Avila Beach: Arroyo Grande-Lopez Lake-Hi Mountain-Pismo Beach

Monday, January 20, 2014

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

It’s a beautiful morning and we’re ready for another ride! Today we’re heading east through the town of Arroyo Grande towards Lopez Valley to Lopez Lake and Hi Mountain Rd. The return route includes stops at Pismo Beach and Best Western’s Shore Cliff Lookout Point.

We begin with a short climb out of the canyon on Avila Beach Rd to Shell Beach Rd and Price St. The 5 miles stretch through the coastal beach towns of Avila Beach, Shell Beach and Pismo Beach is fairly flat with gorgeous ocean views.

At Ocean View Ave, near the US-101 on ramp, we make an immediate right and left to get onto the path that parallels the highway. The path exits onto 5 Cities Dr; this road takes us pass the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets, fast food chain restaurants and local coffee shops and cafes.

We continue on El Camino Real, this frontage road that parallels US-101 connects us to N Oak Park Blvd and W Branch St. The climb up W Branch goes pass the Oak Park Plaza Shopping Center and another huge shopping mall with a Regal 10 Cinema, Walmart and other big box stores. The descent drops us down onto E Branch St to the Historic Village of Arroyo Grande. The old historic buildings house an array of antique and specialty stores and restaurants.

The turn on Huasna Rd takes us pass the residential neighborhoods of Arroyo Grande to the rich agricultural farmlands to the east, the road roughly follows the Grande Creek Arroyo to Lopez Dr.

Lopez Dr continues 8.1 miles NE along Lopez Valley on gentle rolling terrain through the vineyards, citrus orchards and cattle ranches towards Biddle Park.

The road winds its way around the blue waters of Lake Lopez below Tar Springs Ridge.

We cross the low waters of Lopez Dam to Hi Mountain Rd into Clapboard Canyon. The surrounding marshes and wetlands are awfully dry due to the lack of rain in California.

Hi Mountain Rd sits along the southern edge of the Los Padres National Forest in the sheltered valleys along Arroyo Grande Creek. The road gently twists its way along the naturally beautiful canyons through the picturesque oak woodlands with gorgeous views of the Santa Lucia Range for 6.2 miles.

This quiet country back road leads us through the wooded hills with many vineyards, horse ranches, farm houses and open pastoral fields.

The last quarter mile up to the end of the paved road on Hi Mountain is steep with gradient ranges of 14-17%!

This is the turnaround point for us-you need a four-wheeler to get through the bumpy gravel road to the Condor Peak Lookout on the other side. We descend Hi Mountain Rd back to Lopez Dr.

At Lopez Dr, we enter Lopez Lake Recreation Area for the climb up Marina Rd to our lunch stop at the Marina. We always bring our own lunch; it’s usually a PBJ sandwich on wheat, a banana, an apple and a bag of salted nuts. On hot days, we would buy a soda and maybe a bag of salty chips.

We exit Lopez Lake and reverse our way on Lopez Dr through Lopez Valley.

The climb on Orcutt Rd takes us pass Lopez Reservoir up towards the vineyards to Tiffany Ranch Rd.

We head NW on Corbett Canyon Rd for the next 2 miles; it’s a series of short climbs and descents through the open valley with acres and acres of rolling hillside vineyards. The road drops us down onto CA-227 N/Carpenter Canyon Rd.

The short half mile on CA-227 N takes us pass the horse ranch and arenas at Greengate Ranch.

The rolling descent on Price Canyon to Pismo Beach is almost 5 miles long; CAUTION-the first 1.7 miles on this stretch of road has no shoulder area.

At Price St, we turn onto Pomeroy St and make our way down to the Pismo Beach Pier. This place is packed with a lot of people; on the pier, laying out on the beach and walking around town. We do a quick tour around town and get back onto Price St.

Further down the road on Price St, we make another stop at the Lookout Point at the Best Western Plus Shore Cliff Lodge. It’s a fabulous place to take in the spectacular expansive ocean views!

We stay on Price St to Shell Beach and continue on Shell Beach Rd to Avila beach Rd. We drop down into the canyon to Ontario Rd back to the KOA campground.

This coastal climate is wonderful; warm and sunny with the refreshing scent of salty ocean air-it was another fantastic day on the bike!

Garmin Stats:
55.76 Miles with 3009′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1161′
Max grade: 17%
Terrain: Hilly

Weather: FANTASTIC! Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the mid 40’s in the morning to the low 70’s in the afternoon. Mild NW winds with 16% humidity

Be in love with your life, every minute of it!

Click here to view the interactive route map & profile


Follow this route for today’s ride:


One Comment

  1. Thank for sharing your biking trips. You inspire me to get out there! –Susanne

    Susanne, You’re welcome! Riding around the Central Coast of CA is fabulous! Nancy


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