Riding the Olympic Discovery Trail Sequim to Port Angeles (River and Prairie Section)

Summary: The Olympic Discovery Trail is a trail running through the Olympic Peninsula from Port Townsend to the Pacific Ocean. This is the first of several posts exploring different sections of the trail, mostly from a cycling perspective.
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The Olympic Discovery Trail is a cycling, pedestrian, and equestrian trail. This gem of a trail runs from Port Townsend to the Pacific Ocean on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. This post covers the Olympic Discovery Trail Sequim to Port Angeles section of the trail, also known as the East Central section or the “River and Prairie” section as it takes you through woods, past farmlands, and over rivers on old, wooden railroad trestle bridges.

To me, this section was the Olympic Discovery Trail, the last time I rode it. Since then, they’ve completed additional sections, which I plan to explore in later posts.

This is the first post in a series about the Olympic Discovery Trail It’s my goal to ride the whole trail but in sections. For all the posts in this series and additional resources and discussions, you can visit our Exploring the Olympic Discovery Trail page. If you’d like to view the interactive map, add a marker to this section of the trail, or download files of the route for your device, you can visit our map page for this section of the trail.

To view an interactive map and find downloadable route files, please click the map to visit our map page. (We don’t load the interactive map on the main post to keep the page loading quicker and to enable map loads only for those who really care about seeing the map.

Riding the Olympic Discovery Trail from Sequim to Port Angeles

If you’re ready for some beautiful scenery ride the Olympic Discovery Trail East Central section. This section of the Olympic Discovery Trail starts at the Jamestown Sk’lallam tribe in Blyn. From there, it continues until it hits the Port Angeles waterfront.

You’ll venture through Sequim, over creeks, and over rivers on old, wooden, former railroad trestles. You’ll ride past farmland, a very small airport, and end up riding along by the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into downtown Port Angeles.

Highlights of this Section of the Olympic Discovery Trail

Carrie Blake Park

The route will take you through Carrie Blake Park in Sequim. You might want to stop to check out this park which includes Japanese-style ponds and bridges and a fishing pond.

Railroad Bridge Park and the Dungeness River Bridge

Cycling over the Dungness River Bridge at Railroad Bridge Park

Ride or walk across a former railroad trestle. You’ll also find a few more old former trestles on this section of the trail. This is the most impressive of them.

Trains ran across this bridge, over the Dungeness River, from Port Townsend to Port Angeles from 1915-1985. According to this history of the bridge, it’s a “Howe truss” type bridge. Perhaps it’s even the last of its kind in Washington State.

Dungeness River Audubon Center

Also at Railroad Bridge Park (open again in Autumn 2021). If you’re interested in birds or other wildlife, this one’s for you! The center offers classes on a variety of subjects related to the area’s nature.

Johnson Creek Trestle

Going over the Johnson Creek Trestle.

This is another trestle, built in 1914 which saw its last train run in the 1980s. It was converted to part of the Olympic Discovery Trail in 2002 so you can now ride over where trains used to pass. But it’s fun to climb off your bike, too, and have a look down to the creek.

Morse Creek Trestle

Yet another trestle on this part of the trail.

Bagley Creek Bridge

I think the Bagley Creek Bridge is charming! The hill beyond it is not so charming (unless you love hills or have an ebike).

Wildlife

Some areas offer great birdwatching. I didn’t bring a long lens with me on the bike, so, of course, that’s exactly when a bald eagle appeared He (sorry, I don’t know the eagle’s pronoun) was soaring around just overhead as I climbed a steep hill and couldn’t stop. Only to take off when I reached the top.

Watch out, too, for deer. Years ago I had what felt like a Disney Princess moment. I was riding through a wooded part of the trail alone and a young deer started running alongside me. Being alone, I decided to sing to it and it abruptly ran off. I guess it wasn’t a Disney Princess moment, but a Princess Fiona moment. At least the poor creature didn’t explode!

However, this time, this one didn’t know what to do. I had another, similar encounter this time on the trail as well.

One of many deer I encountered on the Olympic Discovery Trail.

Cycling by the Strait of Juan de Fuca

The part of the trail when you come out of the woods and there, beside you is the Trait of Juan de Fuca. It feels like a reward! This part of the trail can be a bit breezy, even on a warm day.

Olympic Discovery Trail Sequim to Port Angeles: Quick Facts

How long is it?

This section of the Olympic Discovery Trail is around 26.1 miles one-way. A marathon-length! And, yes, there is a marathon that runs the trail! But, of course, you can adjust your trip length by parking in one of the other parking areas along the trail to adjust it down, or farther up the road if you want to lengthen your trip.

Can I ride this part of the trail in one day?

