Paso Robles: Hog Canyon to Parkfield

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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The plan for today is to do a shorter ride out to Hog Canyon Rd with a return through San Miguel. This route promises plenty of rolling hills through ranches, vineyards and wineries.

We head north on River Rd along the dry creek bed of the Salinas River. It’s a gentle grade through olive groves, horse ranches, vineyards and the River “K” Pumpkin Patch.

The route continues east on Wellsona Rd for a very short climb up to the flat open farmlands, horse and sheep ranches, orchards and vineyards throughout Airport Rd, Tower and Jardine Rds. The lands stretch for as far as the eye can see; it’s pretty incredible!

We cross the bridge over Estrella River to Hog Canyon Rd; it’s an 8.6 mile stretch of road that takes you along the gentle rolling hills of San Miguel. The first 3 miles runs through a residential neighborhood with many ranch style homes and horse ranches.

The road changes to a single lane as you wind your way through the many wineries, vineyards and orchards along the canyon. This quiet secluded road opens up to the sight of the valley with its soft rolling hillsides. Old barns, ranches and farm equipment are sparsely dotted among the landscape.

The turn on Ranchito Canyon Rd brings us pass a huge horse ranch with paddocks and a training arena. The single lane paved road eventually changes to a packed gravel road, we continue on. The farther ahead we go, the worse the road conditions become. It is only after about 5 miles that we realize we made a wrong turn. What are we to do? We’ve reached the point where it’s better to forge ahead than to turn around. We already made the steep climb up the Cholame Hills and we’re very near the top of the ridge. I opt to get off the bike and walk across the huge crevices and through the thick heavy sandy sections of the road.

At the top, we stop to enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding hills and the San Miguel valley. This unexpected mixed terrain ride proves to be quite an adventure when we have to exit the road through a locked gate on a private ranch. We are definitely trespassing on private property and cause a stir when the dogs start barking at us!

We exit the ranch onto Cholame Rd where we see a car pass by on another road further ahead. I have no idea where we’re at, the map I have on hand for the route is not very detailed, all I know is that we are further east than we need to be. We need to head west! We eventually come upon a sign that tells us we are on Vineyard Canyon Rd and 24 miles away from San Miguel-we’re in Parkfield!

I look at the time and it’s about 2 PM, we still have plenty of daylight to get back to Paso Robles. We stop under a big oak tree and sit down to have our peanut butter sandwiches.

The climb up Cholame Hill on Vineyard Canyon Rd is about 2 miles long with gradient ranges of 6-9% and maxes out at 12% as you near the top. You get some awesome viewpoints of the valley below!

From the summit, the remaining 14.6 miles on Vineyard Canyon is on flat to gentle rolling terrain through the valley. The amount of untouched open fields and grasslands out here are amazing!

Vineyard Canyon ends at the intersection with Indian Valley Rd; the 2 mile stretch of bumpy road on Indian Valley takes us back on route to River Rd. We cross the bridge over the dry Salinas River into San Miguel for a quick stop at the Mission Deli & Market.

We exit San Miguel and take River Rd heading south back to Paso Robles.

The unexpected wrong turn in the middle of the ride inadvertently resulted in us combining two routes into one; the Hog Canyon loop and a ride out to Parkfield minus the steak lunch at the V6 Ranch. Life is a great adventure if we choose to view missteps as positive notes as opposed to negative ones. Most importantly, we got back safely!

Our planned group dinner was at Panolivo on Park St. Jackie and I split our entrees for a little variety. The service was friendly and the food was delicious. The mini desserts  were a nice ending to the meal.

VDO Stats:
66.9 Miles with 4195′ of elevation gain
Avg grade: 3%
Max grade: 14%

Weather: FANTASTIC! Sunny with clear blue skies. Lo morning temp of 42F and reaching an afternoon high of 69F in Parkfield

You know, I’ll try anything. I’ll do anything. I’ll explore.

Click here to view the extended detour route map & profile

Click here to view the route map & profile (the correct version)

Follow this route for the correct version of today’s ride:

One Comment

  1. Nancy, It’s surprising what good views you can get from atop some of these hills as you are not very high. But the surrounding countryside is very pretty. Carole

    Carole, The riding in and around Paso Robles is absolutely fabulous. Will be looking forward to returning to this area to explore and enjoy other routes. Nancy


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