What time of year (month) would be best to tour from Portland to San Francisco? I'd be taking the PCH starting in Astoria, Oregon. I know that occasionally the road is shut down due to weather conditions...& I know that car traffic can be bad as well. Anyone here with experience w/ my route? Due to finances I probably won't be able to make the trip until after April-May 2010.
We did the Lund BC to Astoria portion last year and plan to go from Astoria to SF this year. We have also done 3 other Pacific Northwest coastal tours, all starting after Labor Day. As you probably know, living in PDX, the coast can be really foggy during the early and mid-summer months. We plan on leaving about the 1st week in September because the weather is usually a little better, and there seems to be less coastal fog. Another reason for this time of year is that a lot of the schools start classes, so there may be less "vacation" traffic on Highway 101 . The only problem is that a lot of the older RV folks seem to think the same way. We will see how these theories work out. I once did the Oregon Coast the wrong way (south to north) in mid summer, and it was still a great trip.
I did the same (Portland to SF) 9 years ago about this time of year.
In my case I rode over Highway 26 to Seaside and down - largely becasue I used to live in the area and knew the route.
The closures are usually road damage on CA highway 1, north of SF, and caused by bad winter storms. This time of year is no issue.
There is traffic, but this is such a popular bike route that people expect to see bikes, and the ACA route avoids any real bad stretches.
Make sure you have good gears, there are some real hills despite the route generally being near the ocean.
In Oregon, unless the economy has changed things, there are state park campgrounds with showers and hiker biker group sites about every 30 miles. CA less so, especially now as several have been closed due to the state's financial issues - check in advance so you are prepared.
How late in the fall can this route be done without the weather or road conditions becoming too unfavorable? I know that in California there were mud slides closing the road in places when I was there in the winter (driving in that case).
I rode from SF to Santa Barbara starting on 10/31, had beautiful crisp mornings, warm afternoons, light breezes and cold nights. No rain. Short days were a little challenging, though.
If I had to pick "perfect" I would say start the day after Labor Day, as others have said that gets you the combo of good weather and lighter traffic. But I *would* do that route any time from May to October, mid July - mid Sept would be best for weather, May and Sept would be better for traffic.
I've done this road twice in the middle of summer - July/August. The traffic wasn't bad, and the weather was great. I grew up in Seattle, and know that it can dump rain on you for extended periods anytime during the year, but your odds for sunshine are best in July and August.
The worst traffic was in California, in the redwoods, by the "Trees of Mystery". (I don't remember exactly where it was, but I remember the Trees of Mystery. There were also giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe somewhere in there. There were no shoulders in many places, and there was road construction, adding to the problems.
Be careful of the logging trucks on Legget Hill. They don't care about bicyclists' safety.