Pigeon Point Lighthouse-Purisima Creek

Sunday, June 30, 2013

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For today, we’re meeting up with our friend Jackie for a ride along the San Mateo Coastline heading south from Half Moon Bay to Pigeon Point Lighthouse. The route heads inland on Gazo Creek to Cloverdale into Pescadero for lunch at Arcangeli’s. The second half includes the climb up Stage Creek Rd with an additional out and back on Pomponio Creek Rd. It continues on Tunitas Creek and Lobitos Creek Cutoff for the gorgeous climb up Purisima Creek Rd followed by a descent on Higgins Canyon Rd.          

We exit Half Moon Bay and head south on CA-1 for 20.3 miles out to Pigeon Point Rd. The first several flat miles rolls pass the many ranches and rich agricultural fields along the coast. It’s a perfect day to be heading south along CA-1 with north winds pushing us on-it’s going to be fun!

The climbs along the coastline do not exceed gradient ranges of 7-9%; the longest ascent begins at mile 8.2 at the Tunitas Creek bridge crossing up to mile 9.6 at the intersection with Stage Rd. The fast descent drops down to the next intersection at CA-84/La Honda Rd followed by a series of rolling climbs along the coastal beaches.

The road quickly descends on CA-1 from Pomponio State Beach to the flats out to Pescadero State Beach. The ocean views are spectacular with its rocky shores and sandy beaches; you can smell the wonderful briny waters coming off from the cool ocean breeze. From Pescadero Beach, the terrain along CA-1 S is mostly flat all the way to Pigeon Point Lighthouse. The flat section along Pigeon Point Rd leads us along the back way to the lighthouse.

Perched on a cliff, the 115 foot Pigeon Point Lighthouse is one of the tallest lighthouses in America. Take the time to go out on the boardwalk behind the fog signal building to take in the views of the crashing waves along the rocky reefs and the surrounding coastal scenes-it’s awesome! Seasonally, from January to April, you can even watch for gray whales on their annual migration! I love living in California!

We continue south on CA-1 and head inland on Gazo Creek Rd; this is a quiet single lane back road that runs along the creek through the woods with minimal to no traffic. The turn onto Cloverdale Rd leads to a very short steep climb that takes you up and over to the flats along Butano State Park.

This area is surrounding by grazing cattle, open meadows, horse ranches and farmlands.

The turn on Pescadero Creek Rd takes us to the small town of Pescadero for our lunch stop at Arcangeli’s-Norm’s Market. There is a nice picnic area located in the back with water and porta-potties. The chocolate chip cookies and chocolate croissants are the best as is their famous garlic-herb artichoke bread-yummy! I buy a few extra cookies an d croissants to bring home to my sons and use a plastic bag as a makeshift backpack to carry the goods for the rest of the ride!

We continue north for 4.5 miles on Stage Rd; this first climb on Stage is a little over a mile long with gentles grades of 4-5% followed by a sweeping descent to the bridge crossing over Pomponio Creek.

Pomponio Creed Rd is a quiet dead end road that leads out to the reservoir. The flat to gentle rolling terrain goes along a single lane road through some farmhouses, old barns, ranches and open meadows. We opt to turn around at the ranch with the small herd of alpacas, llamas and sheep.

We get back onto Stage Rd for the second 0.8 mile climb up through the grove of eucalyptus trees around the Santa Cruz Mountains; this section has steeper grades of 7-11%. The twisty descent along the back side of the ridge drops down to CA-84 at San Gregorio.

The third climb on Stage Rd from San Gregorio is about 1.3 miles with an average grade of 5%; enjoy the valley views as you wind your way up to the top at CA-1.

The short descent on CA-1 N takes us to the turn onto Tunitas Creek Rd; we stop at the Bike Hut to refill our water bottles for a mere 25 cents-what a convenience it is to have this here!

We stay on Tunitas Creek Rd for a short bit for the turn onto Lobitos Creek Cutoff; the rolling terrain on this road heads west through some farms, ranches and a few scattering of residential homes.

The 1.7 miles on Verde Rd parallels CA-1 up to Purisima Creek Rd; this road has fantastic views of the ocean below to the farmlands above.

Purisima Creek Rd runs 3.6 miles from Verde Rd up to Higgins Canyon; the rolling terrain along the first 3.6 miles goes through a gorgeous area with plenty of grassy meadows, well maintained homes and large horse and cattle ranches.

The mile climb on Higgins Canyon Rd has grades of 6-9%; it begins around the bend at the Purisima Creek staging area and winds up along the canyon with wonderful views of the valley and the surrounding mountains.

Higgins Canyon Rd drops down to the valley floor through the expansive agricultural fields back towards Main St in Half Moon Bay.

This is one of my favorite rides; don’t be afraid to ride along CA-1, there’s plenty of shoulder area and lots of places to stop along the many coastal beaches. The roads are well maintained and the scenery alone makes it all worthwhile- the baked goods at Arcangeli’s are a plus too!

Garmin Stats:
61.31 Miles with 4682′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 760′

Weather: WONDERFUL! Sunny and warm with mild NW winds. Temps ranged from the low 60’s to the mid 90’s

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Life looks better when you’re on a bicycle.
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