Bike Tours with Scenic Ferry Rides
Taking a ferry ride on a bicycle tour adds a whole new element to your trip! Feel the spray on your face, breathe in the fresh air, see the landscape from a different perspective and enjoy those “free miles.” Here’s some info on the bike tours that feature ferry rides and boat trips!
Shaped by glaciers thousands of years ago, the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan offers endless opportunities to hike and bike. On this tour, we visit Sleeping Bear Dunes, Betsie Lighthouse and the Little Traverse Wheelway, among other marvelous Michigan highlights. We travel to historic Mackinac Island via the Mackinac Island Ferry. The ferry is the only way to get there, since there’s no bridge to Mackinac, and motor vehicles are prohibited on the island anyway! Motor vehicles were restricted at the end of the nineteenth century because of concerns for the health and safety of the island’s residents and horses after local carriage drivers complained that automobiles startled their horses. This ban continues today – with exceptions only for emergency and construction vehicles – so you’ve got the island all to yourself!
From Port Townsend, we take the Port Townsend-Coupeville Ferry over to Whidbey Island for a delightful day exploring. Although Whidbey Island is only about 30 miles from Seattle, it feels much farther away. The island is home to some of the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful scenery, which is complemented by beautiful wooden buildings in pastel and earth tones. Whidbey Island is host to an amazing variety of birds, including the Pigeon Guillemot, which makes it a haven for birders. Deer, rabbits, and squirrels abound. Some show quality rabbits escaped from the fair awhile back and proceeded to breed and live in the City of Langley, which make for an interesting conversation piece. Gray whales migrate between Whidbey and Camano Islands during March and April and can be seen from both ship and shore. Orca, sea lions, and seals also can be seen fishing the waters surrounding Whidbey Island.
Boat rides abound in the San Juan Islands! The San Juans are an archipelago in the state of Washington, known for its gorgeous Pacific Northwest landscapes and wildlife. There are 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County. We visit the three ferry served Islands: San Juan Island (with the county seat Friday Harbor), Orcas Island, and Lopez Island. Horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island, one of the main isles, is home to Moran State Park’s old-growth forest and towering Mt. Constitution. San Juan Island is distinguished by the lively seaside town of Friday Harbor and Lime Kiln Point State Park, an orca-whale lookout. A highlight of this cycling vacation is the orca whale watching tour. Seeing these gorgeous creatures in their natural environment is an unforgettable experience.
Whites Ferry is the only cable ferry service that carries cars, bicycles, and pedestrians across the Potomac River. Early settlers recognized that the relatively still waters of the Potomac River at the location would provide an ideal location for a ferry. The first known ferry operation at the location was Conrad’s Ferry in 1871. After the Civil War, former Confederate officer Elijah V. White purchased it and made many improvements to the service. He named his ferry boat in honor of his former commander, General Jubal Anderson Early. On our Pittsburgh to D.C. bike tour, we take the ferry from Maryland to Virginia, to get to our lodging in Leesburg.
On our New York Adirondacks tour, we travel from Vermont to New York on the historic Fort Ticonderoga Ferry. This historic ferry floats vehicles between Ticonderoga, NY, and Shoreham, VT. The Fort Ticonderoga Ferry is one of the oldest ferry crossing in North America. Lord Jeffery Amherst, commander of British troops in the French and Indian War, established the ferry crossing in 1759 to connect forts on Lake Champlain with those on the Connecticut River. This is another cable-operated ferry. Two one-and-a-quarter-inch cables (salvaged from ski lifts) stretch across the lake bed to keep the vessel on course, so the captain doesn’t even have to steer!
On our way back to Burlington at the end of the trip, we have the opportunity to experience the Lake Champlain Ferry. Lake Champlain is the thirteenth-largest lake in the United States, reaching a maximum width of 12 miles and depths of more than 300 feet. This scenic ride is a great way to unwind after a gorgeous week of cycling in the Adirondacks. You might even be lucky enough to ride on the Adirondack, a boat built in 1913, which has sailed every summer between Burlington and Port Kent since 1954. Her only major modification during this time was the replacement of the Atlas Imperial engines with two 12V71 Detroit Diesel engines in 1970. The Adirondack is the oldest, in service, double-ended American ferryboat of all time!
We shuttle to St. Micheals Island from Oxford, Maryland on the Oxford Bellevue Ferry. The Oxford Bellevue Ferry, believed to be the nation’s oldest privately operated ferry service (since 1683!), crosses the Tred Avon River between Oxford, Maryland and Bellevue, Maryland. Owned and operated by Tom and Judy Bixler- the ferry operates from the spring to the fall.
On our tour of the historic Erie Canal, we take a fun and informative cruise past five of the original 1800’s locks. While this isn’t a ferry ride, it’s still worth mentioning! Three million gallons of water will fill Locks 34 & 35, the only double set on the Erie Canal, and raise the boat 50 feet. You’ll pass under Lockport’s “Upside Down Bridge,” Lockport’s “Big Bridge” (the widest bridge in the U.S. at 399 feet wide), through the “deep rock cut” and under lift bridges. The lively narration by the Coast Guard Licensed Captains is also accompanied by crowd-pleasing canal music, popular during the 1800’s.
Wilderness Voyageurs operates inn-to-inn bicycle vacations. Wilderness Voyageurs bike tours give you the opportunity to explore terrain from mountains to bay, to taste local delicacies and to create an unforgettable way of traveling that might just become a habit. From Colorado to Cuba, we offer something for every pedaling preference.
PO Box 97
Ohiopyle, PA 15470