Have bike and will travel? Here are a few of the Sonoma County roads and trails awaiting your skinny or knobby tires:(This is part of a Sonoma Magazine feature detailing things to do this summer. For more ideas on outdoor fun, be sure to check out 34 Reasons To Get Off Your Duff in Sonoma Magazine)
Chileno Valley, Petaluma
Just west of Petaluma is a gloriously uncrowded loop through bucolic scenery with few big hills. Start in Petaluma, pedal west on Western Avenue to Chileno Valley Road, then head back on Spring Hill Road. It’s 26.2 miles, the same distance as a runner’s marathon, and a perfect two-hour ride for intermediate cyclists. To extend it, head out 5 miles more to Tomales, refuel at the Tomales Bakery, then return to Petaluma.
Tomales Bakery, 27000 Highway 1, Tomales, 707-878-2429
Coleman Valley Road, Occidental
For those whose legs are up to the challenge, conquer the steep hills of Coleman Valley. It’s a tough climb, but the ocean views make it worthwhile. Start in Freestone with biscotti or scones at Wild Flour Bread bakery, then ride north some 3.5 miles to Occidental. Turn left to go up Coleman Valley, maintaining control on the descent to coastal Highway 1 because it’s easy to really fly down the steep hills. Follow Highway 1 south to Freestone Valley Ford Road and enjoy the homestretch back to Freestone. Allow at least three hours for this exhilarating 27.5-mile ride.
Wild Flour Bread, 140 Bohemian Highway, Freestone, 707-874-2938, wildflourbread.com
From Healdsburg, this classic Wine Country route wends its way north along scenic Dry Creek Road. Veer right on Canyon Road and head through Geyserville via Highway 128; stop for refreshments and a sandwich at Jimtown Store. Return to Healdsburg via Alexander Valley Road, turning left onto Healdsburg Avenue, the route back into town. After the ride, cool off with a pint at Bear Republic Brewing Co. Approximately 30 miles, this route takes two to three hours, depending on how often one stops to admire the scenery and take photos.
Jimtown Store, 6706 Highway 128, Healdsburg, 707-433-1212, jimtown.com
Bear Republic Brewing Co., 345 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-2337, bearrepublic.com
Annadel State Park, Santa Rosa
With bumpy single-track, wide-open fire roads and fern-shrouded paths, Annadel is mountain-bike heaven. That’s no secret. What many people don’t know is that in recent years, a network of under-the-radar trails has been developed by riders. One Annadel mountain bike insider says that although these trails “aren’t sanctioned by the authorities, they’re more technical, faster, more difficult and … more fun.”
The sanctioned trails are fantastic, too. A 25.7-mile loop around the park that includes the North and South Burma trails takes about three hours and starts with a difficult climb up the Cobblestone Trail. From the top of Cobblestone, connect with the Rough Trail and follow it to Lake Ilsanjo, where the trail opens up to a fire road. Continue to the Ridge Trail and prepare to ford a creek that isn’t too deep during summer but can be more than knee-high after a winter rain. There are some scintillating downhill runs on the way back to the parking lot.
Annadel State Park, 6201 Channel Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-539-3911, parks.ca.gov/?page_id=480
Lake Sonoma, Geyserville
A 45-minute drive north from Santa Rosa, Lake Sonoma is surrounded by mountain bike trails (Bike Monkey magazine hosts a series of races there, staged at Liberty Glen Campground, March through June.) The 45-plus miles of trails are steep and technical, yet offer frequent views of vineyards and the lake. It’s a thrill a moment, with tricky terrain winding through redwood groves and shady oak stands, and with the possible sighting of wild pigs, deer, rabbits and falcons.
After a ride, visit the state fish hatchery behind the visitor center, where a spawning ground for salmon and steelhead has been established to preserve these species.
Lake Sonoma Visitor Center, 3333 Skaggs Springs Road, Geyserville, 707-433-9483, www.spn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/LakeSonoma.aspx
For all wheels
In Glen Ellen, there’s a water stop for cyclists at the Mayacamas Volunteer Fire Department station at the intersection of Trinity and Cavedale roads.
Find a great ride in the book, “75 Classic Rides Northern California,” by Sebastopol’s Phil Oetinger.
Cyber tip: mapmyride.com is an excellent tool for mapping bike rides and getting information on climbs and distances.