Author Topic: Local insights on loop trip from San Francisco summer 2015  (Read 247 times)

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Offline spyle

Local insights on loop trip from San Francisco summer 2015
« on: December 18, 2014, 04:37:12 pm »

My wife and I are celebrating our 25 anniversary this summer.  I am looking for local insights on planning a 5-7 day self supported trip from San Francisco up the coast and back.  We traveled cross-country on bicycles many years ago and are looking at this trip to get us back into touring.  Your insight as to start location, common camping areas, summer traffic conditions, must see sights, etc. would be helpful.

Thanks,

Stephen

Offline cgarch

Re: Local insights on loop trip from San Francisco summer 2015
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2014, 07:56:50 pm »
OK, I'll byte. Let's have a little more info first. Are you thinking that you will simply head up CA 1 for a few days then turn around and come back? That's one option and since you say 'coast' I presume that's exactly what you mean. If that's what you're thinking then the ACA route and stops should satisfy your needs. How far north do you want to go? Bodega Bay? Ft. Ross? What you could do is take in some side trips while headed north - Pt. Reyes comes to mind - it's a great out and back.

Or are you thinking you would like to head north, say inland first (like maybe the Napa Valley), head out to the coast, and then back to SF?

How familiar are you with the area?

I'll offer what I can based on your reply.

Craig
Santa Rosa, CA

Offline spyle

Re: Local insights on loop trip from San Francisco summer 2015
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2014, 11:49:44 am »

Thanks for your quick response.  I drove up the coast in college but have not been this way since, so my knowledge of the area is very minimal.  We will be ordering the route maps from ACA and I have used them in the past with good success.  From my initial review of the California map in my atlas, there appears to be an out route via the coast and back via inland route.  By then we will have contacts in the area for local transport, so I am assuming we can start on the coast just outside of SF and head north, then come back via an inland route.  We like to wander and speed or distance is not the goal.  Camping is our preferred lodging type.  What is your take on traffic with these routes?  As this will likely be in early to mid July, do you anticipate the need for advanced reservations for camping locations?

Thanks,

Stephen

Offline jamawani

Re: Local insights on loop trip from San Francisco summer 2015
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2014, 08:31:35 pm »
Not sure what part of the summer you are talking about -
Nor how many miles pre day you are comfortable with.

But the prevailing wind from the northwest can be tough on northbound cyclists.
(Especially those who haven't toured for a while.)

One possibility is to take the Vallejo Ferry across San Francisco Bay -
Then ride up Silverado Trail thru the Napa Valley.
By then, you should be able to pull of the climb to Clear Lake.
Then loop over to the coast at Fort Bragg.
Finally, you would ride down the coast with a tailwind -
And end your loop at the Golden Gate Bridge.

About 350 miles - 50 mpd if you ride 7 days, 60 if you take a day off.
(Can be shortened if you skip Clear Lake and ride back road parallel to US 101.)

Offline cgarch

Re: Local insights on loop trip from San Francisco summer 2015
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2015, 12:56:25 am »
Apologies for the lengthy delay - the holidays got in the way. Jamawani makes a plenty of good arguments for that route. I agree that riding north up the coast is not recommended - the wind will beat you down. Plus if you ride south on the coast, you're on the ocean side of the road which is a lot more pleasant. I would suggest that you have two choices - a loop ride that goes up through either Napa Valley or Sonoma, crosses over to the coast and then returns south on 1 to SF. Or a straight up out and back on the coast.

First, if camping in state parks then hiker-biker sites are first come, most everyone served. If you want a conventional site, then you'll need reservations. The tough part is connecting the dots if you choose to do an inland loop for camping sites.

Suggested Loop route: SF to Vallejo by Ferry, ride to Bothe-Napa SP, north of St. Helena. B-N SP has HB sites and a lot of good eats along the way. Here it gets tough - do you go to Clear Lake as Jamawani suggests or do you start thinking about the coast. Clear Lake is a reasonable destination but it is hot in July, Worse, Getting to Clear Lake is a bitch. You don't want to take 29 unless you have to - it is narrow and has relatively heavy traffic. 29 twists and turns as it climbs the shoulder of Mt. St. Helena and has no shoulder - It's highly not recommended. There is an alternate - further north of Calistoga is Ida Clayton. Great scenic road but just a stinker of a climb for several miles. Over the county line (to Lake County) the road turns to powdery dirt for the descent into Lake County on Western Mine Road. Once past that you rejoin CA 29 for the ride to Middletown. From there you would continue on 29 towards Kelseyville and Lakeport. There is Boggs Mtn State Forest, but I'm not sure of the camping opportunities. And this to me would be the problem with this route, is the limited number of camping opportunities in this area. Personally, I don't care much for Lake County and would suggest you avoid it.

So if you don't go to Clear Lake, then you could continue north of Calistoga on CA 128 towards Geyserville. Above Geyserville there is a KOA where you could probably camp. From this location you would track back through Dry Creek Valley to head towards the Russian River. Alternatively you could cut through Healdsburg (great eats and lodging) and work towards the Russian River (Westside Road, River Road). There's a campground near Korbel Winery, think it's called School House (private) that would be worth a shot. The gist is that you would start to work through the Alexander Valley towards the Russian River to head out to the ocean. Road traffic is moderate and the roads have decent shoulders. If you consider this area and route do not give any thought to going towards Warm Springs Dam and trying to reach the coast by way of Skaggs Springs - Stewarts Point Road. Unless you like hot temperatures, extreme grades (12-18%) and no services - including water - zip, nada zilch. It's 40 miles of the most beautiful and rugged terrain but a nightmare if you are fully loaded and just returning to touring. Stick to working towards River Road and CA 116 on back roads to reach the coast.

Presuming you stick to this itinerary, CA 116 will take you to the coast. A short run down to Bodega Bay will take you to Bodega Dunes SP with its teensy-weensy HB site. Within easy reach of town for supplies. Options include riding out to Bodega Head and various hikes. From Bodega Bay traveling south takes you to SP Taylor SP with more HB sites. There's also a great B&B in Olema, The Bear Valley Inn, run by a former LAB board member - you get a discount if you arrive by bike. A good spot to hole up for a day or two and ride out to Pt. Reyes and back - 40 miles or so.

Presuming you've stuck this route out, you're now 1 day away from returning to SF. So there's a good 5-6 days of riding in some fabulous territory.

If you want to do the coastal O&B then it's just those last few days in reverse order going north before you turn south. Hope this helps.