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Is a gravel bike useless out here?

Old 01-09-17, 09:13 PM
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cthenn
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Is a gravel bike useless out here?

I don't know how many fellow NorCal riders own a gravel or "adventure" bike, but I do, and I'm starting to wonder where the hell I'm supposed to ride it? Sure, there are a TON of MTB trails (hell, it was invented here!), but a lot of those MTB routes are not really friendly for gravel bikes. Most trails or fire roads are quite steep and hilly, or a bit too technical for a rigid, drop-bar bike (at least for my questionable off-road skills).

Can anyone recommend some good transitional routes that include some pavement, and some dirt/gravel around? I don't want to necessarily haul the bike somewhere on my car to do riding, so I'm talking mostly in the East Bay. I don't mind some hills, but a gravel bike isn't really cut out for a lot of the MTB trails around here.
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Old 01-10-17, 11:05 AM
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Not much gravel around here, however way too much mud!
Your bike is between a cycle-cross and a road bike.
So you are better off riding it on the roads or bad roads that we also have plenty of!
What will marketers invent next?
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Old 01-10-17, 01:01 PM
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Ride alongside the IHT? I thought out towards Clayton there were some roads that sounds like what you're looking for (flatish, dirt, etc)

I haven't lived out there for awhile though
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Old 01-10-17, 01:17 PM
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Morgan Territory?
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Old 01-10-17, 01:28 PM
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I realize Santa Cruz is a bit of a haul, but if it ever stops raining and you want a change of scene, I ride mine all the time on the trails and fire-roads of Wilder Ranch and UCSC. It is challenging enough to make it entertaining, but easy enough for me to do it without any particular skill or athletic prowess.
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Old 01-10-17, 01:56 PM
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just curious, I went to TrailLink, scrolled over to the greater SanFran area & filtered for bike trails with these surfaces: ballast, cinder, crushed stone, dirt, gravel & woodchips. it came back with these + more. most seem real short, dunno why

Santa Rosa Creek Trail
State: California
Length: 15.7 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Gravel

Shepherd Canyon Trail (Montclair Railroad Trail)
State: California
Length: 1.4 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Crushed Stone

Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area Trails
State: California
Length: 5.38 miles
Surface: Crushed Stone

Petaluma Trails
State: California
Length: 12.5 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Dirt

Old Railroad Grade
State: California
Length: 4.4 miles
Surface: Ballast, Dirt

NWP Railroad Trail
State: California
Length: 1.31 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Crushed Stone

Lands End Trail
State: California
Length: 2 miles
Surface: Crushed Stone, Dirt

High Canal Bridge Pathway
State: California
Length: 1.46 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Crushed Stone

Lands End Trail
State: California
Length: 2 miles
Surface: Crushed Stone, Dirt

Mori Ridge Trail
State: California
Length: 1.17 miles
Surface: Dirt

Baquiano Trail
State: California
Length: 0.97 miles
Surface: Dirt

Sweeney Ridge Trail
State: California
Length: 2.17 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Dir

Crystal Springs Regional Trail
State: California
Length: 16.5 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Dirt

Matadero Creek Trail
State: California
Length: 1.5 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Dirt

good luck!
National Trail Map - Biking, Walking, Hiking, Running, Snowmobile Trail Maps | TrailLink

Last edited by rumrunn6; 01-10-17 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 01-10-17, 07:24 PM
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From Inspiration Point (the one in Tilden Park at the top of Wildcat Canyon Rd between Orinda and Berkeley), take the Nimitz trail, the paved multi-use trail. After a mile or two, the crowds all but disappear. After just over 4 miles, the pavement disappears. Since I'm a pavement guy, I haven't gone any further. But the trail continues on (unpaved) for several more miles - four miles, I think - which makes for a nice out-and-back.

Also, there are unpaved back roads in the Delta. I could point you to one of about five miles or so (inflicted on me someone I thought was my friend ), but there are certainly others.
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Old 01-11-17, 12:23 AM
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I'm a big fan of gravel riding In the East Bay, some nice transitional routes are Black Diamond Trail from Clayton to Antioch, Old Briones Road, the least technical route through Briones Park, and, in Fremont's Coyote Hills Park, Apay Way and the Shoreline Trail.

