Healdsburg: Sweetwater Springs-Duncans Mills

Friday, October 11, 2013

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Today’s ride heads west for a climb up Sweetwater Springs Rd to Armstrong Woods and continues SW to Monte Rio for a jaunt along the Russian River on Moscow Rd to  Duncans Mills. The return to Healdsburg follows River Rd through the Russian River Valley to Westside and Eastside Rds.

We begin by taking Westside Rd and riding through the gloriously beautiful vineyards around Dry Creek Valley. The overcast skies heighten the spectacular autumn colors on the vines!

The smooth flat rolling terrain leads us through the valley floor for 5.7 miles with wondrous views of the old barns and scenic hillsides.

Sweetwater Springs Rd is 10.2 miles long from Westside Rd to the opposite end at Armstrong Woods. This road sits below Coyote Knolls to the north and Denner Ridge and Gilder Ridge to the south.

The turn onto Sweetwater Springs Rd takes us pass the rolling vineyards of J Rochioli Winery, the fall colors are just visually stunning! The gentle terrain on this single lane road continues through the oak studded hilltop ridges to the top at Sweetwater Ranch. Take a moment to enjoy the deep green hills and forests!

The road drops down into the shaded redwood groves and forests and runs along Porter Creek with multiple creek crossings. You can see a few homes and ranches scattered along the side of the road as you climb out of the trees to the open clearing area.

This quiet secluded road goes on through miles of forests with no traffic, the sheer silence and calm brings much peace to the mind and body! It’s absolutely gorgeous back here!

Sweetwater Springs continues to weaves through the dense tangle of trees under soft dappled lighting with a winding ascent up the shoulder of Mount Jackson. This is a steep 1.2 mile climb with gradient ranges of 16-20%!

The grades eases up for a short bit as you make your way around the fruit orchard and mountain top ranch up to the top of the ridge. The scenery is magnificent with awesome views of the dense forests of the Coastal Range stretching out towards the Pacific!

The road descends into the woods followed by one more climb up the backside of the mountain.

The steep twisty bumpy descent quickly drops us down to the former site of the Great Eastern Quicksilver Mine, this abandoned place was an old mercury mine founded in the late 1800’s.

Sweetwater Springs continues through a gorgeous grove of towering redwoods along Sweetwater Creek with homes nestled in the woods along with a few apple orchards.

The flats on Armstrong Woods Rd roughly follow Fife Creek into the busy town of Guerneville.

We head SW on Hwy 116 W; this flat road goes through the beautiful redwoods pass the small towns along the lower end of the Russian River with moderate traffic on good pavement and shoulder.

We enter Monte Rio to cross the old railroad bridge over the Russian River to Main St and Moscow Rd.

Moscow Rd is a quiet shaded back road through the redwoods, the flat terrain goes pass the old cottages and summer river front homes in a park like setting.

Our lunch stop is at the Gold Coast Coffee & Bakery in Duncans Mills; they have a rear patio wooden deck area with ample outdoor seating. Their butter horn pastry is absolutely delicious-I bought an extra one to carry back in our pack.

If you have time, check out the Depot Musuem, the State of CA Dept of Parks and Recs building; it’s housed in the freight shed of the historic railroad depot. Cross Hwy 116 and walk around the Country Store, art galleries, antique and gift shops too.

For the return to Healdsburg, we continue on Hwy 116 E back through the redwoods along the Russian River to Monte Rio and Guerneville.

From Guerneville, we follow the flow of the Russian River along River Rd; this road passes through the grand redwood forests out towards the many vacation lodges and inns around Rio Nido. It continues through the gorgeous Korbel vineyards along the Russian River Valley to the next small town of Hacienda.

The short climb up Westside Rd takes us on rolling terrain on the SE edge of Black Mountain through the valley vineyards.

We cross the Wohler Bridge to Eastside Rd; the fantastic fall colors of the vines are tinged with hues of yellow, red and orange-WOW!

Eastside Rd has been repaved and it’s great for cycling! The smooth road goes on for miles and miles through the expansive vineyards along the Russian River Valley.

The turn on Old Redwood Hwy takes us from the outer edge of Windsor to Healdsburg Ave for the Russian River bridge crossing. We jog around the city streets of Healdsburg back to the public parking lot on North & Vine St.

This is one of the most beautiful scenic rides around Sonoma County! You get to enjoy the fall colors through the vineyards, the gorgeous climbs up the canyon through the dense woods out to the towering redwoods and out along the Russian River. If you’ve never been up Sweetwater Springs Rd, the slight discomfort on the steep climbs has its rewards! Get out there and ride it at least once, the natural beauty of the surrounding area is spectacular!

Garmin Stats:
53.29 Miles with 2582′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1099′
Max grade: 20%
Terrain: Flat to rolling with one steep climb

Weather: Great! Early morning fog with overcast skies turning to brilliant sunshine. Temps ranged from the low 40’s to the high 60’s. NW winds with 93% humidity

I’ve decided to live this life for some time to come. The freedom and simple beauty is just too good to pass up.


Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:

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