Orcas Island is the hilliest of the islands. It is sparsely populated with dense forests, placid lakes, and multiple coves and inlets. Orcas also makes a great base from which to venture out on the ocean and we can arrange guided sea kayaking tours or whale-watching cruises.
The island shape naturally creates two great rides – and western ride and an eastern loop ride. Most people stay in Eastsound or at the Rosario Inn close to the center of the island.
For more more days of riding, you will add days from our San Juan Island bike tours.
Western Orcas Ride
After taking the ferry from Friday Harbor to Orcas you ride along the curving shoreline past a series of small inlets to Deer Harbor. The little sandy beach and dock make this a great place for a picnic lunch. Crow Valley Road then takes you across the heart of the Island past Turtleback Mountain Preserve and a succession of small farms. A short detour takes you to Orcas Island Pottery – a world-renowned institution set among old growth cedars and Douglas fir and perched on a 100-foot-high bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. From here, it’s just a short push on to Eastsound.
Eastern Orcas Loop
You head south past the placid waters of Cascade Lake and through the densely forested Moran State Park. Those looking for an energetic detour will take a side-trip up to the top of Mount Constitution. At 2,400 feet this is the highest point on the San Juan Islands. Rejoining the main route, you reach the small hamlet of Olga. The Olga Café (and art gallery) is a perfect lunch stop. For more miles, you will head down to the scenic cove at Obstruction Pass or head across to the idyllic beach at Doe Bay.
If you don’t want to ride quite so many miles, stop at Cascade Lake and just enjoy the view or head out onto the water. There are kayaks and canoes to rent as well as stand up paddle-boards (SUP).
Eastsound is a charming seaside town and artist community. The laid-back atmosphere here can make even tranquil Friday Harbor seem hectic by comparison. However, the clutch of galleries and stores are enough to while away a pleasant couple of hours as you meander around. They also have the best ice cream on the archipelago.
The best months for a biking vacation in the San Juan Islands are from May through September, when the temperatures are pleasantly warm and the risk of rainfall much lower. Spring and fall are still great for bicycle touring vacations, but you need to be prepared for gentle rain and lower temperatures. We do not recommend cycling here in winter.