Hop on E-Bikes To Explore Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Scenic Thurston County With Ease

e bikes Thurston County Olympia
Lori Barney (pictured) says during retirement she and her spouse Jay enjoy riding their class 1 e-bikes on the Chehalis Western Trail. The e-bike battery helps them comfortably bike farther and for longer periods, plus they can tackle hills more easily. Photo courtesy: Jay and Lori Barney

If you have been thinking about bicycling around Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and scenic Thurston County but aren’t sure if you have the stamina, consider hopping on an e-bike. Electric-assisted bikes give riders a battery-powered boost to keep them going if needed. And that option is particularly exciting for mature riders or those with physical challenges who want to continue bicycling outdoors.

Alan Paxton standing in front of a long line of bikes hanging vertically on a wall
Alan Paxton (pictured) of Trek Bicycle Olympia West says to choose the e-bike that fits your riding plans in urban and rural areas. Test ride an e-bike to help find the right model. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

“If the one obstacle they are facing is that hill, or it’s too far to get to the trail, that’s where e-bikes overcome that,” says Alan Paxton, manager of Trek Bicycle Olympia West. He notes that mature riders who want to keep bicycling as they age are his most frequent customers. Cam Sloan, owner of Big Stump Bikes, which is opening in July 2024 in West Olympia, agrees that older riders are a target customer of today’s bike shops. “If you want to do a longer ride, but the effort isn’t fun anymore, e-bikes offer the opportunity to do that,” Cam says.

An Overview of E-Bike Basics Before You Head Out

While much about riding e-bikes is the same as for regular bikes, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Select Your E-Bike. E-bikes are designated as class 1, 2 or 3 depending upon their battery assistance and speed levels. In selecting an e-bike, Alan says it’s important to know how you will use it and where you will ride. Are you planning to ride on flat streets, go up and down mountain trails, commute daily to work, or a hybrid of these activities? He says to shop around to get the right e-bike. “You get what you pay for,” Alan adds. Want to try one out? Ask a bicycle dealer if you can take a test ride. Or, rent an e-bike at the Swantown Inn in Olympia.
  • Be Safe. Alan says helmets are important safety tools for e-bikers, just like with regular bicyclists. E-bike riders must obey all traffic laws, signals and signs. Other safety rules for biking in Thurston County are listed here.
  • Check Routes. Generally, all e-bike classes are allowed on paved public roads and streets where bicycles are permitted, although jurisdictions can adopt restrictions. The Thurston Regional Planning Council provides bicyclists with an online route planning map and a GPS/location mobile map. Not all e-bikes are allowed on all trails. Watch for restrictions, especially if routes are designated as non-motorized trails and have a natural surface. For example, only specific e-bike trails are approved by the Department of Natural Resources in the Capitol State Forest North Slope.
photo of State Capitol in the distance from the marina
When e-biking in urban areas in Thurston County, take a break on Percival Landing on Budd Bay in Olympia, where you can see the State Capitol in the distance. E-biking lets you explore area points of interest while keeping you healthy and active. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

Points of Interest in Planning Your E-Bike Rides in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County

Now that you are on your way, here are several points of interest to consider when planning your local e-bike routes.

Tumwater retirees Jay and Lori Barney own class 1 e-bikes and say the Chehalis Western Trail is their favorite route. They opt to use the trail rather than busier roads near their home, although they are planning future local excursions on city streets.

e-biker on the Capitol State Forest North Slope trail.
Some areas, such as the Capitol State Forest North Slope, permit e-bikes only on certain trails. Make sure you check before you hop on your e-bike. Photo courtesy: Friends of Capitol Forest

You Will Love E-Biking in Thurston County

Jay and Lori love riding their e-bikes, and they say you will, too. “Anybody that wants to can do it,” says Jay. They add that these bikes keep them healthy and active. “It makes getting out and doing things easier,” says Lori.

For more information on what to see and do as you hop on your e-bikes for treks in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and throughout Thurston County, visit the Experience Olympia & Beyond website.


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