Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The century route for today begins in Napa for a counter clock-wise loop out to Lake Berryessa, Pope Valley and heads further north to Middletown. The return to Napa is south on Hwy 29 to Silverado Trail.
The first mile out of downtown Napa on Trancas St is through a congested traffic area with no shoulder or bike lane-be on alert here! The traffic dies down considerably as we cross Silverado Trail to Monticello Rd/Hwy 121.
The beautiful climb on Hwy 121 over Mt George is a little over 3 miles long with 6-9% grades on wonderful smooth pavement. The few secluded homes, vineyards and ranches you see are tucked away from the main road with plenty of open space.
The descent drops us down to the intersection at Wooden Valley Rd where we continue straight to stay on Hwy 121 for the next 5.5 miles. The road ahead provides great views of the Vaca Mountains, the vast open grasslands and vineyards around Wooden Valley-it’s gorgeous!
The one mile climb on this section of Hwy 121 has gradient ranges of 7-9%, you’re at the top when you reach the wide open clearing. The last four miles of flat rolling terrain takes you through some wooded areas with old oaks and hanging moss out the open valley to Moskowite Corners.
The Moskowite Corners Store is closed again; there are no facilities or food here. There is a water spigot located across the street at the Community Church. Otherwise, the nearest store and porta-potty is at the Turtle Rock Bar & Café located about 5 miles away on Hwy 128.
We continue on Hwy 128 for the next flat 5 miles through Cappell Valley; the open valley floor is home to a few vineyards, horse ranches, and even a RV storage park. We ride pass the Turtle Rock Café before taking the turn on Berryessa Knoxville Rd; they’re supposed to serve excellent eggrolls, next time I’ll have to stop and order some.
Berryessa Knoxville Rd runs through the canyon along Cappell Creek and the western shores of Lake Berryessa. The one short climb from Capell Cove up to the ridge has fabulous views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Take a moment to stop at one of the many vista points to enjoy the beauty of deep blue waters and sculpted ridges of the mountains.
The day use areas of the lake have picnic tables with water and restrooms. You can buy sandwiches, snack foods, water and cold drinks at the Spanish Flat Country Store. The restrooms are located next store at the laundry mat. They even have a nice outdoor picnic area for public use.
From Spanish Flat, the 8 miles of long rolling climbs on Berryessa Knoxville Rd brings you across the bridge to the intersection with Pope Canyon Rd. We can hear the calls of some birds and look up towards the electrical tower and see a huge Osprey nest on top of a platform; the chicks are calling out and the mother Osprey can be seen swooping over from the lake and landing with a fish to feed its chicks-WOW!
Pope Canyon Rd is 8.6 miles long and begins with a short steep climb with max grades of 11-12% followed by another climb with lesser grades of 6-7%. The remaining flat gentle rolling miles through the canyon follows Pope Creek out to Pope Valley.
The valley floor opens up to expansive fields of wild flowers, pastoral grasslands, stock ponds, vineyards and some farmland with forested hilltops and mountains in the far distant.
The one mile stretch on Pope Valley Cross Rd cuts through the vineyards of Hardester Ranch to Chiles Pope Valley Rd and brings us to our lunch stop at the Pope Valley Store. You can buy your basic snack foods, some microwavable stuff, packaged sandwiches and cold drinks along with ice cream bars. They have a few outdoor tables and chairs in front and the porta-potty is located next to the side of the store in the parking area.
We continue through Pope Valley on Pope Valley Rd out to Aetna Springs with scenic views of acres and acres grape vines growing throughout this fertile valley. We roll pass Litto’s Hubcap Ranch with more than ever hubcaps everywhere! The ranch now has a stone encased plaque listing it as a California Registered Historical Landmark No. 939-pretty cool!
Pope Valley Rd becomes Butts Canyon Rd at Aetna Springs; Butts Canyon goes on for 14.7 miles out to Middletown. It begins with a short climb up through semi-desert like landscape with a short descent through Snell Valley; the two small humps takes you up and over to Guenoc Valley.
This valley is home to the Langtry Farms Estate & Winery; this area is pristinely maintained with white fences lining both sides of the road through the rolling grasslands out to Detert Reservoir with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.
Butts Canyon continues around the reservoir over to Long Valley; the flat terrain leads us to the expansive green meadows with fields of yellow and purple wildflowers. This pastoral area is dotted with grazing cattle, horse ranches, farm houses and acres of farmlands. Old farm equipment and vintage trucks are put out to pasture along the side of the road for all to see.
Hwy 29 takes us right through Middletown out to Collayomi Valley pass the Middletown Rancheria/Twin Pines Casino, a few B & B’s and several horse ranches.
I haven’t been up here on Hwy 29 for a few years and the road has been repaved-it’s absolutely wonderful! The gentle climb up through the Mayacamas Mountains winds through the thick lush forests and continues under a gorgeous canopy of trees up to the summit at Robert Stevenson Memorial State Park. On the downhill, traffic is backed up due to some tree trimming work being done; the stopping and going of traffic in both directions worked out perfectly for us as we descend the mountain with no cars behind us!
From Hwy 29, we continue south on Silverado Trail for the next flat 18.9 miles through the beautiful scenic wineries and vineyards of Napa Valley.
We turn on Yountville Cross Rd and make our way through the town of Yountville and head south on Solano Ave back to the Park & Ride lot.
This century route has a very high scenic value around the remote roads of Napa and Lake Counties. You just have to go prepared with enough water and food; a Camekbak is a good thing to have during warm/hot weather!
It was great to be able to ride this route during the weekday without all the weekend traffic from folks heading out to the lake pulling their boats.
105.55 Miles with 6378′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 2115′
Avg grade: 3%
Max grade: 13%
Weather: WONDERFUL! Sunny, warm & breezy. NE morning winds turning to SE afternoon winds. Temps ranged from the mid 50’s to the high 80’s
I’ve got nothing to do today but smile. ~Paul Simon
Follow this route for today’s ride: