Sunday, March 9, 2014
Today’s ride heads north-east along the remote country roads to Parkfield, “The Earthquake Capital of the World”. This route takes the roads less traveled through the gorgeous vineyards, horse ranches and rural lands with minimal to no traffic.
We head north on Airport Rd; the first few miles goes through the open flat lands along the Municipal Airport, the Juvenile Correctional Facility and some industrial businesses.
Airport Rd continues on flat to gentle rolling terrain along part of the San Miguel Wine Tasting Trail through the rolling hillside vineyards and wineries to the dry river crossing over Estrella River.
We head NW and continue on the San Miguel Wine Tasting Trail on Estrella Rd. The flat terrain takes us gently around the vineyards, expansive rural ranch lands and horse facilities below Lowes Canyon.
This area offers fabulous mountain views of the Santa Lucia Range.
From Estrella Rd, we take N River Rd towards San Miguel.
The 1.3 miles on Indian Valley Rd begins on a very short section of rough road and dramatically changes to smooth pavement towards the turn onto Vineyard Canyon Rd.
Vineyard Canyon Rd is a gorgeous remote stretch of road that goes up and over the canyon for 16.8 miles. It has fantastic views of the mountains and hills around the Diablo Range. At 1.5 miles into Vineyard Canyon, we cross the County line from San Luis Obispo into Monterey County.
The false flat terrain on this canyon road goes on for 12.8 miles with an average grade of 1.7%. The canyon has a scattering of cattle ranches with a few stock ponds and wide green open pasture lands.
The landscape changes to a drier desert like environment as we head further east.
We come upon a few more cattle ranches with colorful weathered red barns and wooden corrals.
This area is also home to an alpaca farm and sheep ranch.
Around mile marker 10.5, the road tilts up for a 1.2 mile climb towards Chalome Hills with an average grade of 8.75% and steep pitches of 9-12%.
There is a false summit after mile marker 11.5, the road levels out for about half a mile towards the entrance to a small gated rural community.
The next half mile up towards the gap at the top of Chalome Hills has an average grade of 6%.
The sweeping descent takes us down into the other side of the canyon below Middle Mountain.
Vineyard Canyon continues east along the San Andreas Fault on the Pacific Plate through the open meadows and pastor lands around the scenic Chalome Valley and hills.
This tranquil valley is dotted with some vineyards, cattle and horse ranches and rural homes. There is also the usual scene of old abandoned vehicles and farming equipment scattered around these acreage properties.
We cross the white Parkfield Bridge over Little Chalome Creek and enter the North American Plate of the San Andreas Fault into Parkfield. The posted road sign shows the town’s population at 18.
We stop at the V6 Ranch Parkfield Cafe for lunch; the cafe is only open from Thursday to Sunday, so plan your ride out here accordingly. Michael and I shared a Bacon Burger with fries-it was both very tasty and juicy.
Take the time to “walk around town”, it’s a blast from the past!
We exit Parkfield and reverse our way back on Vineyard Canyon Rd.
The climb up the east side of Chalome Hills on Vineyard Canyon Rd is 1.6 miles with an average grade of 8.35% and steeper pitches of 10-12%.
The fun descent takes us back onto the open canyon to Indian Valley Rd.
The rolling climbs on Indian valley Rd leads us to the turn onto Cross Canyon Rd.
Cross Canyon Rd runs east below the Chalome Hills around Lowes Canyon. It’s a beautiful part of the San Miguel Wine Tasting Trail with miles and miles of vineyards and estate wineries.
The views are spectacular; from the golden rolling hills to the neatly lined rows of vineyards to the open plains and meadows!
The rolling climbs take us from the vineyards around Lowes Canyon towards the vineyards and wineries around Ranchito Canyon.
The wine trail continues on Pleasant Rd with nut orchards and vineyards for as far as the eye can see!
Estrella Rd winds its way through the wine country between Ranchito Canyon and Hog Canyon.
We cross the Estrella River onto Jardine Rd. The flat terrain on Jardine Rd leads us out from the vineyards into a rural neighborhood with horse ranches and a golf course.
Dry Creek Rd is a very bumpy road with grand views of the valley! You can see the old-time war machines and planes at the Estrella Warbird Museum.
The turn onto Aiport Rd takes us back to the Wine Country RV Park.
This is a wonderful ride along the quiet scenic country back roads-put this route on your list for the next time out to Paso Robles! The handful of vehicles we did encounter on Vineyard Canyon were on their way to and from lunch at the Parkfield Cafe.
70.90 Miles with 4369′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 2506′
Max grade: 12%
Terrain: Rolling hills with a couple of climbs
Weather: Overcast skies with some afternoon sun. Temps ranging from the high 40’s to the low 80’s. SW winds with 71% humidity
Follow this route for today’s ride: