Explore WA’s Most Scenic Locations on Four New Budget Bike Tours
Cascade is offering seven three-day Tour Lites in 2023 including new tours in Winthrop, Ellensburg, Grays Harbor, and Long Beach.
Our fully supported Tour Lites are Cascade’s “best kept secret” for exploring Washington state on a budget.
Register for three tours by April 1 to get a free jersey!
Sunset view of the Methow from Sun Mountain Lodge.
Washington state’s Methow Valley is a gravel riding paradise thanks to its abundant community trails, remote Forest Service roads, and scenic mountain vistas.
This summer, you can explore the Methow Valley’s amazing bike routes, soak up its natural splendor, and visit the quaint mountain towns of Winthrop, Twisp, and Mazama during Cascade Bicycle Club’s new Winthrop Gravel Tour Lite, from June 23-25.
Winthrop Gravel is Cascade’s first all-gravel tour, and one of four new Tour Lites we are offering in 2023.
“The riding here is exceptionally beautiful and varied,” says Julie Muyllaert, co-owner of Methow Cycle & Sport, a Winthrop bike shop that is working with Cascade to design three rides between 32 and 61 miles. “There are valley views of the Twisp and Methow rivers, rolling foothills, plus panoramic views of the North Cascades Range.”
Cascade’s three other new Tour Lites will explore the Pacific beaches, dunes, and coastal forestlands of Grays Harbor and the Long Beach Peninsula, and pedal through the canyons of the Yakima River Valley near Ellensburg.
“Our Tour Lites are one of Cascade’s best-kept secrets,” says Executive Director Lee Lambert. “In addition to some great riding in scenic locations, these are social events where you can make new friends during cozy gatherings at local wineries, microbreweries, and cider houses.”
Lasting just three days, typically on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Cascade’s Tour Lites are also doable for busy folks who want a quick athletic getaway. Plus they’re affordable, costing just $180 for members, $200 for non-members, and $40 for youth up to age 18.
“We cap the number of riders at 200 to keep the tours relaxed and sociable,” says RJ Conn, the organizer of Cascade’s Tour Lites, which have been re-branded as the new Rides Around Washington. “Riders get the same full support as rides like STP with lunch stops, water and snacks, and mechanical assistance, but with a smaller and more familial crowd. You camp or book your own lodgings, which means you can stay at a luxury hotel or pitch a tent under the stars.”
Everyone who signs up for three or more Tour Lites by April 1 will receive a free Rides Around Washington jersey.
Lake Chelan’s Deep Waters
Tour Lite season begins April 28-30 with the popular Lake Chelan Tour Lite.
Fifty miles long and nearly 1,500 feet deep, Lake Chelan offers a gorgeous backdrop for three separate loops that climb into the hills and orchards just outside the lakefront town of Chelan.
This is a longtime favorite of Cascade members, and a great opportunity to visit one of eastern Washington’s most popular tourist towns in the spring before the summer crowds arrive.
Gravel riding is one of the hottest trends in recreational bicycling because it allows people to explore low-traffic dirt roads. Any bike with wider tires (35mm or wider) will work, including mountain bikes. If you’re new to gravel, get some tips from the Adventure Cycling Association.
Winthrop Gravel participants will pedal into U.S. Forest Service lands and visit alpine lakes, take in the sights from Loup Loup Pass and ride through designated Wildlife Areas. After an adventurous day in the saddle, there will be lots of time for socializing. Cascade will organize a gathering on the first night at the Methow Valley Ciderhouse, where participants can meet Lambert, chat with Cascade staff and socialize with other riders.
For foodies, the Methow Valley is known for its artisanal and locally sourced produce and meats. Winthrop, with its covered wooden boardwalks and Western charm, has restaurants ranging from the pub fare of the Old Schoolhouse Brewery, to cocktails and small plates at Copper Glance, plus bakeries, a pizza spot, and more.
Pacific Views: Grays Harbor and Long Beach
Late July and Early August will bring us to Washington state’s southern coastline for Tour Lites in Grays Harbor County and on the Long Beach Peninsula.
These back-to-back Tour Lites, with a day off in between, will give fans of Rides Around Washington a chance to book a weeklong bike getaway with six days of scenic riding and a rest day–plus the opportunity to camp or stay in hotels.
The Grays Harbor Tour Lite, July 30 to Aug. 1, will start and end each day in the coastal towns of Aberdeen (birthplace of Kurt Cobain) or Hoquiam. Riders will enjoy rolling coastal scenery on routes that skirt the shores of Grays Harbor North Bay and South Bay, and which visit Ocean Shores, Copalis Beach, and Grayland.
Just to the south, the Long Beach Tour Lite, Aug. 3-5, will pass by cranberry bogs and oyster farms, estuaries and sandy beaches, all around Willapa Bay.
Oyster fans should make sure to sample some of Willapa Bay’s famous oysters, raised in the cleanest estuary in the United States and renowned for their plump and briny sweetness.
Riders will also get to pedal on the Discovery Trail that passes through the dunes of the Long Beach Peninsula, where Lewis and Clark ended their journey to the Pacific.
Port Townsend and the Quimper Peninsula
Port Townsend is a Victorian seaport that’s famous for its wooden boats and sailing community. In late August, you can explore the wondrous riding of Washington state’s Quimper Peninsula during our Port Townsend Tour Lite, Aug. 18-20.
Daily loops range from a bumpy and challenging 35-mile route to a languid 55-mile route of rolling highlands and lowlands, bays, and beaches. Riders will visit the charming coastal hamlet of Port Ludlow and pedal to the historic sites of Fort Lawton and Fort Flagler, perched high on coastal bluffs.
Port Townsend restaurants offer a bounty of seafood and other delectables, and Tour Lite participants will enjoy an apres social with wine, food trucks, and music at Port Townsend Vineyards on the evening of Day One.
Ellensburg and the Yakima River Valley
Late summer offers the chance to explore the canyons, river valleys, and farmlands of central Washington during the new Ellensburg Tour Lite, Sept. 15-17.
Riders will pedal through the Yakima River Canyon, pass by sunflower farms, and have the option to ride on segments of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail.
Walla Walla Wine Wine
Once famous for its sweet onions, Walla Walla and the surrounding farmlands are now renowned for vineyards that produce some of the country’s finest wines.
The Walla Walla Tour Lite, Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, will bring riders on long loops through golden wheat fields and along verdant riverbanks. See photos and read about the fun we had in 2022 in our story “Hey Hay Walla Walla!”
“We have increased our Tour Lite offerings for 2023 because they are an amazing way to explore Washington state’s most beautiful landscapes and off-the-beaten-path communities,” Lambert says. “My wife and I try to ride as many of them as we can because they are fantastic social outings that support the local economies of these towns and small cities, and we always make new friends.”
Join for yourself, and experience the beauty of Washington on Cascade’s friendly bike tours.
More Tours Info:
Sign up for three Tour Lites by April 1 and you get a free Rides Around Washington jersey.