Guest Post: Triple-Treat Tour of the San Juan Islands (Part two: San Juan Island)

Part two of a guest series by Dieter Loibner (Check out Part 1 if you missed it before!)

After a jaunt up the lovely Mt Constitution on Orcas Island…

…the next inter-island ship to San Juan leaves Orcas at 10:40. There should be enough time to refuel at the supermarket right at the dock. I eat and re-stretch when on deck as the ferry negotiates Wasp Passage, a lovely stretch of water between Shaw and Orcas, dotted with cute, pocketsized islands. Disembarking at Friday Harbor around 11:20, you’ll notice the city vibe of this little island-burg. It’s the county seat, with all the good and the bad that comes with it. During tourist season you’ll spot the silly three-wheeled sightseeing mopeds that fan out all over the islands and should be avoided at all cost. One can opt for northern or southern loops, but should consider traffic during the summer months. Many cyclists slog up to Roche Harbor, formerly a rather unsustainable lime and cement factory, but now a posh yachting resort with too many people and too much traffic. And $$$ prices.

2wheels_vs_three©Dieter Loibner(one wheel too many and way too ridiculous:)

The scheduled departure for the interisland ferry back to Lopez is 2:15, which leaves enough time for a good spin and a cup of coffee at the end. My favorite ronde heads west on Spring Street, which turns into San Juan Valley Road. Take that for a few miles before making a right on Boyce followed after another mile by a left onto West Valley. Take a left on Mitchell Bay Rd, which you follow to Snug Harbor where you turn left on West Side Rd. You’re heading due south now, riding the rollers along that steep and picturesque coast line.

american_camp©Dieter Loibner(American Camp)

The vistas are worth a stop or two to look out over Haro Strait and Vancouver Island and scanning the water for steam spouts that indicate the presence of killer whales. Further to the south you’ll see the Juan de Fuca Strait, the waterway that separates the US from Canada and the snowcapped Olympic Mountains. You’ll pass San Juan County Park’s campground right by the water, which accommodates bicyclists and kayakers and Lime Kiln Point State Park that was set up for whale watching from land. Following the road further south it bends eastward as it becomes Bailer Hill, which terminates at Douglas.

lime_kiln_point©Dieter Loibner(Lime Kiln Point. And Dieter, being a badass:)

Now there is a decision to make, depending on time left and ambition. Go left to return to Friday Harbor for some delish organic grub at the Market Chef near the ferry terminal on A street or a latte at The Bean Cafe, down the road one block. If you’ve got time in the bank and feel fast, turn south on Cattle Point Road to see the remnants of the US encampment during the Pig War of 1859. The standoff with those Brits was about a territorial dispute in the islands, but the casualties were light: One English pig.

Keep reading! Part 3 is here!

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