When out for a bikepacking excursion, your destination is an essential element to consider. The terrain, the views, and how bicycle friendly the place is, are among the factors to look at when settling for a particular destination.
One of the states gaining immense popularity as the go-to spot for this is Washington. Adventurers who have been bikepacking in Washington paint this state as one of the best.
What Makes Washington a Suitable Bikepacking Haven?
The following are some of the factors that make this north-western state a must-visit place for any bikepacker.
Plenty Of Trails
Trails are essential when it comes to bikepacking and Washington doesn’t disappoint. The trails contribute to the adventure and also boost your experience in tackling various terrains.
Talking about terrains, Washington has a variety to offer to test your endurance while on your bike. There’s the obvious paved roads as well as the rough paths where you can bring your mountain bike, for an extreme biking session.
The trails have varying degrees of difficulty that make them ideal for both beginners and pros alike. There are level 2-4/10 trails, where most of the riding is smooth with varying parts of tarmac and rough roads. There are also the more difficult trails to tackle, with a rating from 6-10/10, which are the perfect routes for professional bikepackers who want to put their expertise to the test. The versatility of the state when it comes to the routes is one of the factors that makes it perfect for bikepacking.
Washington state experiences a diverse climate that is ideal for outdoor adventurers. It features a dominant Mediterranean like climate, with some areas being semi-arid. Such conditions make bikepacking suitable with minimal chances of those surprise rain showers.
The scenery is another contributing factor behind the popularity of this north-western US state as a bikepacking hub. The natural features contribute to the adventure you will experience in Washington.
You can capture the Pacific Ocean’s views to the western sides of the state and the imposing monstrosity that is Mt. ST. Helens. There are also evergreen forests on some of the routes which help make your bikepacking Washington conquest that much more fulfilling.
It is a nature-lover’s paradise, providing fascinating backgrounds for photography.
Numerous Watering Points
While on course of your bikepacking Washington adventures, you need watering points to refill your caches and relax as you plan for the next part of the excursion. Washington has various routes with numerous watering points for a refill.
There are also plenty of camp spots for relaxing as you re-energize before continuing with your adventure. Some of the camps may even have recreation facilities such as pools and restaurants. At these stopovers, you may meet up with other parties out for similar bikepacking adventures, and you may link up to boost your morale.
If you are into rough terrain to test out your resiliency when it comes to bikepacking, then the Goat Mountain route is an ideal option. For years, the trail was rarely used as it had a worthy competitor, the Mount Margaret trails, which offers a perfect view of Mt. ST. Helens and the Cascade ranges.
It was a haven for hunters, hikers, and bikers who preferred the rugged terrain, which brought about the essence of adventure. The trail got a revamp back in 2018, courtesy of the Trans-Cascadia crew for its yearly event.
At the moment, it is one of the up and coming trails gaining popularity in the bikepacking community. The trail is 37 miles long, a feat that you can accomplish in 1, or 2 days if you ride slow like me. It’s 100% unpaved, and you get the feeling of true bikepacking, where the rugged trails add to the fun.
One thing that you will enjoy with the Goat Mountain route is the many natural features incorporated into the trail.
At a difficulty level of 6/10, this trail is the perfect definition of a transition from experienced to pro. If you tackle the Goat Mountain trail well, you’ll gain the confidence to take on more challenging routes.
The Deadman’s Lake campsite is the perfect place to relax after a long day of bikepacking. You can unload at the campsite and chill out as you plan to conquer the remaining part of the trail.
Another thing that will impress you about this bikepacking route is it’s low amount of traffic. Few bikepacking groups take on the course; hence it’s not so congested. There are also plenty of watering holes to replenish your bottles while enroute.
However, the downside to this trail is the steepness in some sections, especially the last seven or eight miles. The technical descent can be tough for many riders, but more so for beginners.
There is also an air of uncertainty with the granting of mining rights to the area. With the popularity of Goat Mountain as a bikepacker’s haven, all that is left is to see how the mineral prospecting will go.
