Bodega Bay: Coleman Valley-Bay Hill

Thursday, May 1, 2014

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Our short Bodega Bay Coastal Excursion will begin with a scenic clockwise loop from Bodega Head to CA-1. The route continues with a challenging climb up Coleman Valley Rd to Occidental followed by a descent into Freestone on Bohemian Hwy. We will head west on Bodega Hwy through the town of Bodega and cap off the ride with a climb up Bay Hill Rd.

Bodega Head is a prime spot to see the gray whales on their north bound migration in the springtime from March thru June and for their south bound migration in the fall from October to November. Today is exceptionally warm with mild west winds and clear blue skies. We spend some time watching two gray whales frolicking and spouting about in the open water. It’s pretty awesome to see-I randomly take some shots from my camera and am pleasantly surprised to be able to actually capture the whales!


Gray whale


Gray whale spouting

We exit Bodega Head on Westshore Rd; this road hugs the shoreline along Campbell Cove and Bodega Harbor pass Spud Point Marina to Bay Flat Rd.

The short pitch up Eastshore Rd leads us onto CA-1 N for the 2.4 mile run along the Sonoma Coast to Coleman Valley Rd. This short stretch on CA-1 has gorgeous ocean views to the west and open grasslands and green hills to the east.

Coleman Valley Rd begins with a 1.5 mile climb up to the top of Irish Hill; it has an average grade of 10% and steeper pitches of 12-16%! Take a moment and enjoy the spectacular views from the top of the ridge! 

The road levels off and continues along the ridge line for the next 3.2 miles on gentle rolling terrain with views of the gorgeous green hilltop meadows and forested hills and valleys. The road tops out at Sugarloaf at 1100′ with an elevation gain of 345 feet.

Coleman Valley Rd descends with a few twists through the woods and drops down onto the valley floor for a flat run along Coleman Valley Creek.

We pass through a very small ranching community with weathered old barns and farm houses. Stop and check out the Coleman Valley Ranch and the old white one-room Coleman Valley School from 1864.

Just pass the schoolhouse, the road tilts up for a steep 0.4 mile climb through the woods with an average grade of 9.3%.

At the junction, we turn left to stay on Coleman Valley Rd; the short 0.3 mile climb up through the woods to the top of the ridge has an average grade of 6%. The road quickly drops down for the next 1.5 miles into the quaint town of Occidental.

We head south on Bohemian Hwy and descend through the redwoods to the open valley below with views of the hillside vineyards and horse ranches.

Bohemian Hwy runs through the small town of Freestone; it’s 1/2 mile from one end to the other with a general store, fire station, water tower, hotel and the Wild Flour Bread.

We head west on Bodega Hwy for the next 4.3 flat gentle miles through open grasslands, cattle ranches and pasture lands. 

A quick detour off Bodega Hwy to Bodega Lane takes us to the Potter Schoolhouse; a location used in the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and the St Teresa of Avila Catholic Church.

We continue through the town of Bodega with it’s historic general store, old wooden casino building, a fire station, antique shop and cemetery.

CA-1 S leads us to Bay Hill Rd; this road takes us up and over the ridge into Bodega Bay. It’s a hilly detour away from the busy traffic on CA-1 S.

Bay Hill Rd begins with a 0.9 mile climb through the eucalyptus grove with an average grade of 5.5% and steeper pitches of 9-10%.

The road exits the woods out to the open ridge with rolling climbs for the next 1.1 miles. Look around and enjoy the stunning views of Bodega Bay and the surrounding mountains and hills!

Bay Hill Rd drops down from the ridge towards Mt Roscoe and onto CA-1.

We head north on CA-1 for the next 0.3 mile for the downhill on Eastshore Rd to Bay Flat Rd.

Westshore Rd leads us back along the shoreline of Bodega Harbor to Bodega Head.

We made a post ride stop at Spud Point Crab Co for a cup of clam chowder and a fresh crab sandwich on a soft roll-it’s a great way to end the day!

This compact ride is packed with stunning ocean vistas, green hilltop meadows, open ridge lines and forested woodlands-it’s short and sweet, come and try it!

Garmin Stats:
34.3 Miles with 2824′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1104′
Max grade: 16%
Terrain: Hilly with a few steep climbs

Weather: Sunny and hot with temps ranging from the mid 60’s to the high 80’s. Mild NNE winds with 57% humidity.

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Follow this route for today’s ride:


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