Fall on the Olympic Peninsula is one of the most visually exciting times of the year to take off on your motorcycle and find the best of seasonal colors. The area is awash with beauty as the leaves turn to brilliant shades of ruby, amber and russet. It’s even more spectacular from the seat of your bike on roads that hug shorelines and wind through forests. Here are three favorite rides you won’t want to miss.
Union to Port Townsend on US-101N
Flanking the canal, you’ll weave through coastal farmland and follow the shoreline north through Hoodsport where a series of waterside S-curves begin. Past Eldon you’ll find long sweepers until the road curls around the Duckabush River delta. Several biker-friendly watering holes can be found along the way. You’ll pass through Olympic National Forest into Quilcene and then pass high above stunning Discovery Bay en route to Port Townsend.
Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge’s Visitor Center on Hurricane Ridge Road
You’ll discover serious ”twisties” as you ascend with thick forests alongside the road. The scenery only gets better as the climb continues and trees recede, replaced by glacier-worn rock and alpine meadows. As the embankment falls off on the left and gets steeper, be prepared for a few heart-pounding moments. Once at the top, take time to walk around, check out the visitor center, and indulge in breathtaking views. The ride down is a panorama of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island in the distance.
Port Angeles to Lake Quinault on US-101W
Twenty minutes from town, the road skirts magnificent Lake Crescent on smooth, recently paved curves merging into several long straightaways into Forks. Further on, you’ll know you’ve entered Olympic National Park when the trees are so tall the moist sea air clings to them. A line of forest gives you veiled glimpses of the ocean as you parallel the edge of the continent then swerve east for another series of straightaways to Lake Quinault.
A day ride is always fun, but we recommend coming for several days to tour many of the additional roads that wend across and around the Olympic Peninsula’s spectacular scenery. Ride the full 350-mile “loop” skirting Olympic National Park and try to keep your eyes on the road with the distraction of golden big leaf maples framing the highway. Also, keep a sharp lookout for elk herds who are out in force in the fall. Take the Juan de Fuca National Scenic Byway on Highway 112 and stop in a few of the small towns to get a feel for the peninsula’s local flair.
Learn about additional road trips and check out the wide variety of lodging options. And, of course, this time of year the weather is constantly changing, so it’s a good idea to look ahead to the forecast. It’s hard to imagine a better way to embrace fall than by roaring down an open road decked out with autumn’s vibrancy of color.