Altamont Pass-Collier Canyon

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

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This urban route goes along the city streets and trails from Contra Costa County to the beautiful back roads out to Livermore for an out and back run up Altamont Pass. The return includes a gentle climb up Collier Canyon from Livermore to Camino Tassajara. 

We take the city streets of Martinez to Morello Ave and Taylor Blvd.

The Contra Costa Canal Trail from Taylor Blvd cuts through the city of Pleasant Hill to Oak Rd; it intersects the Iron Horse Trail into Walnut Creek.

S Broadway and Rudgear Rd lead us onto Danville Blvd; this flat boulevard takes us through the cities of Walnut Creek, Alamo and Danville.

The jog along Hartz Ave and Front St take us east through the residential neighborhoods out along Sycamore Valley Rd and Camino Tassajara. The flat miles goes pass the green hills of Sycamore Valley Open Space and the displays of trees, plants and flowers at the Tassajara Nursery. 

Camino Tassajara continues east through the shopping plazas and suburban neighborhoods around Blackhawk and San Ramon. The road turns SE away from the city and heads towards the country into Tassajara. The soft golden hills are aglow with vibrant yellow wildflowers!

We turn east onto Highland Rd; this is a beautiful back road with minimal traffic. This is horse and cattle country with equestrian facilities and a scattering of ranches.

The hills and lower meadows are dotted with grazing cattle and old barns.

Highland Rd tilts up slightly for a short climb up towards Carneal Rd. 

The road continues east on flat terrain through the open valley floor with views of the rolling hills, the recently harvested hay fields and cattle ranches. The quick descent on Highland Rd drops us onto Manning Rd into Alameda County. 

Manning and N Livermore Rd takes us through the expansive Livermore Valley with fabulous views of the distant mountains.

We jog along the valley floor on May School to Dagnino, Raymond and Ames through the vast meadows and ranch lands.

We stay along the outskirts of Livermore on Dalton to N Vasco and cut through a residential neighborhood along Garaventa Ranch Rd and Altamont Creek Dr to Laughlin Rd and Northfront Rd.

Altamont Pass Rd to the summit at the Summit Garage is 3.9 miles with gentle 2-3.5% grades. Enjoy the views of the underside of I-580, the UP RR train trestle, the open cattle ranches and hilltop wind farms.

The swift descent on Altamont Pass Rd drops us to the turn on Greenville Rd. 

Greenville Rd runs along the east edge of town through the Industrial Park area.

The turn on Patterson Pass Rd take us west along the site of the Lawrence Livermore Nat’l Laboratory through another Industrial Park area into the residential neighborhoods to N Mines Rd. We stop for lunch at Safeway at the shopping plaza off First St.

We continue west on First St to Portola Ave; Portola leads us through the residential neighborhoods around north Livermore and crosses over I-580 to Las Positas College and the newer developments along the upper ridge. 

Collier Canyon Rd cuts through Livermore Valley from the south end at Portola Ave in Alameda County to the north end at Highland Rd in Contra Costa County. The gentle rolling terrain goes through a horse and cattle ranching community.

Grazing cattle and horses dot the landscape along with old farm equipment and weathered wooden barns.

The canyon has several horse boarding facilities with large paddocks and pastoral lands.

At the intersection with Carneal Rd, Collier Canyon climbs gently for about a mile with grades of 2-4.5% up to the old water tower and windmill. The fast descent drops us onto Highland Rd.

At Highland Rd, we reverse our way back out to Camino Tassjara pass the equine boarding and training facilities to the suburban neighborhoods around Blackhawk.

We meander our way back to Danville Blvd and take S Broadway to Newell Ave.

We hop onto the Iron Horse Trail and continue on the Canal Trail back to Martinez and take the Glacier and Arnold back to Holiday Highlands Park.

This is a fairly flat ride with gentle climbs up Altamont Pass and Collier Canyon. It’s a good way to get in some decent miles with a fair mix of urban and country landscapes. You can easily add or subtract miles anywhere along the route-get out and try it!

Thanks to Wyatt  for another great tandem ride!

Garmin Stats:
88.31 Miles with 2587′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 855′
Max grade: 7%
Terrain: Flat to rolling

Weather: Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the mid 50’s to the mid 70’s. Breezy SW AM winds and breezy NW afternoon winds with 67% humidity.

Click here to view the interactive route map & profile


Follow this route for today’s ride:



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