pacific northwest sunset

Pacific Northwest Bicycle Touring Loop

Two months and 2,270 miles through Washington, Oregon, and Northern California

In May 2021, we embarked on a two month bicycle tour of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) with our good friend Marcus. This was our first big tour with our around-the-world bikes and we were still waiting for COVID lock-downs to calm down a bit, so a U.S. tour seemed like a good way to start our expedition. All three of us were interested in spending more time in the PNW, so we boxed up our bikes and met up in Seattle, which would be our start and end point.

We started off riding the Olympic Discovery Trail and Pacific Coast Highway down to the Redwoods, then headed east to link up with the Oregon Outback bikepacking route and the Sierra Cascades Adventure Cycling Association route.

map of pacific northwest bicycle tour
Overview map of our route

 You can download the full GPX track of our route here. We’ve broken the tour into a few different posts which are linked below.

Stats Overview:

Time Frame: May 5 – June 27, 2021

World Bicycle Tour Days: 1-54

Miles: 2,287

Olympic Discovery Trail and Pacific Coast Highway

The first section of our Pacific Northwest bicycle tour was on the Olympic Discovery Trail and the Pacific Coast Highway. Read about this part of the journey here.

bicycle touring the pacific coast highway
Scenery along the Oregon Coast.

Oregon Outback Bikepacking Route

The Oregon Outback is a 364-mile bikepacking route that traverses the length of the state. The route starts in Klamath Falls and ends at the Deschutes River State Recreation Area. Read about our experience bikepacking the Oregon Outback here.

bikepacking the oregon outback
Mount Adams in the distance on the Oregon Outback.

Sierra Cascades Route

After completing the Oregon Outback, we followed the Columbia River west to Cascade Locks, where we joined the Sierra Cascades Adventure Cycling Association route. The transition from desert to rain forest seemed almost instantaneous and it rained for several days after we crossed into Washington. The route passes near Mount St. Helens, but we couldn’t see it at all due to the cloud cover.

pacific northwest bicycle touring
Nice big switchback heading up to the Rowena Crest on the old Columbia River Highway
bicycle touring the sierra cascades route
Going up a snowy pass on the Sierra Cascades route.

We then rode into Yakima and the drier part of the state before heading through Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Park. We had beautiful weather in North Cascades and found a nice spot to set up camp and take a rest day in the woods. Finally, we spent a few days on the San Juan Islands before heading back to Seattle and ending where we started – at the Red Roof Inn Airport Hotel.

bicycle touring north cascades national park
Finally got some good weather in North Cascades National Park.

The Sierra Cascades route was mostly on pavement and incorporated some nice sections of bike path, though it was primarily on low-traffic byways. We did a mix of state/county campgrounds and wild camping.

bike riding in the fog
Foggy riding near Mount St. Helens
snowy pass near mount rainier
Mount Rainier obscured by clouds
bicycle touring sierra cascades
We did a century ride between North Cascades and Anacortes, WA. This was around mile 98.

Final Thoughts

The Pacific Northwest is a stunning area with a huge variety of ecosystems and climate. We  cycled through rain forest, the high desert, past snowy mountains and along rugged coastline all  in the span of two months. While the traffic was heavy along the coast in certain areas, there were good amenities for cyclists and frequent options for less-traveled byways.

Video from the Pacific Northwest:

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