Healdsburg: Rockpile Rumble

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

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Today’s ride heads NW for a tour around Dry Creek Valley wine region and the smaller Rockpile wine appellation that sits above Lake Sonoma. This out and back route is fairly simple to follow with only a few turns and includes one very challenging climb up Rockpile Rd.

We exit the parking lot to Healdsburg Ave and head north on Dry Creek Rd for 10.5 flat to rolling miles through the gorgeous Dry Creek Valley wine region. The valley floor is covered with the changing colors of autumn!

Taken from http://www.wdcv.com/dry-creek-valley/index.php

Renowned for its idyllic undisturbed beauty, Dry Creek Valley is home to over 9,000 acres of vineyards that carpet the intimate 16-mile long x 2-mile wide valley, floor to hillside. With a grape growing history going back 140 years – one of the longest in California – producing premium wine grapes is core to this region. In fact, the valley boasts one of the densest concentrations of Old Vine Zinfandel in the world.

Dry Creek Rd ends as you enter Lake Sonoma Recreation Area and becomes Skaggs Springs Rd at the Lake Sonoma Visitors Center. The park is closed due to the current Federal shutdown but there is a porta-pottie located near the entrance at the end of the bridge.

We stay on Skaggs Springs Rd for 1.8 miles up to the junction; the climb has gradient ranges of 7-9% with some steep pitches of 10-11%. There is virtually no traffic due to the park closure, so we pretty much have the road to ourselves!

At the junction, we continue straight on Rockpile Rd and cross Lake Sonoma Bridge to begin the long steep climbs along the mountain ridge towards the many hiking trailheads and secluded campsites.

The steep climbs have steady double-digit grades of 11-13%! Don’t forget to look around and enjoy the views of the surrounding mountain peaks, Lake Sonoma and Warm Springs Dam!

We cross a few cattle guards before reaching the Rockpile Viticultural Area; the steep climbing doesn’t let up with grades of 11-13% followed by short flatter  stretches, 8% grade never felt so good!

These steep mountain hillsides are Sonoma County’s most rugged and spectacular appellation. There are no wineries located up here-the land is purely home to the 160 acres of planted vines. With Pritchett Peaks looming in the distance, this arduous climb up from the northern border of Dry Creek Valley has its rewards where natural beauty can be seen with no boundaries!

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The paved road ends and gives way to loose gravel-we’ve arrived at our lunch stop! Take the time to enjoy the fresh mountain air, the views of Buck Mountain and the gorgeous forested ridgelines!

We reverse our way back on Rockpile Rd to the Lake Sonoma Bridge crossing back down to Skaggs Springs Rd.

At the Visitors Center, we cross the concrete barriers to get some much needed cold drinks from the outdoor refreshment center.

We exit the park and continue along the flats through Dry Creek Valley back to Healdsburg.

On Grove St, I spotted a house with full-blown Halloween decorations, ghoulishly delightful! We hop onto the Foss Creek Trail back to the parking lot and stop along the way to check out the outdoor sculptures.

Get out and explore the roads less-traveled-get surprised, you’ll be glad you did it! Adventure is out there for the taking!

Garmin Stats:
52.42 Miles with 4236′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 2048′
Max grade: 13%
Terrain: Extremely Hilly

Weather: Fantastic! Sunny, warm and breezy! Temps ranged from the high 50’s to the mid 80’s. NNW Winds with 45% humidity

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Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.
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Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:

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