If you want an exceptional weekend getaway spot with an abundance of nature, grab your bike and explore Goat Mountain’s trails.
Cross Washington Mountain Bike Route
The Cross Washington Mountain bike route is one of the best bikepacking Washington trails, if you want to put your experience on the test. It is one of the longest trails, extending 684 miles from the Pacific to the border of Washington and Idaho.
You can tackle the bikepacking trail in an average of 10 days, a suitable ride for the vacations with family or friends who likewise want to have a taste of adventure while bikepacking. The route is very diverse, and you will get a mixture of paved and unpaved surfaces, dirt roads, and a fantastic landscape that will impress any nature-lover.
There are the rainforests, the glacial cuts, arid land, and a touch of some urban view. It is an excellent place for nature documentaries, so pack your camera to capture it’s outstanding views.
The Cross Washington Mountain bike route has a difficulty rating of 7/10, which means it’s quite challenging. It’s sort of an emphasis to the hardy trails that decorate various parts of the country. The distance is one of the contributors to this trails difficulty, and it puts your bikepacking expertise to good use.
As with many challenging routes, stamina is critical for you to conquer it. There’s intense climbing in the first 300 miles, and it may be hectic if you have a heavily loaded bike. The steepness needs experience and an extra push of the pedal to tackle it. However, the last 300 miles are easy to tackle, as you will encounter less hilly terrain.
The vastness of the Cross Washington bikepacking route makes it a suitable environment for any bikepacker looking for a challenge.
It is a great place to orient beginner bikepackers as they get a dose of the hardy trails. The good thing with this route is that only part of its path is challenging to tackle. Once done with the hard parts, you can now flow and take in the graceful nature of the landscapes.
It is also an excellent training trail if you want to push your limits to tackle hardier terrains. One thing that may come in the way of your adventure conquest is the routes that pass through the suburbs. These routes are usually congested and can act against your cycling experience.
There are also trails with vast overgrowth, so the riding can get quite tricky. Also, getting areas to refill your supplies may be hard, especially in the wilderness. Overall, it is an excellent route for adventurous bikepackers.
The Silver Siouxon is the best option for any bikepacker who wants an adventure session near Portland or Vancouver. The trail is only an hour’s drive from Portland and offers the perfect getaway for a weekend bikepacking Washington adventure.
The trail is 75 miles long, a distance you can tackle in two or three days. The trial is very steep at some points, and you need to bring your best to pull through.
The scenery is magnificent and gives you a relaxed mood as you get close to nature. The trails traverse through dense forests with views of rocky patches, waterfalls, views of Bluff Mountain, and the Sioux Creek. If you love nature, you should definitely pack a camera to capture the amazing scenery.
Silver Siouxon bikepacking route has a difficulty level of 6/10, with only two sections proving extremely difficult. They are the steep ascending paths up Silver Star and the exposure of Bluff Mountain. If you are resilient enough, you will clear up the two obstacles by the second day of the expedition.
The route is ideal for intermediate riders who have some experience in bikepacking. The route is less punishing, and there are several watering points along the trail where you can refresh and recharge as you get ready for the next part of the trip.
74% of the route is unpaved; hence, it is not that hardy. For the highly experienced riders, this may seem to be a refresher ride where they can improve their proficiency. Beginners can have a fulfilling time in the final stages of the ride, where there are no obstacles.
If the outing is unbearable, there are bailout options on Dole Valley Road. There are many campsites where you can relax as you plan the next part of your Silver Siouxon conquest. The trail doesn’t have much traffic so you can ride with minimal intrusion.
One thing that can work against your riding plans is the overgrowth in some places. However, there are optional routes alongside the overgrown areas, though they might be longer.
Silver Siouxon is a less technical route to try out and comes with the advantage of being near an urban center. The out-of-this-world scenery and plenty of watering points will make your session fulfilling and leave you craving for another riding moment along this route.
Mt. ST. Helens Epic
Unpredictability is the main ingredient when it comes to adventure and Mt. ST. Helen’s Epic is the perfect embodiment of this component. This bikepacking route is ideal for both intermediate and experienced bikepackers and offers excellent scenery. The ruggedness makes for an extraordinary bikepacking session.
