China Camp-Tomales Century

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

View the entire Google Web Album

Click here to watch a short video of today’s ride

The century Michael and I are riding today begins with a clockwise loop around China Camp State Park followed by a climb up Lucas Valley through the redwoods of Central Marin out to Nicasio Reservoir. The route continues NW for the climb up Marshall Wall out to Tomales Bay and Hwy 1 to the town of Tomales for lunch. The course heads east on Chileno Valley Rd out to Petaluma and concludes with a climb up Red Hill to Hicks Valley.

The clockwise loop around China Camp begins on N Pedro Rd along the northern end of San Rafael through the residential neighborhoods by San Pedro Mountain Preserve. The short little climb into the park leads to beautiful waterfront views of the marshes, wetlands and open meadows along the shores of San Pablo Bay. Restrooms and water are located at the many picnic areas along the park.

The gentle rolling terrain around China Camp leads down to the other side at Point San Pedro. The flat terrain on this stretch of road has awesome views of SF Bay and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge!

To avoid the morning traffic around 3rd St in San Rafael, we ride through the residential neighborhoods on Marina Blvd, Mission and Belle to Grand Ave. The turn on Linden takes us onto the multi-use path that parallels Hwy 101; the path ends at Merrydale Rd near N San Pedro Rd.

The next 3+ miles goes north through Terra Linda on Los Ranchitos and Las Gallinas around The Mall At Northgate and the commercial area of town. The short climbs through the residential neighborhoods on Las Gallinas take us back to Lucas Valley Rd.

The climb up Lucas Valley to Big Rock summit is followed by a sweeping descent through the giant redwoods out to Nicasio.

The flat rolling terrain along Nicasio Reservoir has fabulous views of the blue waters, mountains, golden hills and open grasslands.

We get a fabulous tailwind for the climb up Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd to the Marin Cheese Factory; it’s 1.4 miles with a 6% average grade. Food, water & restrooms are available at the Cheese Factory.

We continue on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd though the picturesque Hicks Valley with great views of Hicks Mountain and the expansive grasslands with grazing cattle.

Marshall Petaluma Rd is 11 miles long from Hicks valley Rd to the other end at Hwy 1. The first 6.4 miles of gentle rolling terrain takes you through open meadows, farms and cattle ranches with aging farm equipment and trucks.

The climb up “Marshall Wall” begins at the old white farm-house and cattle ranch. This 1.5 mile stair step climb has a false summit; the first section has steeper grades of 9-11%, the road eases up a bit and continues climbing with grades of 7-8% up to the top of the ridge. The mountain views are still pretty spectacular even with the coastal fog rolling in!

The fast descent down to the ranch is followed by a short climb along the back of the ridge before the steep drop down to Hwy 1.

Riding along this stretch of Hwy 1 during the weekday is just wonderful with minimal traffic and cyclists and no roaring motorcycles! The rolling climbs offer great views of Tomales Bay and the surrounding open hillsides.

The flat 2+ mile section through the lagoon is amazingly calm with mild winds and no traffic at all!

We continue on Hwy 1 north for the lunch stop in Tomales. Food, water and restrooms are available; the key to the restrooms is located at the counter inside the Tomales Café.

After lunch, we head east on Tomales Petaluma Rd for the next 5.2 miles; the road pavement on this section of road is super smooth. The rolling terrain on this road has stellar views of the open valley, farms and ranchlands!

Chileno Valley Rd take us SE along the beautiful Chileno Valley; the one climb up to the ranch is followed by gentle rolling terrain through the expansive ranchlands, hay fields, open meadows and lake.

Chileno Valley Rd heading north is 3.8 miles long with several steep climbs up to Helen Putnam Regional Park in Petaluma. We meander through the residential neighborhoods on Western Ave and Windsor Dr to D St.

For the return, we head south on D St and Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd for the 1.8 mile 5-8% climb up Red Hill; this bucolic area has old farms and ranches, the Union School house, an equestrian center, grazing cattle, old weathered barns and hillside vineyards.

The marvelous straight descent from Red Hill drops us down to ever gorgeous Hicks Valley! To switch it up a bit, we return to Miller Creek via Novato on Novato Blvd. The rolling climbs on this back road take us through ranches, vineyards, farms and pasture lands. Water and restrooms are available at Stafford Lake.

From Novato Blvd, we meander through the residential streets of Novato on Sutro Ave, Vineyard and Mill St. Indian Valley Rd is populated with many horse farms, ranches and equestrian centers.

The 1.8 mile flat stretch on Ignacio Blvd takes us to Alameda Del Prado for the turn onto the bike path that parallels Hwy 101 back Miller Creek Rd.

What a fabulous way to spend a day riding around the beautiful back roads of Marin-I love life!

Garmin Stats:
103.69 Miles with 6512′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 667′
Avg grade: 3%
Max grade: 14%

Weather: Fantastic! Sunny and muggy with coastal fog along Tomales Bay. Brisk NW winds with temps ranging from the low 50’s to the mid 70’s

 Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.  ~Earl Nightingale


Click here to view the interactive route map & profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:



  1. Beautiful Route! I, too, need to take a day off midweek to ride!

    Rinaldi, Yes, let us know when and we’ll get together for a ride! Have time, will travel. Nancy


  2. Come on you two! Just Move Here!

    Bill, I’ll have to sell my firstborn child for that, but wait, I think he may be too old now! Are you renting any rooms out? Nancy



Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s