Author Topic: On tour, jumping to Pacific coast by Amtrak  (Read 4936 times)

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Offline Dr. John

On tour, jumping to Pacific coast by Amtrak
« on: October 15, 2013, 01:42:42 pm »
I am in western NC on tour and will likely ride to Greenville, SC and catch Amtrak to the west coast, and maybe later pick up the southern tier.  Any ideas on where to get off this time of year and how to pick up the Pacific Coast route would be helpful.  I have S&S couplings and could break down my bike to carry onboard, but it would be easier to stop at an Amtrak station with checked luggage.  I would love to see the Redwoods near the CA/OR border, but suspect it may be getting too late.  Detraining at San Francisco might be a better option, but I have spent little time on the west coast so I need advice. -Thanks

Offline Pat

Re: On tour, jumping to Pacific coast by Amtrak
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2013, 03:46:55 pm »
Hi John - I love the sound of your adventure, to ride the train across the country and then bike back.  Good for you.

AMTRAK trains run up and down California, Oregon, and Washington.  However, with only a few exceptions, the train stops are far from the ocean, usually with at least one mountain range, and sometimes a hundred miles of biking on chancy roads to get to the coast.  You are well advised to be aware of which stops have baggage service, and which do not.

There is also AMTRAK bus service, which looks like it runs up and down US-101 in California, but I do not have first hand knowledge of it.

If you do decide to take the train to the San Francisco Bay area, be aware that the AMTRAK trains actually stop in Emeryville, Oakland and San Jose, but not San Francisco.  It should be possible to get off AMTRAK in Oakland and catch a BART train under the bay to San Francisco.  From there, a rider would be only a few urban miles from the PCH route (Map 3).  But, you would need to carefully plan how to manage and protect your bike and baggage on the train.  I think there may also be ferries.

Further north, Portland and the stops up to Seattle are also options, as long as baggage service is supported.  From both Portland and Seattle, there are well beaten paths to the Pacific Coast Route.  Seattle is only a ferry ride away from Bremerton.  Portland is a hard days' ride (for us) to either Sea Side or Astoria.

If I do the Pacific Coast again, I will certainly revisit the Oregon Coast.  It is spectacular, the towns are spaced at bikeable distances from each other, and the shoulders are usually ample and safer (although there are always exceptions).  The most famous stretch of the California coast is from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo.  So detraining in the San Francisco Bay Area would make it easy to get to Santa Cruz in a day or two by bike.

I do not know that would fit with your plan to hook up with the Southern Tier to get home.  Something to consider, in southern California, is that AMTRAK does have stations in San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Happy Trails,


Offline Dr. John

Re: On tour, jumping to Pacific coast by Amtrak
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2013, 04:21:59 pm »
Thanks for the info Pat.  Actually I am technically homeless as I sold my house in Colorado, however I have funds to pay cash for a new (modest) home, and have been on tour for 5.5 weeks.  Eventually I plan on looking for a home in the Carolinas or Virginia, but I am enjoying touring so much I don't want to stop.  But the cold weather is on its way here in Appalachia, so I am heading south.

In 2 years I hope to pedal from Northern Alaska to at least Mexico if not all the way south.  So I will hit much of the US west coast then.  It looks like I might be able to get to San Jose by Amtrak, I'm not certain how hard it will be to get to the PCH from there.  But it sounds like fun to hit a .few beaches on the way

Offline jamawani

Re: On tour, jumping to Pacific coast by Amtrak
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2013, 04:50:05 pm »
It's mid October and you are talking about this year - right?
I would suggest no further north and San Francisco.
There has already been one wet spell with indian summer right now.
Soon, the northern coast will be socked in for the winter.

The Big Sur coast usually stays nice until late Oct and often into Nov.
Why not cycle between Monterrey and Morro Bay -
Then head inland to the desert parks - if they are open by then.
If the national parks are closed - Anza Borrego State Park is a good option.

That should keep you warm into December.

Offline Dr. John

Re: On tour, jumping to Pacific coast by Amtrak
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2013, 09:32:54 am »
Thanks jamawani ,  I'm thinking I will do something like that.  It looks like I will head to San Jose and start south.  Where would be a good place to head east? Any good ideas on routes to Anza Borego, or even a detour towards Death Valley?  And yes, it is a little hard to plan with the government shutdown.