Weekender: Port Ludlow Biking

Resort at Port Ludlow — a Perfect Peninsula Weekend

By Hilary Meyerson

Photo at right: Trail Nine, overlooking Puget Sound.

As soon as I felt the wind on my face from the ferry deck, everything seemed to slow down. I watched the blue waters of Puget Sound distance me from both the bustle of Seattle and the pressing matters of my inbox. By the time I drove off the Edmonds-Kingston ferry, I was ready to recreate and relax. Destination: Port Ludlow.

Port Ludlow was a logging and sawmill town in the first half of the 20th century, but that all changed when the Hood Canal Bridge was built in 1960. Soon folks were flocking to this waterfront community for its recreation and leisure opportunities, and a planned community sprung up.

The Inn at Port Ludlow, from Burner Point.

Today, the Resort at Port Ludlow is still bringing folks over. It’s always been known as an idyllic maritime getaway (boaters fill up every dock slip in the sunny months) but now it’s a draw for those exploring by boat, foot or two wheels.

An Unusual Ride

A bike is perfect for exploring this classic resort. We started with a slow loop around the land where the Inn sits, which was once the location of the old sawmill. A gravel path encircles the Inn, and leads out to Burner Point, where an impressive totem pole holds center stage. The pole, carved from a single red cedar, tells the story of the history of Port Ludlow. It also served as a perch for an eagle for much of our day. As we pedaled up, it launched off and swooped down to the water, rising up again with a fish dinner in its talons.

Timberton Loop Trail – great for riding with a friend.

We headed to Trail Nine, one of the most unusual biking trails we’d ever experienced and one just opened to riders this spring. The winding, paved path is an unusual byproduct of a defunct nine holes. The Resort at Port Ludlow has a great golf course, but an overly ambitious additional nine holes were abandoned (they were too steep for play) and the old cart path is now perfectly suited to bikes. The extra nine holes are now a wild landscape of tall grasses, rolling hills and reseeded sand traps — a manicured landscape gone native.

The nine-hole course is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, just one of two golf courses in the state to hold the distinction.

The uphill paved path looked deceptively easy — but proved to be a bit of a thigh-burner. At the top of the bluff, however, we were rewarded by expansive views of Puget Sound before speeding downhill toward a long soak in one of the Inn’s oversized tubs. Less than an hour after we’d ridden to the top of the hill, we were being seated for dinner.

Dining by the Bay

Winemaker’s Dinner: culinary delights with a view.

The Inn offers two great options for dining. The Fireside Restaurant offers a cozy setting. It offers traditional Northwest fare, but several notches above what you’d expect in a pub. We were tempted to grab a Northwest microbrew and warm up in front of the flames, but tonight a special treat awaited.

We were fortunate enough to be present for a unique and intimate dining experience, one of the Resort’s signature winemaker dinners. Periodically, the Resort brings in a vintner who pairs wines with a fabulous six-course meal created by Executive Chef Dan Ratigan.

The winemaker introduces the wines and takes questions from the diners. Dinners are held in the Sun Room, with panoramic views of Ludlow Bay. It’s a festive atmosphere, with diners seated communally at tables of six or eight. We sat with some new friends, and enjoyed a four-hour tasting experience we won’t soon forget. Luckily, we had only to walk up the stairs and roll into bed, sated after a perfect day.

More adventures

Looking out of our window the next morning, the water of the marina was like glass. The Marina rents double or single sea kayaks, and it’s no wonder why they are popular. We watched the sea otters pop up like furry buoys and debated grabbing a kayak to go see them up close. However, we wanted to get back on our bikes and decided to drive to the trailhead of the Timberton Loop.

Unloading the Mitsubishi for a muddy trail ride.

We loaded all our gear into our Mitsubishi Outlander, which we’d brought for its ability to haul our bikes while getting us easily in and out of muddy off-road parking lots. The fold-down back gate feature was perfect for giving us a seat as we switched into our bike cleats.

The Timberton Loop Trail was a great trail for buddy riding. It’s an old logging road and still used for access for maintenance vehicles for the golf course. Riding two abreast, we could chat easily while pedaling through the trees. The trail overlaps a portion of another trail, the Niblicks Loop, which we took a short detour on to peek down on the active golf course. This section connects to a new trail, the Olympic Terrace Loop, which will be completed by the end of this year. Our only complaint about the Timberton Loop? Four and a half miles weren’t enough.

Too soon, it was time to load the bikes back on the car and head across the Hood Canal Bridge. The ferry terminal was our gateway back to the workweek and all those emails. But we agreed we were coming back to Port Ludlow. There were kayaks to be paddled and bike trails to be revisited, not to mention the soaking tubs and gourmet meals.

It was a perfect peninsula weekend.

Hilary Meyerson is the editor of Outdoors NW and an avid bike rider.