Northeast Washington is a land of low mountain ranges, river valleys, forests, ranches and unparalleled scenery. The region includes the Kettle Range to the west and the Selkirk Range of the Rocky Mountains to the east.
The Kettle, Columbia, Colville, and Pend Oreille rivers have carved out pastoral valleys running north and south through the region. The Huckleberry Range lies between the Columbia River (Lake Roosevelt) and the Colville River valley. Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, offers uncrowded campgrounds, boat launches, swimming beaches, and miles and miles of undeveloped lakeshore beauty.
From the pastoral tranquility of the valleys, to the stunning vistas of the mountain passes, the scenery throughout all of Northeast Washington is breathtaking. Around each bend and over each grade a new landscape unfolds before you.
Stevens County has more than 800 miles of paved roads that are perfect for road cycling. Within just 40 miles of Colville is a web of more than 650 miles of paved, lightly traveled rural roads that weave and wind through the valleys, benches, and divides of the region. Over 150 miles of roads skirt the shoreline of Lake Roosevelt.
The number and variety of roads makes the region unique in what it offers to road cyclists, and provides a spectacular road biking experience. Northeast Washington has multiple rides for every road biker, regardless of ability. You can ride short or long. You can ride easy or hard. Soft peddle long or short loops over relatively level valley routes winding through fields, pastures and woodlands, with mountain ridges always looming above. For hardcore climbers, there are multiple steep mountain challenges with the reward of magnificent vistas awaiting at the summit.
From Colville the ride possibilities are endless. You can embark upon multiple 15 mile “lunchtime” loop rides or you can spend the day in the saddle on multiple loops of all distances and difficulty levels. Whatever your biking desire is on a particular day, you will find your ride in Northeast Washington.
Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties are linked east-west by State Highway 20, the ‘Sherman Pass Scenic Byway’. Hwy 20 is also nationally designated as US Bike Route 10, a cross-country cycling route starting in Anacortes, Washington and ending on the east coast. Hwy 395 starts at the Mexican border and travels north through Colville to Canada. Hwy 20 and Hwy 31 in the Pend Oreille river valley are segments of the International Selkirk Loop.
For road biking, Hwy 395 generally has a smooth, six to eight foot shoulder. Hwy 20 has generally a three foot shoulder, and is traveled by hundreds of long distance cyclists on their way across the country on US Bike Route 10. By urban standards these highways are lightly traveled. Nonetheless, in planning your routes, these highways are busier and can generally be avoided in favor of the hundreds of miles of less traveled backcountry roads that meander through the valleys, benches, prairies and drainages of Northeast Washington. However, if you need or wish to go on Hwy 395 or Hwy 20, they are safe, smooth, generally flat and fast.
When traveling on Hwy 395 south of Colville, chose the Old Arden Hwy, Old Hwy 12 Mile, and McLain as segments which veer off and run parallel with, and back onto, the highway. Northwest of Colville, most riders prefer bucolic Greenwood Loop to get to Kettle Falls rather than Hwy 395/20. Hwy 20, east of Colville, can generally be avoided on side roads for the first 10 miles.
Biking elevations range from 1280 ft at Lake Roosevelt, to 5574 ft at Sherman Pass, Washington state’s highest year round maintained pass. Other mountain passes provide biking challenges, including Boulder Pass (4110 ft) and Flowery Trail Pass (4040 ft.) Nothing is flat and nothing is straight.
The most challenging climbs are on the paved county roads over the Huckleberry Range, which are generally steeper than the highway passes. Even the valley rides have undulation and variety. There are plenty of easy rides, but there will always be a grade that will get your heart pumping. For climbers and strong riders who want a challenge, there are numerous short and long climbs on which you can “knock yourself out”.
Colville (pop.4668), Kettle Falls (pop.1595), Chewelah (pop.2602), Northport (pop.295), Valley (pop.153), Springdale (pop.279) and Hunters (pop.306) all provide food, drink, sundries, restaurants, and basic road necessities. Colville has a sporting goods store and bike mechanics. There are “country stores” at Boundary/Waneta, Arden, Addy, Blue Creek, and Daisy that will provide most of what you will need on the road.
The area is served by cellular service throughout, however in some canyons or low points service may be spotty, but if you climb “to the top” service is generally good. Lodging is available in Colville, Kettle Falls, and Chewelah and there is a bike hostel on Hotchkiss Rd about 5 miles southeast of Colville. The Stevens County Fairgrounds (three blocks from downtown Colville) has camping. Numerous National Park Service campgrounds along Lake Roosevelt have water, rest rooms and may have vending machines. There are resorts on Waitts Lake and at Lake Gillette at the Little Pend Oreille lakes.
You must understand that there is not going to be a convenience store at every intersection. These roads are so pristine and so lightly traveled because this is rural America. There will be stretches where you will be on your own. Plan accordingly.
Your biking adventures unfold with the maps that lay out over 800 miles of spectacular cycling routes in Stevens County. Start at Mile Post 0 (MP-0), the clock tower located in downtown Colville. From this point of reference you can begin your road biking adventures. A number is assigned to county intersections critical for bike navigation. To follow a loop or route, just “connect the dots”. The maps denote the distance between intersections. If an intersection has been numbered, it has paved roads going in all directions that are appropriate for skinny tire road bikes.
Maps are available for the Colville Loop, Colville North, and Colville South. Each map allows you to easily navigate your intended route, and to make informed adjustments along the way.