Author Topic: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite  (Read 394 times)

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Offline Mue_Mi_

Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« on: May 28, 2019, 03:38:59 pm »
Hey Guys. I am cycling the Pacific Coast later this year and looking for a route from San Rafael to Oakhurst avoiding San Francisco and/or bigger traffic. The attached pic shows a very rough route i planned without any further knowledge (i am from Germany). Road or light gravel is my prefered surface.

My Question is if this route (especially) between Stockton and Modesto is alright or if i should stick to side roads. Another option could be crossing Golden Gate Bridge and cycling via Hercules/Martinez/Pittsburg/etc. to Manteca.

Every suggestion is welcome. Thank you!
Mike

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2019, 04:33:14 pm »
Mike,  I can't give you advice on the whole of the route but I can on one section.  About 15 years ago I lived in Fairfield for one year and my son lived in Rio Vista so I traveled hwy 12 regularly.  We thought it a scary road and I would not advise riding on that Hwy 12 section - dangerous for cars let alone a bicycle.  I haven't been on that road in at least 10 years so perhaps there has been road improvments. ???

Hwy 12 from Napa to Fairfield is probably doable. Although I seem to remember some back roads that we rode on once between Fairfield and Napa that were quieter.

Hwy 12 from Rio Vista to Lodi has wide shoulders and should be ok.

If you cross the Golden Gate Bridge you will end up in The City but you can't get from SF to Hercules/Martinez/Pittsburg. The bay bridge to Oakland does not have a bike lane.  If you go from San Rafael to Vallejo (I'm not sure the safest route to do this) the bridge between Benecia and Martinez does have its own bike lane and perhaps from there you could carry on to Pittsburg.  You will need a bay area cyclist to advise.
Keith
« Last Edit: May 29, 2019, 12:42:23 am by Nyimbo »

Offline Krampus Snail

Re: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2019, 03:10:10 pm »
I live in this area. Your selected route is not one that I would pick. Let's take a look at the geography of the area you're planning on riding.

San Rafael is near the coast, with little mountains to the west and smaller mountains to the east. Once you get over them as you head east, you then have to cross a big big flat area, the Central Valley, to get to the foothills of the Sierra. The Central Valley is hot, flat, windy and dull. The average high in July is 35 degrees C and it can get a lot hotter.  It's not a fun place to ride in the summer, and your goal should be to minimize your time in it.

Your proposal has you riding right down the Central Valley from Stockton to Modesto. This just prolongs your time in an area you'd rather escape as soon as possible.

The Sacramento River and the American River come from the Sierra, meet in Sacramento, cross the rest of the Central Valley and end up in the San Francisco Bay. I advise as much as possible following the rivers to the Sierra Foothills (say, to Folsom) and then riding along the foothills to Oakhurst. That will be hillier, but it will be so much better.

So I suggest riding to Sacramento, either via Petaluma and then along the Highway 80 corridor, or ride to San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge and take a ferry to Vallejo, or ride to San Francisco over the GG Bridge and take a ferry to Jack London Square in Oakland, ride through Walnut Creek and Rio Vista. (Check Google Maps.)

From Sacramento, take the American River bike trail to Folsom, then head up to Placerville. Then head south on Highway 49. I don't love Highway 49, but it's a lot better than riding for days in the Central Valley.

Offline Mue_Mi_

Re: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2019, 06:44:50 am »
@Nyimbo / @Krampus Snail THANKS a lot for replying and all the information!!!

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 02:12:53 am »
I like KS suggestions.  (By the way I forgot about the ferries.  Even tho you can't get over all the bridges by bicycle, you can find some good options by ferry.  Don't know why I forgot because whenever I take a day ride in the City every couple years I park in Vallejo and take the Ferry to SF.)

Back to the route question, I like KS suggestions except for the hwy 49 part at the end.  I live and drive on hwy 49, and I don't cycle ride it unless I have to.  It has a decent shoulder but the traffic is heavy and it moves fast.  Most of the local cyclist do the same, only when they have no other option.

But riding from SF up to Folsom is a great ride either along frontage and back roads along the I80 corridor or up the Sacramento River on the east side of the river.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 02:14:49 am by Nyimbo »

Offline Krampus Snail

Re: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2019, 06:56:32 pm »
Well, I haven't checked this in a long time, but Nyimbo, what would you recommend instead of Highway 49? I've ridden it and didn't like it, but I didn't know about alternatives.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2019, 10:59:47 pm »
KS, Well since you asked, I’ll admit that is a hard question.  I know hwy 49 well from Jackson north until its end, but from Jackson south I’ve only driven it perhaps 3-4 times in my life and all before I started cycling 15 years ago.  So, I’ll recant my advice and hopefully it is a less trafficked area on the southern half.  I just don’t know.  I do know that all of the old gold mining and tourist towns are along hwy 49 so it would be a shame to be a bicycle tourist and miss all of them.  If you ride the back roads along the reservoirs you are on some pretty hilly roads around the foothills and adding extra miles. 


I have ridden the back road from Folsom to Plymouth “Latrobe Road”. It was fine but from there south I have no more expertise.


Cheers, Keith


Offline Bclayden

Re: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2019, 08:45:37 am »
I have done this route.  Well not exactly as you describe but I’ve covered all of the route at one time or another.  My route will probably get shot down by people on this forum but I’ve ridden these roads several times and in both directions. As has been said there is no direct or easy way to do it but this route Has worked well for me.

Head south from San Rafael, cross Golden Gate Bridge to SF.  There are plenty of bike paths/lanes to get you to SF and down the Peninsula. The SF Bay Shore has a somewhat continuous bike route. Get yourself a good map and you can piece it together. Cross the Bay on Route 84 bridge to Fremont. Head SE to Alum Rock then take Highway 120 over Mt Hamilton to Patterson (a very remote road with a healthy 4000’ climb but not steep...no services for 50+ miles), cross the Central Valley to Turlock, then wig-wag through Le Grand, Merced, Raymond, Ahwanhee, Oakhurst. 

This route crosses the core of Big Bad Central Valley quite quickly in only 16 miles and you can do it on farm roads that aren’t too busy. Once past Turlock it’s mostly back roads until Ahwanhee where you have a short stretch on Route 49 to Oakhurst. 

Offline Krampus Snail

Re: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2019, 05:35:34 pm »
Bclayden's route sounds good to me. But the rider would have to be, as Bclayden says, VERY prepared for the climb over Mount Hamilton and through the San Antonio Valley. The route over Mount Hamilton is beautiful but once you start climbing at Alum Rock Park, there are exactly three places for services: water and nothing else at Grant Ranch Park, partway up Mount Hamilton; water and maybe a food vending machine at the top; food at the Junction Cafe, 65 miles and 5400 feet of elevation gain later.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2019, 07:28:31 pm »
The Amgen Tour of California often rides over
Mt Hamilton so it must be good! 😄😄😄

Offline Krampus Snail

Re: Bike route San Rafael to Oakhurst / Yosemite
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2019, 07:50:27 pm »
Local cyclists love Mount Hamilton as well. It can be hot in August, though, because it's exposed all the way up.