Vashon redux: Foot Ferry et al.

[30-50 Miles, 1650 feet total elevation gain] Map,(88KB) Photos   (no frames)

Since 1998, Vashon Island has been my favorite ride ... In 1998 I did it 5 times and 8 times (last in October) in 1999.

2000 was the same as previous years (Although it seems that there are more and more cars and development on the island) and as of this writing (7/2000) I have done it 5 times ...(Feb, Apr, May, June, July). However it saddens me to say that the Saturday Foot Ferry to Vashon ended June 17th, 2000 - a result of a measure (I-695) in Washington State which reduced Auto excise tax to a pittance. Washington State DOES NOT have a state income tax but I'll leave that discussion to another forum. The weekend foot ferry service was cancelled. It was rather special while it lasted and hopefully it will come back one of these years. I will probably switch my monthly Vashon rides to Fridays - and forgo Frump rides.

Ah well intended plans of a millennium summer; as it worked out I didn't do any Vashon rides in 2001. I did do it once (so far) in 2002 accompanied by my RANS Rocket riding son-in-law

In 2003, I did it in late September and the ride is as nice as ever. Dokton road (in Ellisport) was closed for shore repair and I had to make a detour past the High School and then Vashon Highway. The road should be open by the time that you read this (11/03). My rides around Vashon seem to be now a yearly ride but I hope to increase the frequency in the future. The foot ferry is still running on weekdays on a commuter schedule. Other news is it appears that the exercise bikes at Tramp bay have multiplied.

It's been 6 years since my last ride around Vashon (gee time does fly doesn't it) but on September 23, 2009 I did it again. Despite getting a late start (11:20 AM from Faunteleroy) and a missed turn (which got me to Burton Park) it was a fine ride. What impressed me this time was it feeling more and more like Bainbridge with it's "monied" houses but it (Vashon) still has some of that historical hippiesh, artistic and farming feel. Even though my understanding of Proust's "Rememberance of Things Past" is quite simple it will explain how some of my favorite landmarks have changed - The "Gas" station is now a Jewish Common Center, The bright Aquamarine house up from Docton is now a stately white and my Car ridden mystery is now a carefully cleaned/pruned gated driveway. (Then and now pics will follow).

The reason I like the ride (besides it's wonderful bicycling pleasure) is (of course) because I don't have to drive to it's start ... I take the Foot Ferry from downtown Seattle on Saturdays (closed since 6/2000) which is a bit problematical (if all you websters start using it) as only 10 bicycles are allowed. If you can go during the week ...since the foot ferry is a commuter boat, you'll be going in an opposite direction from the working folk. This noisy, small foot ferry makes a great start/finish to the rides! Actually there are three foot ferries, the Skagit, Tyee and Snohomish in order of "class" ...usually I took the Skagit or Tyee.

Vashon itself is a sylvan joy (for the most part - it's getting built up with the monied like the rest of the Seattle area) and a physical challenge (at least for me!) The West end of the loop is probably some of the best bicycling in the Seattle area. Swooping tree-lined viewed way without much traffic or even houses built close to the road.

  • Take Foot Ferry from Downtown Seattle or Ferry from Fauntleroy in West Seattle.
  • Ascend the first "killer" hill - it's 300 feet in 1 mile. It's doable!
  • The top of the hill is at the Fire Station - take a breather!
  • Turn Right at the Real Estate office (pick up a free map if you don't have one already) and go down SW Cedahurst Road.
  • Continue in a counter-clockwise direction for about 8-10 miles - these are the real "killer" for me - deep rolling hills.
  • Pick up Wax Orchard Road SW at SW 220 St and continue South.
  • These days I turn left at SW 248 St (Peter from the UK suggested it once and I liked it) and SW Shawnee Road going sweet downhill all the way to Vashon Highway SW. You can optionally (rather than turning on 248) continue South to Vashon Highway SW and turn left at about SW 273 St, (Don't take the ferry to Tacoma which is the other direction.)
  • Stop at the Store at SW Burton Drive
  • Optionally ... take a tour around Burton Acres Park and eat in the park and rent a kayak.
  • Continue on Vashon Highway and optionally ...
    • Go to Ellisport (My usual route along the water)
    • Go to Maury... which is quite hilly but has a lighthouse (Pt. Robinson) which is not only a good lunch spot - was the epicenter of a mild earthquake earlier this summer (1999) and is also the spot to start the magic enchanted way.
    • Go straight on Vashon Highway passing the Bicycle in a Tree (I posed there in the last century) at Sound Foods (which in 2002 had new owners and good food) and Stewart Brothers Coffee (closed in 2002) but sharing the road with traffic and less scenery than the other options.
  • From Ellisport continue on the shore and climb [Sorry this is a killer climb but very short!] to Ridge Road on SW 204th St
  • Continue on Ridge Road and turn right onto SW Bank and enter town.
  • Town is about 5 miles from the Seattle Side Ferry Terminal. Check the schedules (either Foot or Fauntleroy - weekday or weekend) and leave yourself 20-40 minutes.
  • Optionally If you have some extra time, take the little loop (Thanks to Kathleen at FreeRange Cycles who gave me this loop and also some of the Ellisport route) on the map on the way to the ferry. Turn right at 171st street and take Dilworth road down to Beals Pt, and then SW Olinda and 156th back to Vashon Highway to the ferry.
  • The last payback is that hill - down 300 feet in 1 mile that we came up on!

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Last update: 09/24/09