Bicycle Riding in Northern California

North Centeral California, San Francisco to Lake Tahoe Last Update July 2005


This swatch of California is where I have done most of my cycling.  I ride mostly solo although I do enjoy very much riding with buddies.

 Although I have ridden for decades in 2002 I enjoyed my first light touring with an overnight trip from the San Francisco Bay Area to South Lake Tahoe .  I also participated in the Death Ride my first organized ride.  I did another century, a solo ride from Palo Alto to Modesto over Mount Hamilton and through the Almaden Valley .

I am compiling these notes in order to share them with other bicycle riders.  I would be happy to hear suggestions and answer questions about these routes and rides.  Please email me.  

Other ride links
Palo Alto Bicycles
San Francisco Regional Routes
Bikely - Bicycle Routes

These are all rides/roads I have done/used in 2001/2002.  Keep in mind roads and traffic conditions change.  Verify the information here particularly notes on road conditions, traffic hazards, or suitability of the listed routes for bicycle travel. BIKE CAREFULLY AND USE THIS INFORMATION AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Preposed Ride to Arnold (When??! In the Fall, after the heat and before the wet/snow starts to fall, September to middle October)
I would like to organize a ride to Arnold California before winter makes the days too short and the chance of rain too great.  This end of the season trip will start somewhere in the east bay (as east as Livermore, but perhaps north of Mt. Diablo) and go through the Almaden Valley, Paterson then east, northeast until we stop at a cheap motel before the foothills of the Sierra's at San Andreas.  The second day would be quite small two lane and one lane road climbing to 4250' at Arnold. Total distance, well under 200 miles.   Please let me know if you are interested .

Commute from Palo Alto to North San Jose
This commute is so nice that it deserves its own page!
Bikely Route, Details

September 23-24, 2006
Big Sur Ride  (organization),  Bikely Route
Pictures and short report.

July 25, 2005
It seems that I have been scouting this route out for years.  I think that by now I know every bike able mile of road between Arnold and Palo Alto and I finally did the ride from Arnold to Palo Alto.
Start Time 04:05
End Time 17:28
Total Time: 13 hours 23 minutes
Pedaling Time: 11 hours 13 min
Distance:  174 Miles
Avg Speed: 15.47 mph
Trip Report/Route Information

The Death Ride, July 2002

This ride covers much of the sparsely populated Alpine County just south of Lake Tahoe.  The entire ride is 129 miles (16000 accumulated ft. climb) and 5 mountain passes.  I was turned back for missing the time cut off at Woodfords at the century (12000 accumulated ft) mark.  It was a relatively nice day for the ride this year. About half of the 2600 riders completed the full ride.
official web site.
Almaden Valley, June 2002

I did this solo ride over Mount Hamilton in preparation for the Death Ride.  This road up to the Lick Observatory is a popular bicycle climb.  It has a poor western descent due to sharp turns and road debris.  The eastern descent is very steep and far more remote.  Its worth it, but watch out for the cattle guards.  The Almaden Valley was the highlight of an all day trip from Palo Alto to Modesto.  The total 100+ miles.

San Francisco to South Lake Tahoe

This back to back century was a great ride I did with my friend Brian Francois.  The first day we traveled from Martinez to Stockton over Marsh Creek Road and Highway 4 and Stockton to Jackson on highway 88.  The next day we ascended Kit Carson Pass, then Luther to the Sharrow's cabin on Pioneer Trail.  Thank you Greg for the welcome party.

The difficult parts of this trip were Highway 4 truck traffic between Brentwood and Stockton.  Late afternoon heat on the climb toward Jackson. The midday sun on the climb of highway 88.  Fortunately the road is most difficult at the beginning of the mountain when it was still early  and relatively cool.

San Francisco Bay Area

Santa Clara County (South Bay)
Bay Trail Maps (some are for cycling, others atb or hiking).

Skyline Blvd (Hwy35)

Skyline runs from Highway 92 in the North to Highway 17 in the South along the largest ridge between the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean on the southern and largest bay peninsula.  From this road you can frequently get great views of the bay and an occasional view of the ocean.  Typical rides over this ridge from the bay to ocean an back are 60+ miles with 5000'+ climb.  The temperature on Skyline can be considerably cooler than the bay valley, particularly on warm days or as you head west toward the ocean.  Winds along the coast can be considerable, frequently when it is calm and warm or hot in the bay and central valley.  The direction of the winds on the coast can vary though easterly is a good bet in the afternoon and evening.

Roads up and over Skyline


road information for west side
road information for east side
highway 92
Half Moon Bay
Have not tried this. Not sure this is legal.  Perhaps descent is safe.
Descent ok, although a lot of traffic
Canàda Road
highway 92

ends at Skyline
Good, 2 lane, light traffic
Kings Mountain Road
Tunitas Creek Road

Excellent ascent, remote, heavy canopy and car free. Poor descent due to road conditions.
ends at Skyline

Woodside Road.  Hwy 84
San Gregorio
Can have high traffic.  Good descent.  Fair ascent.
Descent ok.  Poor ascent with thin shoulders and traffic.
Woodside Redwood City
Woodside Road. Hwy 84
Old La Honda Rd.
Ends at Hwy 84

best ascent, quiet 1 lane, steep.  Posted: Bicycle descent not recommended.
Portolla Valley, Sand Hill Road / Alpine?
Old La Honda Rd.
Alpine Road
La Honda, Hwy 84, Pescadero Quiet Road. Good conditions
fair road, weekend traffic
Palo Alto, Stanford
Page Mill Road
Hwy 9
Big Basin, Felton, Santa Cruz
have not biked this
good descent, never tried the ascent due to traffic, though many do.
Saratoga, Cupertino via Redwood Gulch Road and Steven's Canyon
Hwy 9