It depends on your fitness level, of course! I rode to Port Angeles and back several years ago on a hybrid bike when I was at a moderate level of fitness and was fine — happy but tired — on my return. This time I chose to go one-way and stay the night in Port Angeles as I wasn’t sure how my ebike battery would hold out. It turns out I would have been fine — I kept the motor off or low most of the time, only used one bar of charge, and my body would have handled the adventure as well. So, yes.

If I want to stay near the trail, where can I find lodging?

7 Cedars Casino in Blyn is very close to the trailhead, you can find plenty of lodging down the road a bit in Sequim or in Port Angeles. If I planned to stay overnight again in Port Angeles, I’d opt for the Red Lion as it’s right where the trail starts, near shops, and right across the street from a beach area. Not too far from the trail, though not at one end or another, Domaine Madeline is a terrific B&B and not too far from the trail.

There are also a couple of places to camp near the trail. The trail takes you right through Sequim Bay State Park and you’ll also find camping not right on the trail, but not too far away (at least if you’re cycling) at Dungeness Recreation Area. Camping at Dungeness is part first-come-first-serve and part reservation. Note that it’s been my experience that, for any campsite in the PNW you need to either make reservations very early or get there before the weekend to stake out your spot for first-come-first-serve sites.

Can I use any kind of bike?

I would say “yes,” with a caveat. I’ve done this trip on a hybrid bike, which was fine, and on an e-bike which was also enjoyable. I’ve seen plenty of road bikes on this section of the trail, but it was never something I wanted to try myself on a bike with 23″ wheels and no shocks whatsoever. Ouch!

When it comes to e-bikes, I don’t know that there’s any kind of rule or enforcement for what types of ebike you might use. Class 1 bikes would be fine. If you have a bike that will assist you at higher speeds, I’d recommend you slow down — both for your own enjoyment of your ride and for the safety of other people on the trail.

I was worried about my e-bike not being able to make the trip both directions on one battery charge as it has the annoying tendency to tell me that I have an estimated “23 miles left” (for example) on Eco mode. What I found was that I only used one bar or charge, kept the bike motor off or on Eco most of the time, and could have gone both ways in a single day on one charge.

What is the terrain for this section of the trail?

The Olympic Discovery Trail Sequim to Port Angeles section is mostly paved — some nice pavement as you’re going through Sequim and when you’re entering Port Angeles but with the large majority being roughly paved. You’ll find a few areas with gravel, but not many. And, as mentioned above, you’ll encounter some wood trestles.

Are there any restrooms?

You’ll find chemical toilets (“Honey Buckets”) spaced strategically along the trail. Most don’t have any area to lock up your bike, but your chances of someone riding off with your wheels here isn’t too great (though after having a bike theft — in a very different place — its something I always consider). I haven’t listed all of the toilets on the map here as they may move and they’re readily visible from the trail and frequent enough that you shouldn’t have trouble reaching one on time.

Where can I park for the Olympic Discovery Trail Sequim to Port Angeles section?

You’ll find public parking at one end of the trail behind the Jamestown Sk’lallam Library and on the other end at the Port Angeles Waterfront near the Fiero Marine Center. For this section of the trail, there are several other parking areas along its length, which are listed on the map.

I get lost all the time. Will I get lost?

Me too! Fortunately, the signs marking the trail seem to be much improved from when I rode it years ago. That time, I found myself in several strange places and encountered many other souls wandering around with their bikes with a lost look in their eyes.

This time I mostly stayed on the trail. I find the area that I tend to go off-route is in Sequim as it’s easy to miss the trail signs. Keep in mind that the trail goes THROUGH Carrie Blake Park. If you find yourself, instead, going past silos and into an area with farm animals, you’ve gone too far!

What about hills?

You’ll find a couple of large hills on this route. For one, you’ll see a warning sign before you go down as the hill turns abruptly just before a drop-off. I choose to walk my bike, here because I’m very cautious.

There’s another large hill that I’ve found other cyclists walking up (I say this to make myself feel better). This time, on my cargo bike with a load of camera gear and overnight stuff, I told my spouse I was very grateful for “hill assist mode,” only to find that I had not been using hill assist correctly and had lugged the bike up the hill without any assist. What do you call this? The “placebike effect”?

Are there bike shops on this section of the trail if I have a problem?

You’ll find bike shops either in Sequim or Port Angeles. And I’ve read, but not experienced, that there’s a bike repair station at the Dungness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park. Make sure you bring some bike tools and tubes so you can take care of your own issue if you have it on the trail.


Have any thoughts about this section of the ODT, or any thoughts not mentioned here? Leave a comment below or you can view and post in our ODT forum from our ODT Page.

Exploring the Olympic Discovery Trail East Central section by bike. Click to Tweet

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