This is one of the two monster out-and-backs (map) in Sonoma-Napa-Lake counties (Geysers Road being the other). At 72 miles and nearly 11,000’ of climbing, this route will challenge the heartiest of climbers. The route consists of 6 main climbs (Map) – 3 on the way out and 3 on the way back. The mightiest of the climbs is the infamous Rancheria Wall (segment 3 heading towards the coast). The Wall averages 12% and has several 20%+ stretches on it.
If you are looking for a remote and nearly private ride through rural Sonoma county, this is it – but be prepared because it is quite challenging.
We begin at Warms Springs Dam and climb through isolated terrain that transitions from grazing land to oak studded hillside, to a stretch that follows the Wheatfield Fork of the Gualala River, past Annapolis Road (to Sea Ranch), over one of the handful of truss bridges in remote areas of Sonoma County, through redwood forest and ending at Stewarts Point Store on the rugged Sonoma County Coast. . . . AND BACK!
Rarely do we see cyclists on this route and you will likely never encounter more than 20 vehicles over a 6-8 hour ride outing. Generally, the scenery is pasture, oaks and heavily forested hillsides for the first 25 miles and redwood/ferns for the next 10. For the first 8 miles we have intermittent views of Lake Sonoma to the right (north).
This climbing test is best undertaken in the cooler months as this area is very hot during the summer months – normally in the 90’s, although after clearing the Rancheria Wall at about mile 30, the temperatures are always cooler as we are on the coastal section of the journey at this point.
As of April, 2015, there is water at mile 27.5 at Camp Liahona and Kashia elementary school at Stewarts Point Rancheria mile 31.5. At the turn around point (Stewarts Point Store) there is a deli and market that has most anything you need, including Advil!
Camp Liahona left; Kashia Elementary School right
Roadway surface and traffic: The road is called Skaggs Springs Road for the first 13 miles, changing to Stewarts Point/Skaggs Springs Road at mile 13 (beginning just after the intersection of Skaggs Road and Old Stewarts Point-Skaggs Road – a dead end, by the way). The road for these first 13 miles is wide and generally has a bike lane/wide shoulder. For the next 20 miles, the majority of the road is narrow with no bike lane, although there is not much traffic so the ride has been completely safe on our many times out and back. The roadway surface is excellent, except for some rough sections over the 20 miles from mile 13 to the coast.