Elsewhere in the Bay Area...

-Old Haul Road from Loma Mar to Portola Redwoods SP
-San Pedro Mtn Road (aka Planet of the Apes Road), from Pacifica to Montara
-Gazos Creek Road and Butano Fire Road, both in Big Basin SP
-Willow Creek Road in Sonoma County
-Aptos Creek Fire Road in Nisene Marks SP

And if you're willing to travel a bit farther still, you can get to dirt roads that are still open to cars, which are ideal for gravel riding because they're kept in decent condition. Lake and Colusa County, both about 2 hours by car from the East Bay, have fantastic networks of beautiful and remote dirt roads, like Leesville Road, Bartlett Springs Road, and Old Toll Road. You can google any of these to find out exact locations, or I can give you more info if you're interested.
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Old 01-12-17, 06:40 PM
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Awesome responses guys! Mos def gonna research some of these places, I liked the Trail Link site, that is a good resource. I got an idea to do Shell Ridge from the end of Marshall down to Castle Rock, doesn't look to be super steep in any places. But that'll have to wait until it dries out a bit. That seems to be the big problem. There are some good transitional areas, but most of the dirt around here turns to slippery muck in rain. The only true rocky trail I know of (granted, my knowledge is limited) is Mitchell Canyon, but I doubt I could make it up the steep parts, so it would be one very long out and back for just a few miles of gravel.

I'll take a look at some of these ideas, thanks everyone!
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Old 01-12-17, 07:35 PM
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This map link was posted on this forum before.Looks like lots of gravel roads are not included.

Gravel Road Maps and Biking Routes - Gravelmap
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Old 01-13-17, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by cthenn View Post
Shell Ridge from the end of Marshall down to Castle Rock, doesn't look to be super steep in any places. But that'll have to wait until it dries out a bit.
Yes it will be soggy out there for a while. East Bay mud is the some really sticky stuff.


There will be a lot of trail damage from the cows.
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Old 01-13-17, 01:14 PM
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The mud is indeed incredibly sticky to the point that it will lock the wheels and the bike will double its weight! The only trail around Walnut Creek/Mt. Diablo that I know of without too much of the sticky stuff is Mitchell Canyon trail--but it is very steep! Briones is so hopeless because of the mud and the cows destroying the trails!
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Old 02-04-17, 12:22 PM
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Just missed Old Caz this past weekend. Pretty nice ride for to bring the gravelgrinders out.

Grasshopper Series tend to have some good organized rides out in Sonoma County.
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Old 02-04-17, 02:36 PM
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Briones Mountain BikeTrail Map Wait til' it dries some.
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Old 02-04-17, 11:53 PM
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To be honest, I've been riding a rigid 29er a lot lately.

Something like a gravel bike is pretty much ideal for semi-paved paths like the Iron Horse Trail, and a lot of the other bike only paths. Those paths are just to broken and rough for a pure road bike.

And don't neglect the fire roads. Yes they can be somewhat steep, but there's almost always a non-technical path down, and you may not even cook your brakes.

Morgan Territory (backside of Mt. Diablo) would be awesome on a gravel bike since the road is a pot-holed mess. The last time I went out there, I literally stopped and let 10 lbs of air out of my tires just to survive.
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Old 02-15-17, 01:04 PM
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Being in the bay area we have a bunch of levees to ride. I live in the south bay and have been going to the Don Edwards visitor center in Alviso and can take a ~12mile loop out to the bay and back. Even my wife can manage it. I need to explore more but there are a lot of these levee rides all around to be found.

Coyote Hills in Newark is fun. Across the Dumbarton near Marsh Road has another small park with a bunch of doable hills. You can do it all in one ride if you like...
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Old 04-09-17, 12:05 AM
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I rode last weekend on my gravel bike from my house to Don Edwards regional over dumbarton bridge, out past Facebook campus to a small park, thenback across dumbarton over in to Coyote hills using the levees, then back home, about 26 miles n lots of fun.
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