May 9, 2016
Lime Kiln State Park, often better known as the Whale Watch Park, is a fantastic location to experience on our Kayak Tours from the water. It is also a great place to spend an afternoon exploring from land, and cycling is the perfect way to get there! From downtown Friday Harbor where the ferry docks, it is 9 miles out to the Park. With a few hills, this ride is a bit more strenuous than some of the other routes we can recommend, but the views are well worth the effort. This is also an excellent adventure to try on one of our electric pedal-assist bikes! We offer some of the best bike rentals on San Juan Island.
From our storefront location on Spring Street, cyclists can pack a lunch and head out of town towards San Juan Valley Road. Several minutes into the ride take a left on Douglas Road and enjoy the pastoral beauty of San Juan Valley. This area was used by the British during joint occupation of the island. In 1853, under the direction of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Belle Vue Sheep Farm commenced operation by releasing 1,369 sheep at the southern end of the island. As the herd grew, paths extended north and west to larger grazing areas such as San Juan Valley. Douglas Road terminates at a right hand jog in the road, becoming Bailer Hill. Despite its daunting appearance from a distance, this straight-away hill can be conquered with the right set of gears and a slow and steady pace. A few bends after cresting bailer hill, riders will be rewarded with sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains over the Strait of Juan de Fuca. From here it is all downhill to the Lime Kiln State Park with several designated pull-outs along the shoreline bluff.
At Lime Kiln State Park, riders can take a break from the saddle, lock up bikes, and head out to enjoy the views from the lighthouse. In summer months volunteers are often stationed at the point to answer any questions visitors may have about the Southern Resident killer whale population. The resident population of orcas frequent this area in the summer months as they feed on the salmon running north to their spawning grounds. This endangered sub-species is known for traveling extremely close to the shore along the State Park as part of their feeding behavior. With plenty of picnic tables and shoreline spots to have a picnic, this is a perfect lunch stop for riders. Killer whales aren’t the only wildlife that can be spotted from the park. Harbor seals, sea lions, porpoise, sea birds, and bald eagles are all common sights here. With several miles of hiking trails, riders can also stretch their legs while checking out the historic lime kilns situated in the woods north of the lighthouse.
For a return to town, riders can retrace their route back along the west side of San Juan Island and enjoy a long coast down Bailer Hill, or take a scenic detour down Wold Road to visit the Pelindaba Lavender Farm. The annual San Juan Island Lavender Festival takes place here the third weekend of July, but is still worth a stop even if it isn’t festival weekend. Past the lavender farm riders will turn right on Beaverton Vally Road, which leads back to Friday Harbor.