Gig Harbor & Vashon Island Loop
 

Trip Date: 4-14-2007

Features:

  • Narrows Bridges (new and old)
  • Gig Harbor
  • 2 Ferry Rides
  • Vashon Island
  • Quatermaster Harbor
  • Vashon Hwy Paralleling the Water
  • Zoomies - Great Burgers and Ice Cream

Hazards:

 

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Vashon Loop
Tacoma - Gig Harbor - Vashon Island
23 MB 768 Kbits/Sec. Worth the wait!

Trip Details:

52 degrees today and the clouds are sparsely rolling overhead, pushed by 10 mph winds out of the Southwest. Earlier it wasn't looking to promising for a dry ride so I held of until the clouds broke up a bit. The riding club I belong to (Bike to Eat) had a ride planned to Discovery Bay. The plan was to leave at 10:30 AM and ride to Fat Smitty's in Discovery Bay. Fat Smitty's from what I here is a great little burger place known for it's hamburgers. Family comes first, and I had to take my step son to his baseball practice. This was all worth while as I got to see him nail a few baseballs. His dad picked him up for the weekend after practice. My wife was in Vancouver so I had the rest of the day to come up with a ride. Since I missed out on a Smitty's Burger, a good hamburger seemed to play a key role in today's ride. I remember reading about a little place on Vashon Island called Zoomies. Done deal! I plotted my ride on my PC, uploaded the maps and way points to my GPS and mounted my camera gear. I have ridden this ride a couple weeks prior with my nephew and didn't bring any camera gear. This ride is only approximately 46 miles but it's packed with breathe taking scenery and 2 ferry rides. I have to say this route is one of my favorites. Great for late day or after work rides.   Bike was loaded and I headed down the road toward the Narrows bridges. The ride across the bridge was a bit windy. Looking down one could see the white caps and turbulence from the tide and wind. After crossing the bridge I turned off and headed down Reid Dr. towards Gig Harbor. Soon after I rounded a bend to see one of my all time favorite Taverns, The Tides. For those of you who don't know about the tides it's a rustic but quaint little tavern right on the edge of the harbor. You can get to it by land and sea. They have limited dock space in front and rafting is the norm. Great place to sit outside on the water during the summer. There were allot of people walking the streets of Gig Harbor. This is the norm for a Saturday. It didn't take me long and to make my way around the harbor to the other side. From here I headed north on Crescent Valley Road. This is a 6.4 mile ride with a mix of straights and twisties through wooded areasand farm land. At the end of Crescent Valley Rd. it opens up to a spectacular view of the Puget Sound. Once you cross the bridge the Crescent Valley Rd. turns into Olalla Valley Rd.

Olalla Valley Rd is a 5.8 mile ride through sparsely populated area with some great country and turns. This soon brought me to Banner road. From Banner to the ferry terminal it was another 4.6 miles. There is a little town mini mart that seems a bit out dated but since I forgot to charge my camera batteries, they were a life saver. The Ferry toll booths are within eyes view of the mini mart. I made my way down the hill to the toll booths and paid my $6.50 fair to ride across to Vashon. I had about a 20 minutes wait. As I was waiting I took the time to snap some photos. I was approached by a guy who was curious about what the contraption was mounted to my bars. I explained to him it was a video camera. His curiosity didn't stop there, as he asked me what I do with it. I explained to him about this web site and the fact that as a hobby, I like to ride and put the information up here on the web for others to see. Well, he asked me what the web site name was and when I told him he was surprised and told me  he was shown my web site by a friend.  Small world! We talked a bit as the Ferry was nearing the terminal. He was a really nice guy and was heading to Vashon with his family. They were on bicycles and  yes, they wore their helmets. :-) Soon it was time to board the Ferry. Once we boarded and the Ferry was underway, I stood at the front of the Ferry gazing across the salt water facing into the sun and the wind. The wind was blowing about 15 mph on the water and it was quite a bit cooler. What a great view from where I was standing! The guy I met earlier came down to chat with me a bit more as we crossed the Puget Sound waters towards Vashon Island. One of the things I enjoy about traveling around on a motorcycle is that I get to see allot of cool places and meet some really great people. That's not to say I haven't run into the bad ones, but I like to be positive. :-)

The landing on Vashon was a bit rough due to the wind. As long as my bike stays upright it's a 10 point landing! An immediate left after the Ferry terminal took me on to Vashon Hwy. This is the best part of the ride. A great ride through the island with plenty of opportunities to take some great pictures. My lunch destination was only 4.7 miles down this road. This part of the ride has some initial turns but is pretty straight after that. You really need to keep your eyes peeled for Zoomies. It's a very small place close to the road on the right side and is very easy to miss. I pulled into the driveway on the North side and went around the back to the South side. It's a dirt and gravel parking lot with allot of pot holes or should I say mud puddles. Be careful navigating this lot. After entering the building I was surprised by how clean the place was. The employees were very friendly and seemed to be in great spirits. I ordered the Zoomies meal for $7.70. 10 minutes later I was sitting in a booth staring down at a great smelling burger, medium fries and a diet coke. I was really amazed how good the burger was. 2 patties, 2 pieces of American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles and really good slice of onion. Wow! Even the fries were great! On a scale of 1 to 10 I give Zoomies a 9 for great tasting burgers. Zoomies Web Site!

After letting my food settle I was back on Vashon hwy heading southwest. Just a few more miles and I was paralleling Quartermaster Harbor. This is a great little harbor that I used to visit when I had my boat. For boaters it's a great place to pull into to get out of the wind. As I past it, I saw a creek feeding the harbor on the right side as I crossed the small bridge. I decided to turn around and check it out. I was glad I did. I walked back over the bridge and took a few pictures. The creek was called Judd creek. There is an old abandoned barge on the harbor side that has some history to it. I read that it used to be an old bunk house called the John D. It was brought down from an Alaska mine a long time ago. A a friend of a local inherited it when the owner died, and found that it was filled with vintage sewing machines. He later restored some of the cabinets and then sold them. See article. On the west side of the bridge I looked out over the mud flats of Judd Creek. I was very impressed with the surroundings. After taking a few photos I walked back to my bike and then rode on.

The rest of the Vashon Hyw. was 4.9 miles of  twisties through beautiful Madrona forest. One of the things you will notice about this end of the island is the mumber of Madrona trees. The trees just open up to a spectacular view of Commencement Bay. At this time I have gone as far as I can. I pull to the front of the line of vehicles as Motorcycles and pedestrians are suppose to do. This side of the island faces west towards Tacoma. From this point on a sunny day, you can look left and see the Tacoma tide flats with Mt. Rainier towering above. Look right and you will see the narrows (not the bridges) and the tops of the Olympic mountain range. The ferry was just leaving the Pt. Defiance terminal. I spent the next 20 minutes taking pictures and watching the birds floating on the wind. I was graced by the brief appearance of a hawk who floated directly above the Ferry terminal just soaring in the strong wind.

The ferry soon arrived and unloaded it's passengers to take on the few waiting to board. The wind was much stronger at this end of the island. The ride across was nice and the sun was getting low in the west sky. The landing on the other side was a smooth one. As I headed up the ramp into Pt. Defiance park I thought to myself what a great little ride this turned out to be. If your looking for a short fun ride that's loaded with scenic views, this ride is for you. And don't forget to stop in at Zoomies on Vashon Island and enjoy a great tasting burger and Ice Cream.

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Tacoma, Washington - United States (USA)
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