I’ve been doing self-supported bike trips around the Northwest for over a decade. After years of trip planning, researching routes, camp sites, and food, I thought I should share what I’ve learned.
I have quite a backlog of routes, and I’m going to roll them out as I have time. I started with my Seattle to the San Juan Islands trip, which I do annually, and with the Selkirk Loop, which is a nearly perfect one-week touring trip. Next up is the Olympic Peninsula, which is a highly customizable loop ride that would be a great beginner trip. My most recent trip took me from Portland to Walla Walla, following the Columbia River for almost the entire route.
I have a few criteria for my routes. I don’t own a car and I don’t want to box my bike, so many of my trips start and end in Seattle, where I live. When I can, I take the Amtrak Cascades to start and end points. For harder-to-reach locations, I’ve found point-to-point car rentals incredibly useful. I also take buses when feasible.
I prefer to camp when possible, though I do enjoy the occasional B&B, or even a hotel when it rains particularly hard, or after a night spent hiding from a bear, or after too many sketchy campground experiences on the Oregon coast. In general, though, my itineraries are designed around campground access.
I enjoy a nice restaurant, bakery, or ice cream shop, but mostly I enjoy cooking at camp. I offer food recommendations when something stands out, but most of my meals are eaten on the road or at the campsite.