Elk Grove (Sacramento) to Watsonville
I need help plotting a route from Sacramento, CA to Watsonville, CA (near Santa Cruz). I'm considering a couple of routes but am having difficulty finding suitable roads the entire distance.
1. Head east from Sacramento to the coast and then down Highway 1 to Watsonville. How do I get from Napa to the coast on a reasonably safe road?
2. Head south on Highway 160 on the Sacramento River to Contra Costa County. How do I get past this area to San Jose and over the Santa Cruz mountains?
The Adventure Cycling Association (ACA)has a route from Sacramento to Vallejo, where you can take a ferry to San Francisco and from there you can take Highway 1 down to Watsonville, which is on a different ACA route. Though, you have to get off Highway 1 in Santa Cruz and take local roads to get to Watsonville.
Sacramento to Vallejo is on the last Western Express map section and from San Francisco to Watsonville is on one of the Pacific Coast maps. The map for the route from Sacramento to Vallejo would be useful but you can get a local map for the Santa Cruz to Watsonville segment. To get to Santa Cruz, take Highway 1 all the way south. You do need to know how to get from the Ferry Bldg in SF to Highway 1 and you have to negotiate Devil's slide, a very dangerous section of road between Pacifica and Montera.
In 2006, I rode from SF to Carson City and back.
Here is my trip journal. Day 1 and 9 deal with the first half of the route you are asking about.
I hope this helps,
crotchety young dude
When you get into Santa Cruz, you're gonna want to get on Soquel Ave. and take it to where it turns into Soquel Drive. Take Soquel Dr. all the way out, it eventually turns into Freedowm Blvd. Lean right onto Freedom, and you'll end up in Watsonville.
You can get to San Jose from Contra Costa, and the Santa Cruz Mountains are honeycombed with routes that will get you there, but I'd enthusiastically endorse getting to Vallejo, catching a ferry, and taking Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. Pretty reliable tailwind and very scenic. I'd opt off of Soquel Ave., however. It's routinely ranked by local cyclists as one of the worst streets for riders in the county. The Pacific Coast Bike Route is pretty well marked, taking you closer to the coast, through Capitola, minimally along Soquel, then over nearer the coast again. In the right season, the scent from the strawberry fields along the route is intoxicating.
crotchety young dude
You could actually take the frontage road (Soquel Ave., just lean right where it splits) and wander along the coast in Capitola/Soquel/Aptos. Once you get into Aptos, you really oughta get on Soquel Dr.
I grew up in Santa Cruz, and Soquel sucks but it's no where near as bad as Mission. I haven't had any issues with Soquel, plus there are brand new bike lanes on part of it.
I can help with this part. You'll need to follow along on a local map, I don't have complete details, but i did this route the other direction a few years ago, and it's OK. I overnighted in Menlo Park (friend's house) and ended at home in Walnut Creek.
Originally Posted by chineezguy
From Concord/Walnut Creek, take Diablo blvd (parallels hwy 680) to hwy 580, take the frontage road on the s. side of 580 about 5 miles, turn left (on ??), to get on Palomares road. Make a substantial but quiet and beautiful climb over, to the end of Palomares, turn right & descend Niles Canyon. Follow signs thru town to Hwy 84/Dumbarton bridge. the D. bridge has a separate bike lane that is entirely safe, and is the only bay area bridge that allows bikes. From there, get lost in Palo Alto, follow city streets to Saratoga (I think the roads are Sunnyvale-saratoga road, but you'll need a map. Lots of options here.)
From Saratoga, you can go around the Lexington Reservoir on Alma Bridge Road, and take the Old San JOse Highway over the SC mountains, then left on SUmmit Rd, then right on San Jose/Soquel Road, which dumps you out in downtown soquel. There's a map in one of my posts in this thread:
There is an excellent bike map of the bay area, by Krebs maps, which you might find helpful.
Thanks all for your help. I think the ferry from Vallejo sounds good. I won't be doing this trip until next year. I want to cycle to my 40th high school reunion.
As a suggestion, get the "South San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay Areas Bicycle Touring Map" and other such maps from Krebs Cycle Products, Aptos, CA. These will show bicycle-friendly routes that are inland alternaitives to the obvious "ACA end of the Western Express to SF down the Pacific Coast Highway to Watsonville".
One possibility is to make your way to Concord, then follow the Iron Horse Trail through Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Dublin and Pleasanton. Go Foothill Blvd from Pleasanton to Sunol, Hit Calaveras Road down the canyon and over the surprisingly easy pass to San Jose. Work your way according to the map down to the east of Highway 101 and then you have several choices from the map to get west over the mountains to Watsonville.