San Juan Islands Bike Trip, October 2021

Posting this a few months late, but wanted to share a few photos and stories from a bike trip my dad and I took in October in the San Juan Islands.

My dad retired in the spring of 2021, and I’m grateful for the extra time it’s given us to go on bike trips together. We both bought carbon Trek Checkpoint gravel bikes over the summer.

When we were scoping out this trip, we enjoyed watching this video from the Path Less Pedaled YouTube channel. Unlike the Path Less Pedaled crew, we did not, in fact, watercolor paint along the way. But in true Merrick style, we did a ton of reading during our downtime.

Day 1: Orcas Island

It was a little rainy on this day, but it cleared up in the afternoon so we hopped on the bikes. Orcas wasn’t super bike-friendly overall; the bike lanes were narrow or nonexistent, we kept getting passed by dump trucks en route to excavation work, and there were lots of blind corners. I felt sketchy about continuing to ride in those conditions, so we kept the ride shorter than planned.

Day 2: San Juan Island

We caught the ferry from Orcas to San Juan in the morning. We lucked out with a beautiful, clear fall day. We rode a counterclockwise loop around the island starting at Friday Harbor.

One highlight of this day was biking past a property that was decorated with these large sculptures, including one of Spongebob’s house.

Day 3: Lopez Island

We also lucked out with a sunny day on Lopez, a small island just south of Orcas. We rode the short loop around this island. Out of the three, Lopez was my favorite. It was the most bike-friendly, relatively flat overall, very scenic, and there was hardly any traffic. I would love to come back sometime and stay for a few days in the summer.

What to know if you go

As you might expect, in these COVID times, there are labor shortages on the ferries. Give yourself some buffer time traveling between islands.