Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Today’s century tour of Napa Valley begins with a loop going north up Mt Veeder and returns south on Dry Creek Rd. The route continues north on Silverado Trail and heads NE for another loop out to Lake Hennessey and Pope Valley. The climb up Ink Grade Rd drops down to White Cottage Rd to the sweeping descent on Deer Park Rd. The rest of the course goes a bit further north into Calistoga before returning south on Silverado Trail and Hwy 29 for a jaunt through Yountville.
We begin at the Park & Ride lot on Redwood Rd & Solano Ave in Napa. This is a very convenient place to park your vehicle for a ride. Water and restrooms are available at the Chevron Station located across the street.
We head west on Redwood Rd through the residential neighborhood and follow the road as it turns away from town going north. The gentle terrain on this quiet road has minimal to no traffic with a few homes, ranches and vineyards tucked back within the woods. The temperature is much cooler back here as we ride under the canopy of trees that follow along Redwood Creek. It’s in the low 40’s here!
We continue on Mt Veeder Rd for the 4.2 mile climb up to the summit. The stair step climb has some steep sections with gradient ranges of 9-10% and maxes out at around 12% as you approach the top. Today is a great day to be going up Veeder; on a hot day, it’s brutal with no shade and full exposure to the sun.
The mountain views from the summit are fantastic! The descent on Mt Veeder Rd is very bumpy with lots of potholes and fallen debris-ride with caution!
The turn on Dry Creek Rd takes through the valley by many homes and ranches along Dry Creek. There is one home in particular that has a dinosaur themed yard with a full-sized T-Rex in the front yard. Look for it the next time you’re up there and stop to check out the raptor, Brontosaurus and other dinos.
The descent on Dry Creek Rd opens up to the breathtaking Napa Valley with vineyards and wineries lining both sides of the road! It’s a gorgeous sight to see in the early morning hours.
To get to Silverado Trail, we meander through town on Trower Ave out to Big Ranch Rd. This area is filled with horse ranches and more vineyards; both old and new growth vines. I can see the large carpet of bright yellow wildflowers out in the open fields-it just pops out at you! There’s also a large outdoor art sculpture of key, a keyhole and a huge chain link-it’s pretty cool looking!
Oak Knoll Rd takes us to out onto the main road through Napa Valley; Silverado Trail. The rolling flat terrain for the next 10.1 miles takes us through the picturesque floor of the famous Napa Valley. World class wineries and vineyards occupy the whole valley from north to south and vice versa. I can certainly see why tourists and locals alike love coming here; it’s an absolutely beautiful part of California!
We take Sage Canyon Rd for the next 3.8 miles out to Lake Hennessey and make a quick pit stop at the boat launch area. There are porta-potties there but no water.
We continue north for the quiet gentle climb up Chiles Pope Valley Rd; the lower section runs up along Maxwell Creek.
The upper section goes through the open green meadows with old barns, ranches and farmhouses along with a few wineries and vineyards. Our lunch stop is at the Pope Valley Store; food, water and porta-potties are available here.
The second half of the route heads further north on Pope Valley Rd through the scenic valley of pastoral lands, ranches and vineyards.
The next climb is up Ink Grade Rd; it’s a 4 mile stair-step climb up to White Cottage Rd with gradient ranges of 5-9% at the steepest sections. This is another quiet less traveled road along the back ridge of the valley with great mountain views. There a few ranches along with a free range chicken farm, orchards and homes hidden in this area. You’re near the top when you approach the second set of guard rails on the left with a stone wall to the right. We both feel some light drops of rain but the word RAIN is not to be mentioned-we move on!
White Cottage Rd runs along the western end of Angwin down to Deer Park Rd. Once you see the mountain views, you realize you’re still pretty far up on the hill! There’s a downhill coming!
The sweeping descent on Deer Park Rd can get to be pretty fast, but not today, the roads are wet! We mistakenly make the wrong turn on Sanitarium Rd; it turns out there are two Sanitarium Rds along Deer Park, we’re supposed to turn on the second lower one. Easy fix, we just turn around and head further south along Deer Park.
The right turn on Sanitarium Rd can be very easy to miss if you’re bombing down the hill, so you’ll need to slow down for the wide turn. We continue on Crystal Springs Rd for the next 2.1 miles; it’s a single lane road that goes through the orchards and open meadows of Pratt Valley.
We’re back on Silverado Trail and head north for the next 5.8 miles to the town of Calistoga. The run along Silverado Trail offers sensational views of the many wineries and vineyards along with wild displays of wildflowers growing within and along the rows of grapevines.
We turn on Lincoln St and ride through the downtown area of Calistoga and make a quick stop at the Fast & Easy Mart before heading south on Hwy 29. The headwinds we had earlier are now a sweet payback of a tailwind! The 4.1 miles on Hwy 29 went by fast!
The turn on Bale Ln is easy to miss; there is no signage, so you would have to pay attention to the mileage point. Bale Lane brings us back to Silverado Trail; we head south with the tailwinds behind us for the next 7.9 miles-fabulous! The turn on Conn Creek Rd is a nice detour through the vineyards to Rutherford Rd.
Rutherford Rd leads us back to Hwy 29 south; cross with caution-this is a high traffic area! The 3 miles along Hwy 29 has beautiful views of the wineries and vineyards surrounding Napa valley with the mountains as a great backdrop-WOW!
The turn on Yount Mill Rd takes us on a single lane road through the vineyards with open grasslands and ranches. It becomes Yount Rd as you enter the town of Yountville; famous for the world-renowned restaurant-The French Laundry. This town has a beautiful garden and many outdoor art displays and sculptures.
We exit Yountville on California St and ride along the flats on Solano Ave back to the Park & Ride lot in Napa.
What a fantastic ride this was! The sheer scenic beauty of the route was stupendous as was the climbs up the many quiet back roads around the valley. I’d do this again!
105.97 Miles with 5413′ of elevation gain
Avg grade: 3%
Max grade: 12%
Weather: GOOD! Cloudy overcast skies with cool temps ranging from the low 40’s to the high 50’s. Winds-SW
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. ~Marcus Aurelius
Follow this route for today’s ride: