Author Topic: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma  (Read 11040 times)

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Offline h.mccormack

Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« on: May 11, 2015, 05:31:13 pm »
Hi everyone - I'm coming over from the UK in early July and planning a cycle tour that firstly takes in parts of Oregon and WA and then hopping down to spend 4 - 5 days travelling from Davis CA over, thru and around the Napa and Sonoma wineries before hitting the coast and ending up in San Francisco. I would like to camp if at all possible, but there seems to be very few campgrounds before you hit the coastal area. So I'm looking for advice on a route that could take me some beautiful scenery and wine country, allow me to camp if poss but if not some nice B&Bs or possibly some hospital wineries themselves. So this is a road trip with some side trips! ;) All suggestions welcomed! Many thanks in advance. Hugh

Offline cgarch

Re: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2015, 03:46:35 pm »
Take a look at some of the threads three or four posts before yours. You should get some good ideas.
http://forums.adventurecycling.org/index.php?topic=12930.0

cg

Offline h.mccormack

Re: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2015, 01:20:43 pm »
Hi Craig - many thanks for the signposting: I read those with interest - nothing like someone who knows the area well. I am still in a quandry however, as I was really hoping to 'join the dots' as you put it so well with campgrouds just waiting for me to pitch up at having dawdled my way thru some beautiful countryside and wineries. I'll keep looking. I guess wild camping is not such a good idea?

I have another idea too: as I will be near Olympia and travelling to Portland potentially to catch a train to Davis CA, why not fly into Sonoma from Portland and then have the pick of the Sonoma and Napa valleys to the South with the wind behind me before hitting the coast and SF? I could then do some of your recommended route in reverse potentially.

my absolute ideal would be to stay on a winery - and wondered (possibly in a demented fashion) if wineries allow itinerant campers? Especially if said visitor is obviously an innocent Brit abroad? Anyway - if you have any further thoughts do let me know! Everything is appreciated.

Many thanks, Hugh

Offline cgarch

Re: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2015, 03:31:02 pm »
Hi Craig - many thanks for the signposting: I read those with interest - nothing like someone who knows the area well. I am still in a quandry however, as I was really hoping to 'join the dots' as you put it so well with campgrouds just waiting for me to pitch up at having dawdled my way thru some beautiful countryside and wineries. I'll keep looking. I guess wild camping is not such a good idea?

That would be correct - not a good idea. Not that it couldn't be done, just be careful.

I have another idea too: as I will be near Olympia and travelling to Portland potentially to catch a train to Davis CA, why not fly into Sonoma from Portland and then have the pick of the Sonoma and Napa valleys to the South with the wind behind me before hitting the coast and SF? I could then do some of your recommended route in reverse potentially.

my absolute ideal would be to stay on a winery - and wondered (possibly in a demented fashion) if wineries allow itinerant campers? Especially if said visitor is obviously an innocent Brit abroad? Anyway - if you have any further thoughts do let me know! Everything is appreciated.

Many thanks, Hugh

I'm afraid that itinerant camping in the glitzy wineries of Sonoma and Napa is a demented idea. Best if you can find either a county park or one of the state parks, and there are few if any that offer camping within the 'valleys'. One option may be the Alexander Valley RV Park and Campground at 2170 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg. One of these days I will put together a touring cyclist guide to this area. Got enough folks asking questions (that I keep answering) that I'm sure it would be a great resource.

Offline h.mccormack

Re: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2015, 05:24:32 pm »
Hi Craig - thanks aghain for the tips, hints and confirmation that some of my ideas might be bordering on the insane! It was a nice thought that I could do as I did so many years ago in the South of France - sleeping amongst the vines and then popping up to the main house for breakfast. Oh well.
Anyway with my feet on solid ground am still hoping for the ultimate solution to appear. A friend based in Davis CA has done some short 1 or 2 day-type trips from there to the 'valleys' - he is suggesting a loop up beside Lake Berryessa and then up and over to Chiles Pope valley and thence to Napa or Bothe-Napa to stay. I note the Silverado trail too runs close by that area so that would then lead me safely south and then I could head West to the southern end of Sonoma Valley and Petaluma. So i am currently trying to find somewhere to stay en route from Davis via Winters via Berryessa to Chiles Pope. OR there's the poss opp to fly into the North close to Sonoma and drop down to Napa and work my way West to the coast. I WILL make a decision shortly. Thanks again for you help. Cheers Hugh

Offline cgarch

Re: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2015, 05:34:11 pm »
No worries. Lake Berryesa is a good route, just watch for the fast traffic with narrow shoulder. Pope-Chiles Valley is wonderful. Bothe-Napa is a good choice for an overnight. Holler if you need anything else.