The mountain is an active volcano that last erupted in 1980. The result of the lava flow is an expansive wasteland, with minimal growth and the right amount of hardiness for bikepacking trip. The route stretches for roughly 80 miles, a distance you can comfortably cover in three days, with the pros tackling it in 2 days.
The trail has a 6/10 difficulty rating, which means it is not as difficult as it may look on paper. There are various steep areas, which need a sturdy bike to manage. The trip is a test of endurance and can help in building your strength for more rugged trails.
There are two campgrounds, the Swift Forest camp ground, and the Badger Lake camp ground. Here, you can take a break from the excursion and build up some energy before proceeding. There is also a lunch spot where you can refill your supplies and have a decent meal with a beautiful view of Mt. ST. Helens. About 73% of the route is unpaved, which is good news for beginners as it means a less hardy terrain.
There are several routes to choose from when you start your conquest, and they include Abraham Trail, Ape Canyon Trail, and the Lewis River Trail. These are the intermediate tracks with gentle terrain. The Smith Creek trail is one of the most difficult, and as such, it is not that popular.
There is a decent stretch of single track, about 58%, and a total ascent of about 3600 feet.
If you want to conquer this route, timing is critical due to fluctuating weather. Most of the time, it is windy, and we all know how disturbing that can be, particularly if you have a heavy load. If it rains, it is tough to pull through, and you have to be keen with weather forecasts to prevent getting soaked. There are also few watering spots, suggesting you need to load up on supplies. The camp sites are excellent resting locations and are situated strategically along the route.
Generally, Mt. ST. Helens Epic is perfect if you want a unique bikepacking Washington experience.
Olympic Adventure Route
If you are a beginner bikepacker, the Olympic Adventure route is the perfect starting point as you hone your skills in bikepacking. The course stretches 66 miles and is 99% unpaved – an ideal situation for new bikepackers to rough roads.
The route has a difficulty level of 3/10, with a total ascent of roughly 2400 feet. The trail doesn’t need complex bikes to tackle the 2-day trip. The scenery is impressive, and you can capture the elegance in the surroundings comprising of mountains, dense forests, and the sea.
You also have the magnificent Elwha River and Lake Crescent at the beginning and end of the route. At higher points, you can see the Strait of Juan De Fuca, Olympic Mountains, and Vancouver Island.
The lake will be present in most of the trail, acting as your observer as you test your limits on the rough roads.
The ruggedness of the route is one of the factors that make it a trail of choice for many riders. As earlier hinted, it is 99% unpaved, with the only paved areas being where the trail crosses tarmac roads.
There are three watering points where you can get a refill as you proceed with your adventure. There is also a campground where you can rest before picking up where you left. Near the camp site are restrooms and a swimming pool for you to have some fun.
A fact that will make you feel at home when you choose this track is that it does not have much traffic. The weather is also welcoming, and is calm most of the time, with spells of chilliness at times.
The entire trail is picturesque with a guarantee of nostalgic moments that you should capture on your camera. Another excellent thing with the route is that it’s not too steep, which is usually a difficult spot for cyclists to tackle.
The disadvantage is that some places bordering the lake may be precarious, especially if they are slippery during the rainy season. If you don’t tread well in such areas, you risk slipping and covering yourself in mud. However, most of the risky areas have some barriers for safety purposes.
The bottom line is that the Olympic Adventure Route is an ideal trail to use as you take in nature during a weekend.
For more detailed information on these bikepacking Washington trials, including GPX files, visit Bikepacking.com and use their search function to find the specific trails you want to ride.
- Top 5 Bikepacking Mistakes
- Stealth Camping While Bikepacking
- How to Start Bikepacking – A Beginners Guide
- Bikepacking Guide to Personal Care | How to Stay Clean While Bikepacking
- The Ultimate Bikepacking Gear List
- 4 MONTyBOCA Bikepacking Trail Recipes for Your Next Trip
- How to Pack for Bikepacking | A guide to all you need to know