Every so often we like to pick a destination that we have heard has some good riding and head out for a bike/city tour weekend. On Friday we randomly decided to head north to Ellensburg in Central Washington. The bluebird sky and warm sunny days were too tempting to pass up. So we threw our bikes and some gear in the car and headed four hours east and north across the Columbia Gorge and up into Central Washington.
We spent Saturday morning exploring Kittitas County by car. We headed west up through Cle Elum, Roslyn and Ronald to Cle Elum Lake and ended up taking the requisite picture of the wall mural at the Rosyln Cafe– the location of the cafe in 80’s tv show Northern Exposure, one of Jay’s all-time favorites.
On Saturday afternoon we decided a shorter, relatively * easy* ride was in order to stretch our legs and get a feel for the lay of the land. We checked in with the local bike store, The ReCycle Shop ,where we were happy to meet Oscar, the bike store chocolate lab cooly relaxing in his wicker easy chair. The guys in the store were very knowledgeable and friendly and provided us with a free cycling map of the area.
We headed out from town on the West Ellensburg trailhead of the John Wayne Pioneer trail and peddled on a gentle upward gravel road that followed the Yakima River, heading west towards Thorp. Between the gravel and the often 30 mile an hour head wind, the trip was slow going. We jumped onto the road just outside of Thorp and explored a bit of the valley via side roads, meandering through rolling hills dotted with grass farms and horse ranches. The ride back was wicked fast with the wind at our backs! A short 23 mile journey was a good start to exploring this beautiful valley.
The John Wayne Pioneer trail is a fantastic railway conversion that traverses 150+ miles across most of Washington State into Idaho. Although the trail is a bit tough for riding as the gravel can be a bit thick and loose, it was worth the effort. Ellensburg is a great jumping off point for accessing the trail as you can work your way west up into the mountains through Snoqualmie Pass and dropping down into Issaquah.
Sunday’s adventure to follow.