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Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

Phoenix
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Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

This fall my husband and I are driving up the coast to spend about 4 or 5 days. We are driving from Phoenix and bringing bikes, hoping to stay in quaint and peaceful small towns with access to hiking and cycling (road bikes, not mountain bikes). I'm hoping I can get some recommendations for cute towns to stay in.

We want to stay one night somewhere north of LA to break up the drive and then two (or more) nights someplace that would make a good basecamp for hiking and relaxing. We're thinking Monterey area or maybe even as far as the Santa Cruz mountains or even just north of SF. We mostly want to explore forests/redwoods and relax with some outdoor adventures but don't want to overdo it with the driving. We do want to see Big Sur but staying in a beach town isn't as important to us – we like trees so more inland would be fine too. We are also considering stopping at Sequoia National Park or in that region on the way back home.

I would greatly appreciate some recommendations. I've been looking at the forums but they seem more geared toward beach towns than anything else. Thanks!!

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Santa Cruz...
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1. Re: Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

I am quite partial to Santa Cruz because I live here but if you want biking and hiking I really can't think of a better town along the coast. You can do both on one outing or many combinations of the two. Wilder Ranch, Pogonip, Big Basin, Henry Cowell, Nisene Marks, and Delaveaga Park just to name a few. Each of these has either mountain biking, hiking or both. Redwoods, ocean views, single track, fire roads, water falls (we need some rain), wild life, elevation... not to toot our own horn!!

Enjoy!!!

Phoenix
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2. Re: Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

Awesome, thanks for the feedback. Santa Cruz did sound like a good homebase from the research I have done and I think you've helped me make up my mind! Wilder Ranch sounds like it has a nice hike and the photos of Pogonip on Yelp are beautiful. I had read about Big Basin and Henry Cowell. Nisene Marks also has beautiful pictures on Yelp. These are such good recommendations, thank you for taking the time. I am getting pretty excited about the trip!

Would it make sense to stay somewhere North of the city or on the outskirts? Any recommendations? It would be nice to be able to walk or bike to a bar but also to be a little more secluded or low key.

Avila Beach...
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3. Re: Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

There are so many places that would work, but personally I'm partial to Big Sur. It is not a beach town. It only has ocean access at a couple of points and is not swimmable for the most part (and certainly not in the fall). Most of the views of ocean are from cliffs and mountains high above. It's full of hiking options, redwoods and river views, but I don't know how well it would work for cycling. I have seen cyclists along some of the rural roads that are less accessible to cars. It is however one of the most peaceful rural places I know and the views are spectacular.

Santa Cruz...
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4. Re: Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

As for places to stay in Santa Cruz I would post specific questions to the Santa Cruz forum since there are some TA people that are more in tune with that aspect that follow the Santa Cruz forum. As it relates to hiking and cycling if you stay more toward downtown or Westside (north) then you are closer to Wilder and Pogonip for hiking and biking. Those are probably the two best spots that are not too much driving. I am not sure how into/advanced you are with biking but there are some great routes that take you up through ucsc into wilder and back down along the coast. Hiking into Wilder is great also and there is also a bluff trail if you prefer checking out the sea life and birds.

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5. Re: Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

If you are fairly serious roadies, look up the Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge, their routes cover the popular climbs in the area.

I'm personally more familiar some riding a bit further north. Tunitas Creek is my personal favorite; a small single-lane road threading up through the redwoods for about 2000 feet of climbing; very low traffic and shaded.

A nice casual ride would also be in the Pescadero area, from either the town of Pescadero or Pescadero Beach, up to Memorial Park, a nice small and generally uncrowded park in the redwoods. You can ride into the park, and even do a little hiking in there. Whenever I go through Pescadero I make sure and get a sandwich from Arcangeli on their garlic herb bread.

Santa Cruz...
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6. Re: Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

Yes- it would be good to clarify if you are talking about road rides or mountain biking? I guess I had assumed mountain biking which is why I was saying Wilder. There is plenty of road riding here but if that is your focus you may want to head further north and check out the spots JHLL mentions.

Phoenix
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7. Re: Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

Thanks! Yes, road bikes, not mountain bikes. Generally we were looking for paved trails or else small roads with less traffic. I do like the idea of being somewhere more rural or at least just somewhere green and quiet. Tunitas Creek sounds great! I'm going to look into Pescadero too. That sounds like a good plan, cycling, hiking and eating!

Thanks for all the feedback!!

Grover Beach...
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8. Re: Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

You won't find much green in California in the fall months (Hence, why we're called the Golden State).

You might want to also look at Cambria as a place for road biking. Santa Rosa Creek Road is popular with local cyclists and Cambria has lots of trees (Pines).

Edited: 19 October 2013, 23:59
Bay Area, CA
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9. Re: Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

Just to be clear, Tunitas Creek is definitely a climb, not a casual ride. The bottom and the top are fairly moderate, but the middle section gets steep, with 8-10%+ grades for a couple of miles. But it's so nice that it almost makes you forget how hard you are working. The pavement is also pretty choppy so it would be a bone-rattling descent.

Another road worth mentioning is Stage Rd, which runs sort of parallel to Hwy 1 between Pescadero and Tunitas Creek, and is a lot quieter than Hwy 1. There are basically 3 hills on Stage between Pescadero and where it intersects Hwy 1. I haven't been to that side in a little while but I heard it is being re-paved right now, so parts are a bit gravely, but still passable on road bikes.

Much of this is described here:

chainreaction.com/pescadero_tunitasloop.htm

Phoenix
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10. Re: Roadtrip this fall Central coast, hiking and cycling

Thanks for the feedback! I'll check out these routes. I'm definitely up for some more strenuous routes but I think my husband will be looking for something more leisurely. He gets worried with a lot of car traffic. Sounds like we can find something in the middle with some more research and these routes as a starting point. Thanks!!