The Olympic Discovery Trail, an ambitious rail-trail project, links Port Angeles and Sequim. Here's a guide to a 20-mile bike ride.

Like the historic railroad lines that undergird it, the Olympic Discovery Trail is a vastly ambitious project.

The 126-mile trail-in-progress spans the entire Northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula, from Forks, near the Pacific Coast, to Port Townsend on the Salish Sea. About 40 miles of it is fully paved and free of auto traffic — ideal for biking or walking.

The car-free segments are connected by a network of roads and highways, some of which can also be comfortably cycled. For horseback riders, a soft-surface track parallels many miles of the trail.

Recently, two friends and I pedaled a 20-mile stretch of the path between Port Angeles and Sequim. No traffic, few hills and a wide, smooth cycling surface made for a relaxing daylong ride.

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Mile by mile

Milepost 0-2: The Olympic Discovery Trail runs right through downtown Port Angeles and is easily accessed from East Front Street. As you make your way out of town, you pass through a semi-industrial area, including an environmental cleanup site. The surface of the path is part gravel here, and includes some bumpy portions. Don’t be concerned; it gets better as you head east. Closure note: Between Oct. 20 and approximately Dec. 21, 2011, sewer construction is closing the section of trail between Milepost 1.2 and Milepost 4, near the Morse Creek trestle; the shoulder of Highway 101 is the only alternative route.

Milepost 2-4: Flat and scenic, this portion of the trail hugs the coast, overlooking Port Angeles Harbor. (See closure note, above.)

Milepost 4-9: The path gradually climbs away from the water for a mile or two, which is the only mildly challenging part of the ride — some ups and downs through rural terrain.

Milepost 10-17: The trail flattens out and continues through bucolic farmland. We had several wildlife sightings along this stretch, including deer, coveys of quail and a bald eagle.

Milepost 17-19: At the 17-mile mark, riders encounter Railroad Bridge Park, which takes its name from a beautifully restored, early-20th-century trestle that crosses the Dungeness River. The nearby Audubon Center, with its display of local wildlife, makes a pleasant stop (www.dungenessrivercenter.org). From this point on, the landscape becomes more suburban en route to Sequim.

Sequim: Turn right on Sequim Avenue and look for the charming downtown area. This is the perfect place for a light lunch and walkaround before climbing back in the saddle for the return trip.

Note: As we retraced our route back to Port Angeles, we hit some strong headwinds. Next time, we’ll consider reversing our ride, starting in Sequim and pedaling to Port Angeles and back.

Lynn Jacobson: 206-464-2714 or ljacobson@seattletimes.com.