Best,

cg

Offline h.mccormack

Re: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2015, 06:07:08 pm »
hi Craig - thanks again: do you know of anywhere to stay on the shore of Lake Berryessa? There's a marina or two plus the wonderfully named Pleasure Cove at the South end, whose website appeared to have camping listed, but cant make the link work. I'd like to spend the night somewhere along that shore then up early the next day to get over to Chiles Pope after a little climb I suspect. But that's what legs and lungs are for I believe! Cheers Hugh

Offline cgarch

Re: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2015, 03:52:35 pm »
Other than Pleasure Cove, no. Might be worth a try though I suspect it is mostly boaters camping. Try giving them a call to see how amenable they are to touring cyclists. goberryessa.com

Offline h.mccormack

Re: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2015, 06:00:41 pm »
Hi Craig - thanks - I agree: I think they're one of the few that might help; i did look at their booking site and it appears they want a 2 night minimum stay however. But will call them and see what they say - distance wise they're about the right place for a single days ride. I'm also looking at Steele Canyon campground (run by the same people it looks like). None of them sound wonderful but to a greater extent I am treating this night as a means to an end i.e. to get over to Pope Chiles. I'm in contact with a winery that does B&B above Napa that DOES look good and want to get there the following night. Will make a decision after I've called them. Thanks again for your help. Cheers Hugh

Offline MaineCoonMoon

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Re: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2024, 08:45:57 pm »
Hi folks,
Quick update on the bicycle campsite at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park:
In May 2024 the cost to camp at the site was USD $6.00. There is only one site for bicycle campers and it is pretty small, with room for about 2-3 tents comfortably. There is one picnic bench and the water tap and showers are close by. This is not an isolated campsite; you will be camping next to motor vehicle camp sites. The pool (very nice) was USD $5.00 to swim and the pool closed at 5:00 pm. There are lifeguards at the pool. I think the deep end was 8 feet and the pool is long enough to get in some respectable laps. There is an outside shower at the pool. If you are really cheap, bring your soap. hah! The pool distance is a longer walk from the bicycle camp (10+ minute walk?). Consider riding your bike to the pool. The park entrance kiosk doesn't make change for showers, change is provided by the campground host.

I hope this helps.

Take care out there and happy touring!

Offline MaineCoonMoon

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Re: Cycle touring in Napa and Sonoma
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2024, 09:41:12 pm »
Hi folks,
Here is some additional info on hiker/biker camping sites for Sonoma County that didn't seem to be mentioned in this and the other thread.

Sonoma Coast Hike & Bike camping (South to North):

For Sonoma County Regional Parks, here is the link: https://parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/play/camping
For Sonoma County Regional Parks as of May 2024: "Hiker/Bicycle sites are first come, first serve and have a 3-day maximum stay."

Doran Regional Park (County park) - 1 Hiker/Bicycle Site. I haven't stayed at the H/B site, but I have car camped here a few times. This is a nice location. I think this campground, beach and harbor access are a definite plus. Note: it can get windy at this campground. If I had to pick this one or Bodega Dunes, I'd go with Doran for sure.

Bodega Dunes campground / Sonoma Coast State Park - 1 Hiker/Bicycle Site. I have stayed here on a smaller tour. The site is ok. There is one picnic bench. It's away from the car camping sites a little bit. There is a pedestrian dirt trail that can get you down to Bodega Harbor.
https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=451

"A communal site is available for on foot hikers and bikers at Bodega Dunes campground.  The cost is $5.00 per person, per night.  The site is located between sites 17 and 18.  There is a fire ring, picnic table and food locker for communal use at this hike and bike site.  This site is for the exclusive use of hikers and bikers that are not associated with any vehicle.  Tokens for the showers are available when the kiosk is staffed.  The token machine also accepts dollar bills.  Most hiker/bikers camp for one night.  Max stay is two nights and then campers must vacate the campsite."

