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Cycling Willow Creek Road
Ride 3.7 miles gaining 1,113’ at 5.5% average grade.
One of our favorite Sonoma County, California bike climbs.
One of the most beautiful climbs in Sonoma County and the North Bay.
The climb is accessed from the end of Willow Creek paved road, 4.3 miles from California’s scenic coastal Highway 1. Go around the gate to get started on the redwood needle and dirt road -- this is a beautiful, peaceful, and nearly private climb through the Sonoma Coast redwoods.
About half-way from Highway 1 to the start.
Climb begins 4.3 miles from the intersection of Willow Creek Road and Highway 1,
just south of the small coastal town of Jenner.
Willow Creek Road is a gorgeous, quiet, and fairly private climb through Western Sonoma County redwoods. The trail is an alternative route back to Occidental, Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, etc. from the Jenner/Bodega Bay coastal areas. While the trail is not paved, it is easily manageable on a road bike (25-28mm tires recommended), other than a 0.1 mile 22% section at around the 2.5 mile mark, which may require a dismount and brief walk.
Ride along a shaded path through lush redwood forest the first half of the climb.
This climb is highly recommended for its rural and forested charm and should be done at least once in your cycling lifetime if you live in the area.
Sonoma Hiking Trails writes of Willow Creek:
A permit-for-use 3,373 acre addition to the existing Sonoma Coast State Park lands, Willow Creek offers a 15-mile network of ranch and logging roads leading to numerous trails, perennial streams, and scenic overlooks. Trails connect with adjacent State Park lands (Pomo Canyon and Shell Beach), allowing hikers and bikers to trek from Duncans Mills to Shell Beach, approximately 7 miles each way. The park features forests and grasslands with stunning views of the ocean, including the popular “Islands in the Sky” loop. Access is from Duncans Mills off Freezeout Road (with parking lot through locked gate), at the end of Willow Creek Rd off Coleman Valley Rd (extremely limited parking on road), or off Coleman Valley Road (extremely limited parking on road). (Read More.)
Limited access during the 2020 COVID-19 Crisis.
The road is normally open to hikers and cyclists, however.
From Coleman Valley Road turn right to Occidental (1.2 miles) or Highway 1 (10 miles).
A nice 28 mile loop is from Duncans Mills, to Willow Creek Road, to Occidental, back to Duncans Mills.
Gold Coast Coffee (top photo) is a local gem in Duncans Mills. Don’t miss the gorgeous back patio area!
Duncans Mills (population 175) is a picturesque community nestled between the coast and the redwoods, and was
established in 1877 as a lumber mill which sent lumber to San Francisco and beyond. Today, if you blink you’ll miss it, but that would be a shame! Though a tiny community, it has a great coffee shop and bakery (Gold Coast, pictured above), a picturesque shopping district complete with tea shop, antique shop, restaurant, an art gallery, and many local and artisan boutiques, along with great options for hiking, camping, canoeing, and much more. Visit the Duncans Mills website here for more information on this unique Victorian village.