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  1. #1
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    Best Route from Santa Cruz to Palo Alto?

    Hi all,

    I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding the best way to ride from Santa Cruz to Palo Alto. Would it be reasonable to ride up highway 9 to Skyline then descend Page Mill? How heavy is the traffic typically on highway 9 early on a Sunday morning? Are there any other routes that might be better suited for this?

    Thanks for your help.

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    Senior Member BigSean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpm1665 View Post
    Hi all,

    I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding the best way to ride from Santa Cruz to Palo Alto. Would it be reasonable to ride up highway 9 to Skyline then descend Page Mill? How heavy is the traffic typically on highway 9 early on a Sunday morning? Are there any other routes that might be better suited for this?

    Thanks for your help.
    Yep, nothing wrong with that route.

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    Hwy 9 is the shortest and fastest route, but you will have to deal with frequent traffic for a long time. Another option is to take one of the smaller roads like Zayante or Mountain Charlie up to Summit Rd, then continue to Skyline. That will give you much less traffic, but some steeper grades and a few more miles.

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    Thanks for your replies.

    I have a few more questions:

    1) Is the traffic on Hwy 9 unbearable even early on Sunday mornings?

    2) If you did Zayante, would you start on Graham Hill or Hwy 9?

    3) How is the riding on Empire Grade / Jamison Creek / Big Basin Way? I know that this route is a bit longer and involves quite a bit of extra climbing.

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
    1 MILE TO TOP qpliu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpm1665 View Post
    Thanks for your replies.

    I have a few more questions:

    1) Is the traffic on Hwy 9 unbearable even early on Sunday mornings?

    2) If you did Zayante, would you start on Graham Hill or Hwy 9?

    3) How is the riding on Empire Grade / Jamison Creek / Big Basin Way? I know that this route is a bit longer and involves quite a bit of extra climbing.

    Thanks again!
    1. I've never found the traffic on Hwy 9 to be too bad on weekends. It's only heavy from Felton to Boulder Creek. Before Felton, it's pretty light, and after Boulder Creek, it's very light. You could bypass a small part of it by taking Glen Arbor.

    2. Hwy 9 up to Felton doesn't have too much traffic and is nicer than Graham Hill. Graham Hill also tends to have more traffic, and, the last time I rode that way, the pavement on the descent after Lockewood was scored.

    3. I've done that once (going the long way on Hwy 236 through the park HQ). I wouldn't do it again, because of the Jamison Creek descent. For the reverse direction, it's my preferred route, since it avoids the Boulder Creek-Felton traffic.

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    Hwy 9 traffic is bearable, just not much fun. The lower part is narrower with a few iffy railroad crossings, so I would especially avoid that if possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by qpliu View Post
    3. I've done that once (going the long way on Hwy 236 through the park HQ). I wouldn't do it again, because of the Jamison Creek descent. For the reverse direction, it's my preferred route, since it avoids the Boulder Creek-Felton traffic.
    How is 236 traffic on the weekends? Also, are there any places to stop along this route for food/water?

    Does anyone know when the gravel will be cleared from Page Mill?

    Thanks again!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpm1665 View Post
    How is 236 traffic on the weekends? Also, are there any places to stop along this route for food/water?

    Does anyone know when the gravel will be cleared from Page Mill?

    Thanks again!
    There's not much traffic on 236, but it is a very narrow road with lots of tree cover and blind corners. If you do ride there, wear bright colors and use tail and head lights. There is food and water at the Big Basin park headquarters.

    I climbed Page Mill on Friday and the gravel wasn't too bad. If you're going down, the only place you really need to be careful is that short drop right after Montebello OSP.

  9. #9
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti SteveE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    There is food and water at the Big Basin park headquarters.
    There is also water by the picnic table on Skyline at the CDF station just north of Saratoga Gap.
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ...'holy *****...what a ride!'"

  10. #10
    1 MILE TO TOP qpliu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpm1665 View Post
    How is 236 traffic on the weekends? Also, are there any places to stop along this route for food/water?

    Does anyone know when the gravel will be cleared from Page Mill?

    Thanks again!
    Alternatively, you could continue down Hwy 9, then take Pierce, Mt Eden, Stevens Canyon and Foothill. That adds about 4 miles and a bunch of traffic lights, but the descent is smoother.

    In case you didn't already know, there are often motorcycles racing up and down Hwy 9 and along Skyline on the weekends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by qpliu View Post
    In case you didn't already know, there are often motorcycles racing up and down Hwy 9 and along Skyline on the weekends.
    I've done a fair amount of riding on Skyline after doing the Page Mill / OLH / King's Mountain climbs. Would it be fair to say that the level of traffic on 9 is roughly the same as Skyline on a weekend?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpm1665 View Post
    I've done a fair amount of riding on Skyline after doing the Page Mill / OLH / King's Mountain climbs. Would it be fair to say that the level of traffic on 9 is roughly the same as Skyline on a weekend?
    The lower part of Hwy 9 has more traffic because of the towns in that area. The upper part of Hwy 9 has about the same amount of traffic as Skyline between Hwy 9 and Kings Mtn.

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    opposite direction

    I'll be going the opposite direction, to Santa Cruz. I've driven on 236 into Big Basin and it's way too narrow for my riding tastes. How about taking 9 as far as Boulder Creek and taking Big Basin back to Jamison Creek, and then down Empire Grade? Is that as narrow? Much nicer than the more direct route on 9? I'll be going Friday late morning so I wouldn't expect too much traffic...

    Also, has anyone taken the VTA #970 bus back? How is that? Any issues taking your bike on it?

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