Biking in and around the Okanogan Highlands

Today’s post was written by WAbikes board member Sarah Gelineau of Tonasket.

Sarah checks out Beaver Lake.

Sarah checks out Beaver Lake.

It’s March. We’re still a good 6 weeks away before the roads will be cleared up enough to ride on.  I hop on my bicycle mounted on the trainer stand and look out the window towards Mount Dugout and start pedaling, keeping in shape, but knowing I’m not going to reach that destination. So my mind wanders to the rides I’ve been on. One of the reasons I like to bike is to explore and have the sense of adventure.

We’ve now lived in the Okanogan Highlands for 5 years, and while it’s better known as a great fishing and hunting area, it also offers some great solitary, backroad bicycling. Adventure bicycling. Riding for miles with barely any traffic and the opportunity to perhaps see deer, elk, bear, moose, coyotes and plenty of birds and waterfowl, not to mention the incredible plethora of wildflowers early in the year.

As I pedal to nowhere I think of the day rides my husband and I like to do:

Bonaparte Lake Road/Toroda Creek Road Loop

Peaceful riding on Toroda Creek Road.

Peaceful riding on Toroda Creek Road.

This roughly 40 mile loop can be started in any of several locations. We choose to park just off Highway 20 at Bonaparte Lake Road and ride north past Bonaparte Lake, over to Lost Lake and back, down to Beaver Lake and return to the highway via Chesaw Road, then Toroda Creek Road. We carry our own food and water and lunch at one of the lakes and listen for Loons. If we don’t bring a picnic we may lunch at the Bonaparte Lake Resort or at the Wauconda Café on Highway 20, which we pass on our return.

Republic to Danville

The Golden Tiger Pathway, a Rails-to-Trails trail, begins across the road from the Republic High School and is a great starting point. The trail is paved for about 2 miles where we return to Highway 20 to make our turn north on Highway 21 towards Curlew and Danville. Far North Cycles is located near this corner. This is a great open country ride. We pass Curlew Lake and often have lunch on the Kettle River in Curlew. The highway follows this incredibly scenic river to Danville. If we turn around here, it’s a nice 62 mile day.

Republic towards Keller

This is a beautiful ride in a valley alongside the San Poil River. The rock cliffs are amazing and we never tire talking about what must have occurred to form the geology of this area. Keller is about 43 miles south of Republic. We generally ride until we declare it’s lunch time then find a spot at the river to eat before we turn back. In Republic, the Republic Brewing Company is great stop.

Tonasket-Oroville Loop

This rather flat Okanogan Valley ride is a wonderful ride along the Okanogan River especially on very hot days. From Tonasket we ride Highway 7 on the west side of the river to Oroville past  orchards and farms, and then ride Highway 97 for our return. Esther Bricques Winery and Vineyard, just north of Ellisforde on Swanson Mill Road, is a local favorite spot on Thursday evenings for snacks, fabulous, medal-winning wines and the pleasure of listening to local musicians.

Accommodations and Such

Aside from the motels and inns available in Omak, Tonasket, Oroville and Republic, there are three lodging opportunities to note and consider: Ivetta Howell, a Warm Showers host, is located 2 miles south of Tonasket, the Tonasket Visitor’s Center offers camping in the back of the center, and Buena Vista Quilting and Lodging, a B&B, is located just south of Oroville on Highway 7. Also, while in Tonasket, check out the Community Cultural Center. There is always something going on – music, lectures, theatre, craft days, or perhaps it’s the rummage sale weekend. Many of the events have scrumptious home-made dinners at a very reasonable price.

Related Posts:

Explore Snohomish County on McClinchy Mile Bike Ride

More Progress Made on USBR 10

Exploring the Methow Valley on Two Wheels

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