San Mateo County – La Honda, San Gregorio, Pescadero, Loma Mar Cycling

This ride was a few months ago (April 11, to be exact), but I wanted to get an entry in while a few of the details still existed in memory!

For my grandmother’s birthday this year, my mom and I traveled to the Bay Area to celebrate this occasion and reconnect a bit with family. It was a very nice visit that even included a trip up to Santa Rosa to visit Russian River Brewing Co (sweet place and incredible beers). And, possibly even more important than awesome beer, this trip included some cycling. My uncle lives in La Honda and is very much into cycling as well (he also came down and did the Solvang Century with my mom and me). La Honda is west of San Jose and less than 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The city itself, while quite small, is somewhat famous for having been the residence of Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Additionally, Neil Young currently lives in the general area and the La Honda Winery has started producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese wines (have no idea if they are any good!). La Honda is a very rural, but very scenic town. Basically, an old-school residential area with only a couple of commercial buildings (Apple Jack’s Inn, most notably…and the reviews seem quite good on the place). So, with that bit on La Honda, the ride!

Starting from La Honda, we headed west on 84/La Honda Rd. From La Honda, this is basically a shallow grade descent. The shoulder varied from good to minimal, but with minimal traffic (at least when we were riding) it was not a problem. This section was quite scenic with tons of green growth on both sides and beautiful houses tucked into the hillside and along the meandering creek. And slightly chilly too…but not quite chilly enough to put on the arm warmers (well, for me at least). Anyway, 8 miles in and we hit the tiny town of San Gregorio (population is an impressive 287 people). Notably, the intersection of 84 and Stage Road in San Gregorio plays host to the San Gregorio General Store. This place is awesome. All at once, it is a general store, bar, live music venue and historic site (operating since 1889!). And they get so many cyclists they even have a sign asking cyclists to remove their shoes before entering. How many places have you seen a sign like that?

So, after a brief stop at the store, we head south on Stage Road, a wonderfully scenic road. A slight descent and then we finally start climbing. Sweet. The climbs along this road are nothing epic, but fun and incredibly scenic:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Clouds threatened the entire time..

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Luckily, we didn’t get rained on! A bit farther on, and the top of the ascent of the second hill and my mom is still smiling:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

I think she is enjoying the ride! Such green countryside:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Just a few hundred feet later and we are descending into an incredibly scenic, lush valley:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Finishing that descent, we wind around a bend and encounter a rather unique residence:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

A couple more miles and we are in Pescadero. Small (like all the towns along this ride), scenic and definitely worth visiting. The downtown part of Pescadero along Stage Road has a couple of great stores. One is basically a general store that has some incredible fresh-baked breads. The other is part general store and part restaurant with some very welcome coffee and, apparently, excellent stone oven pizzas. That, and a beautiful, expansive garden/outdoor eating area. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of these places..but I am sure it would not be too difficult to figure out given the small size of the town! Great town to visit and cycle through! Heading back out, we head through the residential area of Pescadero..quite scenic (and the clouds were finally starting to lessen!):

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Slightly farther and the cyclists gather for a short break for pictures and whatnot:

From 2009-04-20 – Castro Valley, La Honda Cycling, Russian River Brewing, Santa Barbara, SoCal Sunset, Ja

Finally, we push on along Pescadero Creek Road and start some climbing. Beginning at 100 ft elevation or so, we climb up along Pescadero Creek at a very slight grade, pass through Loma Mar before starting some decent climbing through San Mateo County Memorial Park. This climbing continues, slightly stronger, after the park, before finally peaking at almost 1100 ft where we hit Sam McDonald County Park. From here, the descent is awesome! The turns are never too tight, allowing for some high speeds, and the road surface is excellent. Great descent down to San Gregorio Creek while being shrouded by redwoods. Awesome!

To finish, we head back to La Honda via a great one-lane back-road (Redwood Dr). After passing by Reflection Lake (quite scenic!) I decide to throw in a touch more climbing to round out the ride. This last bit is short, gets some semi-steep climbing in and gives you a nice overview of the residences in La Honda. If you enjoy a few hundred extra feet of punishment, throw this in. If not, after the lake, go left instead of right!

The route:

While this route doesn’t have the epic climbing of some of my previous routes, it is a great ride with some nice climbs. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend it!

Thank you Bobby for a perfect tour of the area! I can’t wait to cycle in the area again!

The Discussion

see what everyone is saying

  • Bob White June 17th, 2009 at 3:44 pm #1

    Ryan is right, it is a great ride. I know, since I’m Uncle Bobby and I get to ride it all the time. This loop is a great intro to the area. Ryan, next time you come up, plan a bit more time and I’ll give you some more challenging hills (Tunitas Creek, Old La Honda Road, Page Mill road) and/or more distance.


  • Carmen June 25th, 2009 at 9:57 am #2

    the photos and text really captures the cycling nirvana aspect of that area. Can’t wait to return, and get in some real climbing challenges!

  • Dennis February 4th, 2011 at 6:47 pm #3

    Great report. We are doing a lot of this as a training ride for Team In Training tomorrow. Sounds like it should be fun!

  • rallison February 5th, 2011 at 9:19 pm #4

    Thanks! That whole area is great to ride in – beautiful rolling countryside, low traffic, fun, winding roads…you get the idea. Hope you enjoyed your ride today!


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