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July 25, 2010 12:00 AM

Tested trails: Three favorite drives that make the most of the Pacific Northwest

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Members of The Horseless Carriage Club of America park and enjoy the waterfront on their nice, slow drive to Scenic Beach State Park on Hood Canal. (Photo courtesy of the Horseless Carriage Club of America)

No one knows the Pacific Northwest's best-kept touring secrets like the road warriors of our local car clubs.

Three clubs -- the Horseless Carriage Club of America (Seattle-Tacoma region), the Puget Sound Region of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America and the Puget Sound Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America -- have agreed to share their favorite routes with anyone looking for a satisfying summer drive.

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1. Take it slow

Destination: Scenic Beach State Park
Starting point: Bremerton Ferry Terminal
Distance (one-way): 27 miles

Does slow and meandering sound like your speed? For members of the local chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, whose early-19th-century automobiles were built when life moved at a much slower pace, nice and easy is the only way.

Chapter President Tony Zimmerman loves driving the back roads from Bremerton to Silverdale to Hood Canal's Scenic Beach State Park. There's plenty to savor along the way: dazzling views of the bay, plus sweeping vistas of the Olympic Mountains from the park.

Stop at Scenic Beach for a picnic lunch, or drop in for a slice at Seabeck Pizza, where you can watch the boats floating on the harbor.

Directions:
Go north from the Bremerton Ferry Terminal on SR 303 for 50 miles.
Take the Central Valley Road exit to go west on Northwest Bucklin Hill Road, then south on Bayshore Drive Northwest into Silverdale.
Leaving Silverdale, head west on Northwest Byron Street, then go south on Silverdale Way Northwest, which becomes Chico Way Northwest.
Head west on Seabeck Highway Northwest, continuing west on Northwest Holly Road, then veering north on Seabeck Holly Road Northwest.
A left at Miami Beach Road Northwest and then a slight left at Scenic Beach Road Northwest will take you to Scenic Beach State Park.

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2. Scenic route

Destination: Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve
Starting point: Newport Hills Park and Ride, I-405
Distance (one-way): 98.6 miles

Models in the Vintage Chevrolet Club run the gamut from a 1940 Business Coupe to a 1964 Corvette Stingray. So the club crafted easy-paced, back-roads routes that would be scenic and fun -- and suitable for any style of car.

One of the group's favorite drives is to Thurston County's mysterious Mima Mounds, a natural preserve where large mounds on the prairie's landscape have sparked creation theories ranging from giant gophers to aliens. The road follows meandering river channels dotted with produce stands.

The club recommends a stop in the historic town of Tenino along the way. Scotty B's '50s-Style Diner is a perfect spot for lunch, and the Tenino Depot Museum displays oddball curiosities such as the wooden money the town used during the Great Depression.

Directions:
From Bellevue, head south on I-405, then SR 181 South to just past Auburn.
Turn left at 15th Street Southwest, right at C Street Southwest, left at Ellingson Road, right onto A Street Southwest and onto East Valley Highway East.
Turn left at Valley Ave East and continue on SR 162 East.
Turn right at Orville Road East and continue onto Kapowsin Highway East. Turn left at SR 7 South, then right at SR 702 West.
Turn left at SR 507 South and follow it into Tenino.
From Tenino, head west on SR 507 then north on McDuff Raod Southeast.
Continue onto 143rd Ave Southeast, then right at Tilley Road Southwest, then left onto SR 121 South.
Continue to follow Maytown Rd Southwest, then 128th Ave Southwest.
Turn left at Mima Road Southwest, right at Bordeaux Road Southwest and the right at Marksman Road Southwest.
A sharp right in 1.3 miles takes you to the Mima Mounds.

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3. The winding road

Destination: Snoqualmie National Forest
Starting point: East Sunset Way and Second Avenue Northeast, Issaquah
End point: Bellevue
Distance (round-trip): 290 miles

BMW Club drives, says tour coordinator Scott Hieronymus, are all about "fun roads, beautiful Northwest scenery and great people."

If you have a car that loves curves and you're looking to unleash your inner performance driver, try this twisting, turning drive through the mountains. It takes you from dense forest up to gorgeous valley views, along riverbanks, through desert scrub brush and past sleepy towns.

Stretch your legs at Federation Forest State Park (about a half-hour after Enumclaw), which has an interpretive center and a few short hikes. The Whistlin' Jack Lodge at Chinook Pass is the club's favorite restaurant, store and gas station all rolled into one.

Directions:
From Issaquah, head south on Issaquah Hobart Road, continuing onto 276th Avenue Southeast and Landsburg Road Southeast.
Turn left at Southeast Kent Kangley Road, then right at Retreat-Kanaskat Road, and a slight right at Cumberland Kanaskat Road.
Continue onto Veazie Cumberland Rd Southeast, then 284th Ave Southeast and Farman Street North.
Turn left onto SR 410 East and travel into Snoqualmie National Forest for about 90 miles.
Turn right at SR 12 West and travel for about 46 miles.
Turn right at SR 123 North for 5 miles and turn left at Stevens Canyon Road.
Continue on Paradise-Longmire Road, then National Park Highway/SR 7.
Turn right at SR 161 North and travel for 45 miles.
Take SR 167 North toward Seattle/Yakima, then I-405 North into Bellevue.

(Maps by Sara Kennedy)