Willow Creek Campground / Sonoma Coast State Park
https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=451
There is no official hike/bike campsite at this location that I am aware of. Still, it's relatively remote, but close to Hwy 1.
"Willow Creek Campground offers 11 first-come first-served primitive campsites. There are fire rings, picnic tables, and pit toilets available. All of the walk in campsites are within 1/4 mile from the parking lot and there is no running water. This is the only state park campground located near the Russian River. The sites are mostly shaded by willows and are relatively close to a large beach for swimming and fishing. Blue heron, egrets, osprey, and occasionally river otters can be seen by the river. This site is NOT on the reservation system and is first-come, first-served only. Please only camp in the designated campsites.  Camping outside of these designated campsites may result in a citation and ejection from the campground. You must self-register prior to occupying a campsite. There is no credit card payment capability.  Pay fees with cash or check. Willow Creek Campground is a dry campground which means there is no water available." I have never camped here, but I've dirt run the Pomo Canyon trail many times. If I was touring, I would check this place out if my days-end itinerary landed me close to this location.

Stillwater Cove Regional Park (County park) - 1 Hiker/Bicycle Site. Never camped here. Don't know what it's like.

Ocean Cove Campground - Private campground
https://www.oceancove.org/?page_id=112
This is a private campground that does not have a hiker/bike site, but it's a GOOD option. I've car camped here a few times and really liked it.
They have showers and store. The sites tend to be spread out and there are a few sites right on the ocean (can be windy).
At May 2024: $40.00 per vehicle per night, cash or $45.00 per vehicle per night. There is also trail access on the south side of the campground to Stillwater Cover Regional Park for a nice hike with ocean views.

Salt Point State Park - 1 larger Hiker/Bicycle Site. When I checked this one out a couple of months ago, this had 3-4 picnic tables and spacious tent areas spread out. This site is away from car camping and is near bathrooms. The picnic benches and wooden food lockers were a bit "aged", but acceptable if this location hits your itinerary.
https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=453

Gualala Point Regional Park (County park) - 1 Hiker/Bicycle Site. Room for 3-4 tents and two picnic tables. I have camped here and this site is really cool. You are near water and bathroom/showers. The site is sort of away from the car camping sites and right next to the Gualala River. There is wifi and and a pay phone (!) outside the visitor center on the west side of highway 1 (a 10+ minute walk and uphill from the hike and bike).
Check out all the graffiti inside the wooden food lockers; folks have left some interesting comments from some BIG tours over the years.

Other camping options that are inland from the Sonoma coast:

If you are looking for camping around Petaluma, California. This appears to be the only option (besides Hipcamp.com options).
Petaluma KOA
https://koa.com/campgrounds/san-francisco/
The Petaluma KOA does not have a dedicated hike/bike site; only conventional tent sites. When I checked the pricing in May 2024 it was $80 a night. Yowser!
Still, if you are coming up from Marin County following highway 101 this may be your only camping option.

Spring Lake Regional Park
Spring Lake is located in the City of Santa Rosa. If your tour takes you through Santa Rosa, California and you need a place to camp in the city proper, this is really your only legal option. There is no hiker/biker site, so you will have to pay the full vehicle price for camping. This campground gets pretty popular in the summer with reservations highly recommended.
https://parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/visit/find-a-park/spring-lake-regional-park

Honorable mention for Marin County:
If you are near Tomales and are looking for a really cool place to camp, check out:
Estero San Antonio Wonderland
https://www.hipcamp.com/en-US/land/california-estero-san-antonio-wonderland-45x5hr5l
I have stayed here in mid-spring and it's a great place to camp. There is no official hiker/biker campsite. In the summer and early fall, the place might get a bit hot and the hills are dry.  At May 2024 it was $65 per night. Not cheap, but it's a unique and rural camping area. I would camp there again. Don't believe me? Read the reviews. :)

Hope this helps. And hey, let's be careful out there.