Bicycle Touring on San Juan Island – Part 1

The ferry from Sidney to San Juan was so empty and quiet, we were able to stretch out across a booth and fall asleep. The mellow ride was our first intro to off-season on the island.

Sleepy Friday Harbor in off season
Sleepy Friday Harbor in off season

Not 30 seconds from rolling off the ferry on our bikes, we were pedaling down the road, about to make a left turn, and a taxi honked at us.

Welcome back to America.

This was our only bad experience with cycling on the island. The San Juan Islands are extremely bike-friendly, and many bike touring companies, including Backroads, tour the islands. Throughout our riding, we passed by several bike pull offs, where SAG vehicles or pelotons could stop and wait for their groups.

Our bed and breakfast for the next two days was Tucker House Inn, part of the San Juan Island Inn Collection. I chose a bed and breakfast so that we could adequately fuel for our rides, and Tucker House was just a few blocks from Friday Harbor.

Tucker House
The Upper Tucker House, where our room, Patience Corner was located.

The bed and breakfast was charming. Antique decor, fresh pumpkins adorning the porch, a tiny kitchen for guest’s use, a well-lit sunroom, and… fresh cookies?!

Our room, Patience Corner was located on the second floor, complete with a queen-sized bed, jacuzzi (and shower) and two homemade thumbprint cookies waiting for us on a small plate.

This was perfect fuel for our afternoon ride. By the time we set out, about 2pm, a thick layer of fog clinched to the wet landscape. No rain though!

The main loop we originally planned (to hit the farms, parks and winery/distillery) was about 48 miles long. After our 18 mile ride from Victoria to Sidney, with about 15 pounds in our packs, we decided to visit the southernmost part of San Juan Island, including American Camp and Cattle Point Lighthouse.

So foggy at American Camp!
So foggy at American Camp!
Found some gravel grinding!
Found some gravel grinding!

american camp

The ride out to American Camp passed by vast farmland, and the fog was thick around us. It was eery at the park, adding an element of mystery as we visited the historical remnants and the battlefield. We continued from American Camp on Cattle Point Road,cruising along the expansive coastline. The Cattle Point Lighthouse was at the bottom of a steeply graded road (about 10.5 percent), and with our tired legs from morning, we decided to admire from the top of the hill before turning around. We would visit another lighthouse tomorrow.

I hadn’t fueled well after the bike from Victoria to Sidney, so I bonked by the end of the 17.2 mile ride.

Cattle Point Lighthouse in the Distance
Cattle Point Lighthouse in the Distance

We returned to the Tucker House Inn, preparing for our tour on the rest of San Juan Island tomorrow.

Strava Ride File: 

Read Part 2 of our San Juan Island Bicycle Tour here.