Bicycling Adventures on Camano Island

Author: Steven L. Rose | 05/24/23

What did you love about your very best biking adventures? Was it the lack of busy traffic? The grand views? The variation of terrain? Your choice of interesting routes? An easy drive to the route? Camano Island offers all these features for all levels of bicyclists.

This article will give you a general description of beautiful Camano Island, some of the sights and useful stops along the routes and, most importantly, a description of the variety of biking opportunities. Camano Island is an important part of Whidbey Camano Land Trust’s work, and biking is a great way to view Land Trust protected properties, and connect with the nature that surrounds us all!

General Description of Camano Island

Camano Island is shaped like a slightly bent jalapeno pepper with the “stem” at the northern end. It’s the unique shape of the Island that offers your choice of ride distances, elevation changes, interesting stops and views. The island is located in northern Puget Sound via I-5 about midway between Seattle (55 miles to the south) and Bellingham (50 miles to the north). You can drive directly onto the island from Stanwood on the State Route 532 Bridge. A ferry ride is not required. The total north to south length of the island is about 15 miles with a maximum width of only 6 miles. There are about 50 miles of shoreline. Island County has completed a Camano Island Bicycle Touring Route (2021) that circumnavigates the entire island roughly as a figure eight. Island County is also developing an Island County Bicycle Touring Map which will include both Camano Island and Whidbey Island.

The total distance for this route is about 40 miles. Notice that the proposed route includes a “scissors” or crossover at West Mountain View Road. This “scissors” point divides the total route into two connected loops offering individual loop distances that may be more appealing to the average biker. We can call them the Northern Loop and the Southern Loop.

Northern Camano Loop

The total distance of the Northern Loop is about 21 miles. A convenient starting place for the Northern Camano Loop is the Camano Commons Marketplace (848 N Sunrise Blvd Suite C, Camano, WA 98282), historically called Terry’s Corner. There is ample parking and public restrooms at the Marketplace and the adjacent Island County Transit Park and Ride. The Marketplace is a great opportunity to stock up for the ride or get some post-ride coffee, ice cream or pastries. Tapped Public House (848 North Sunrise Boulevard) is recommended for food and drinks and indoor and outdoor dining. Other options for parking and starting your bike tour are Cama Beach State Park and Camano Island State Park which both include public restrooms. A Washington State Park Discover Pass is required if you drive into and park at either State Park. A Discover Pass is not needed if you bicycle into the State Parks. In addition to the State Parks, the Northern Loop will pass by or very near other interesting stopping points, such as magnificent Barnum Point County Park protected by the Land Trust (167 acres of wooded trails, ocean views and beach access, and offers restrooms), Iverson Spit Waterfront Preserve (115 acres of trails, ocean front beach access and windsurfing, and offers restrooms), Elger Bay Preserve (wooded trails and beaver pond), Camano Plaza Market (415 N East Camano Drive with an IGA Market, Ace Hardware, a gas station and eateries), Elger Bay Grocery (1992 South Elger Bay Road offering groceries and a gas station), and Elger Bay Café (1994 Elger Bay Road for casual dining).

Barnum Point County Park

Barnum Point County Park, protected by Whidbey Camano Land Trust.

Keep in mind that there is an elevation “spine” in the north-south direction of the island with a maximum elevation of 675 feet (206 meters). Crossing the northern island loop in the east-west direction offers the greatest climbing tests and exhilarating downhills. Some cyclists might find some east-west climbs in the Northern Loop somewhat challenging. However, rides in the north-south directions are comparatively flat.

Southern Camano Loop

The Southern Loop offers a leisurely and an almost traffic-free ride experience. In contrast to the Northern Loop, the north-south direction of the Southern Loop consists of rolling hills. The total distance of the loop is about 17 miles. However, if a shorter ride is preferred, South Broadmoor Road and Dallman Road both cut across this narrow part of the island. The majority of this route is heavily forested, but there are views of Port Susan, Possession Sound, Elger Bay and Whidbey Island along the way. There is one small park on the east side of the route, the Walter G. Hutchison Park. Hutchison Park is about five acres and offers nature trails, a picnic area, and a parking area. There is an unusual remnant of earlier technology at this park – a telephone booth! The booth has been repurposed as a mini-library.

General Bicycling Safety Notes

While automobile traffic on Camano Island is much lighter than most routes in the Pacific Northwest (for example, there are only four traffic lights on the entire island), it is important to observe basic safety recommendations while biking. Wear a helmet. Front and rear lights and high visibility clothing are advised. In addition, a charged cell phone, basic repair tools, extra tubes, and drinking water are essentials for touring. Note that the width of the roadway shoulders (serving as bike lanes) varies greatly on the Island from feet to a few inches. They are generally well cleared and maintained in good weather.

Camano Island offers the cyclist the spectrum of a good workout, a leisurely tour or an exciting new Puget Sound adventure. Plan a visit!


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