Anacortes is good now and getting even better,” concludes Warren Tessler. “And the more people bike here,” he adds, “the more incentive it is for the city and county to create an infrastructure that supports riders.”
So, roll on in and hit the road . . . on your bike!
originally written on January 21st, 2015 by Jan Hersey