Palomares, Calaveras & Felter

Saturday, May 4, 2013

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The original plan for today was to start out from Castro Valley BART to ride the Primavera Century route which includes the climbs up Palomares & Calaveras out to Sunol. The course includes an additional loop around Livermore on Altamont Pass, Carroll Rd & N Flynn to Patterson Pass before returning to Castro Valley on Dublin Canyon. But this was not to be as we got turned around before the half way point on Calaveras Rd; the road was closed due to a car accident. We improvised and added a loop around Felter Rd to Sierra Rd before reversing our route back to Castro Valley from Milpitas.

We exit the BART parking lot on Northbridge Ave out Castro Valley Rd; the climbs out of town heading east is a nasty section pass the I-580 freeway interchange with lots of vehicles and traffic lights.

Palomares Rd is 9.7 miles long and stretches from Palo Verde Rd in Castro Valley to Niles Canyon Rd in Sunol. The gentle rolling terrain for the first couple of miles on this beautiful quiet back road takes you through the many horse ranches and wooded canyon along Palomares Creek.

Once you cross the narrow bridge, you’ll come upon the steeper sustained climb up to the summit; it begins at mile marker 4.05 with grades of 7-8% and steadily increases to grades of 9-11% as you reach mile marker 4.74. It maxes out at 13% as you approach the turn at the yellow right arrow sign.

The descent on Palomares Rd goes through the gorgeous Stonybrook Canyon along the shaded creek; it’s a fast downhill with a few tight turns-beware of the gravel and short steep drop to Niles Canyon Rd.

We head south on Niles Canyon for 2.2 out to Mission Blvd in Fremont. The 4 mile stretch on Mission Blvd to Mission San Jose has been repaved and it’s absolutely wonderful! But do watch out for the narrow section of road near the I-680 interchange and the increased traffic in this area.

We continue south to Milpitas on Warm Springs Blvd and turn on Scott Creek Rd to the residential neighborhoods on N Victoria Park to the horse ranches on Evans Rd.

Calaveras Rd from Evans Rd begins with a short steep climb up a wall with grades of 9-12% and eases to grades of 5-8% up to Ed Levin County Park.

Calaveras Rd continues on up pass Laguna Cemetery, a few more horse ranches and training arenas.

The “Calaveras Wall” begins at the foot of Felter Rd; it’s a short 0.3 mile climb with very steep grades of 10-15% up to the summit. The road follows the ridge along the foothills of Diablo Range with gorgeous vistas of Calaveras Valley and Calaveras Reservoir. We stop near the electrical transmission towers to view the bald eagle’s nest before being told to turn around; the road ahead is not open to through traffic due to a car accident-someone ran off the road and dropped 250′ down the hillside.

At this point, we can’t complete the Primavera Century route, so we’ll cut it short and go with the flow and do a loop out on Felter to Sierra and Piedmont Rd before reversing the route back to Castro Valley.  It’ll be a nice change, we haven’t been on that road for a while.  

The rolling climbs along Felter Rd has some very steep sections with grades of 9-15%; it runs 4.1 miles though the Los Buellis Hills with grazing cattle and a few homes and estates hidden up along the hillsides. This less traveled road has great views of Calaveras Valley and the surrounding mountains.

Sierra Rd begins where Felter ends; the two lane road becomes a narrow single lane for the 2 miles up to the summit. It’s a gorgeous stretch of road with minimal to no traffic that winds along the back side of the ridge with magnificent views of the hills and valley of the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve-WOW! You have to come up here to see this for yourself-it’s spectacular!




DSCN1404-2The 3.7 mile descent on Sierra Rd down to Piedmont Rd is steep; be careful! Take a minute to stop at one of the lookout points to enjoy the awesome views of the cities surrounding Santa Clara County-WOW!


We head north on Piedmont Rd and reverse our route back on Evans and make our way back through the city streets to Mission Blvd.

From Mission Blvd, we take Niles Canyon Rd back up to Palomares Rd; the 2.2 miles follows Alameda Creek with gentle grades-watch for the high level of traffic in this area!

The turn onto Palomares Rd from Niles Canyon requires much attention-watch for traffic both ways, make sure you’re in a lower gear for the immediate short steep pitch and try to avoid all the gravel!

The road up south Palomares follows the creek through Stonybrook Canyon; the first couple of miles have grades of 7-10% around the switchbacks and eases up when see the yellow twisty 20 MPH road sign.

The gentle rolling terrain for the remaining miles goes pass a some ranch homes with horses, the Holy Cross Monastery and a couple of wineries; the Westover Winery and the Chouinard Vineyards & Winery.

The descent on Palomares Rd is like a sling shot-it’s fast! Before you know it, you’re on the other side of the hill going through the valley. Castro Valley Rd takes us back to the turn on Norbridge Ave into the BART parking lot.

It turned out to be a fabulous ride despite the route change; we didn’t get the miles but we got more elevation gain and spectacular views along Felter & Sierra Rd! Change is good!

Garmin Stats:
78.03 Miles with 6296′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 2021′
Avg grade: 4%
Max grade: 15%

Weather: FANTASTIC! Sunny and hot with clear blue skies and mild NW winds. Temps ranged from the mid 60’s to the mid 90’s

Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing!


Click here to view the interactive route map & profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:

One Comment

  1. Nancy I really enjoy reading your ride chronicles. You do an amazing job of photography, routing, AND reporting! Thank you!

    Lois, THANK YOU for taking the time to read the blog! Hope your riding is going well-have fun on your next BAC trip. Nancy


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