In 2011, Ride Around Washington (RAW) will once again follow the well-liked “Cranberries to Apples” route of 2001. From the bountiful Willapa Bay estuary to the productive Leavenworth orchards, this spectacular ride is a study in ecological diversity. We’ll travel from the lowlands of the Washington coast to the highlands of the Cascade Mountains and the rivers, canyons and lakes of eastern Washington. We’ll be riding through lush forests, agricultural fields and desert vegetation. If you like to ride lightly-travelled roads, receive outstanding road support and enjoy great food and wonderful company, RAW is right for you!
Day 1 Raymond to Chehalis, 75 miles:
Our first camp is in the coastal town of Raymond, where the fresh water of the Willapa River meets the Pacific Ocean. Fishing, shellfish aquaculture and logging make this a unique community. Our ride will begin in the west, giving us a clear view of Willapa Bay and the ocean. Next, we’ll amble east, up a gentle incline to the headwaters of the Willapa River. Along the way we’ll enjoy the lush coastal vegetation and farmlands of Western Washington. We’ll cross into the Chehalis River watershed, through Pe Ell and into our next night’s camp in Chehalis.
Day 2 Chehalis to Packwood, 75 miles:
Our upstream journey continues along the Newaukum River through the farming and logging communities of Onalaska, Morton and Randle. As we get closer to the Cascades, the geological relief of the hills, mountains and river valleys becomes more pronounced. Luckily, we’ll have a second tune-up day as our route stays mostly along the valley floors. We will continue to take in the rich green of the western part of the state. Our day ends at a familiar campground in Packwood, which we used as our home base for RAW 2008, “The Tour of the Volcanoes.”
Day 3 Packwood to Yakima, 89 miles
It’s time to look up at what lies ahead, shift into a lower gear and climb. As our camp is at the base of White Pass, we’ll have the luxury of climbing in the cool of the morning. As you ascend, take time to observe the spectacular geology, including the majestic Mt. Rainier. Once at the top, we’ll reap the rewards of our morning efforts as we cruise downhill to the east. Along the way, we’ll see the shimmering waters of Rimrock Lake surrounded by high mountains that look as though they could be the remains of an ancient volcanic caldera. As we continue east, the climate becomes drier and the lushness of the west side of the mountains gives way to the long-needle pines and a sparse understory of the east. By the time we get to Naches and Yakima, we’ll see desert vegetation, along with plentiful fields and orchards made possible by the waters of the Yakima River. Once in Yakima, we’ll take advantage of several miles of the Yakima Greenway trail system. Our camp for the next two nights will be at one of RAW’s favorite venues, Sportsman’s State Park.
Day 4 Exploring the Yakima Valley, 0-50 miles
This is a day of possibilities, and it’s up to you on how you make the most of it. You can join a ride that visits several wineries, explore the sites in Yakima, or go white water rafting on the Tieton River. Or you can simply get some rest and enjoy a wine-tasting at the campground with old friends and new.
Day 5 Yakima to Cle Elum, 70 miles
We’ll be back on the Greenway trail as we head north through Selah and into the amazing Yakima River Canyon. Formed over the millennia by the constant flow of water over ever-rising land, the canyon has become narrow and deep. As we exit the upper end of the canyon we’ll be on the Ellensburg plain, one of the driest parts of the state, transformed by the waters of the Yakima River into fertile land for farms and ranches. In Ellensburg, we turn west on the Thorp highway, heading toward our camp in Cle Elum. Along the way we’ll look down on the Yakima River from the rim of the canyon. Once over the ridge, we will follow the Teanaway River into town. From camp, you might consider a one-mile ride into the town of Roslyn, where the hit comedy show Northern Exposure was filmed for six seasons.
Day 6 Cle Elum to Leavenworth, 52 miles or 89 miles
On this, the sixth day of the ride, you will be ready for another day of climbing. The route heads back through Cle Elum and along the Teanaway River for a few miles before a quiet climb over Blewett Pass. Once over the pass, we’ll rejoin US 97 for the descent into Leavenworth. We’ll circle around town from the north and come through the orchards that surround town. Once in camp, take some time to admire the Bavarian architecture. Riders who would like a longer ride will have the option of an additional 38-mile loop ride up the Chumstick highway, down the Tumwater canyon and into Leavenworth from the west. To close out the tour, an optional float trip in Leavenworth will give you the opportunity to soak your tired legs and enjoy the beautiful river valley.
As usual, RAW will limit its numbers in order to provide a more intimate experience for all only 250 lucky riders will be accommodated. Registration opens to Cascade members on January 10, 2011. RAW routinely sells out in less than 24 hours, so be sure put this date on your calendar.
Questions? Send an email.