Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Today’s ride goes for a clockwise loop around the foothills of Mt Diablo from Walnut Creek to Marsh Creek Rd in Clayton for the beautiful climb up Morgan Territory Rd to the Regional Preserve. It drops down into the Livermore Valley for the jaunt along Manning to Highland and Camino Tassajara. The route continues along the flats on Sycamore Valley to Danville Blvd followed by a short run along the Iron Horse and Canal Trails.
I exit Heather Farm Park and head east on the Canal Trail for the first few miles to Treat Blvd in Concord.
Treat Blvd is one of the major thoroughfares from Walnut Creek into Concord; it has a wide shoulder area with views of the golden hills around Lime Ridge.
I make my way around the quiet Turtle Creek residential neighborhoods to Pine Hollow Rd in Clayton.
Main St runs through the Old Downtown area of Clayton with The Grove anchoring a corner of this small community.
I head south on Marsh Creek Rd through Clayton’s neighborhoods, schools and parks to the outskirts of town.
Clayton is located around the foothills of Mt Diablo with grand views of the mountain-WOW! The road exits through town pass the ranches and farms towards Rodie’s Feed.
Marsh Creek Rd has three small climbs leading up to the summit at Divide Reservoir; it’s 0.9 mile with gradient ranges of 7-10%. CAUTION-watch traffic, there is no shoulder area!
The sweeping descent on Marsh Creek Rd leads me to the turn onto Morgan Territory Rd.
Morgan Territory Rd runs 14.7 miles from Marsh Creek Rd to the opposite end at Manning Rd in Livermore. The climb up to the Regional Preserve from Marsh Creek is 9.2 miles. The road begins on flat terrain with superb views of Mt Diablo!
The lower section of Morgan Territory goes through “horse country” with multiple estate horse ranches and training facilities.
The road continues on gentle terrain around the foothills of Diablo through the farms and ranches to the open meadows and drops down to the cattle ranch with the wooden red barn.
From this point, the road changes from a two lane road to a single narrow lane. It winds its way through the canyon with several narrow bridge creek crossings. The road gradually tilts up with grades of 5-8%.
At the “Entering Morgan Territory Regional Preserve” sign, the climbing continues under the gorgeous shaded woodlands with dappled sunlight.
The road snakes in and out of the shade with views of the dense woods surrounding Black Hills.
The last couple of miles on the upper section of Morgan Territory leading to the summit of Black Hills have numerous switchbacks with steep 9-15% grades!
As you near the top, the road drops down for a short bit followed by a steep climb out of the woods to the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve.
I stop for lunch at the Regional Preserve.
Morgan Territory Rd continues for another 0.4 mile to the actual summit with grades of 4.5-6%.
The road runs along the top of the ridge through a small ranching community with acreage homes and ranchlands. On the downhill, look for Elmo waving goodbye!
This descent can get very fast-proceed with caution as there are many blind turns on this narrow single lane road!
The views dropping down into Livermore are phenomenal!
The road straightens out for the flat stretch through to Manning Rd.
I take the flats on Manning to Highland Rd.
I continue west on Highland Rd; it’s a quiet back road with minimal traffic on gentle rolling terrain through the open space with rolling soft golden hills and a few wooden barns.
Highland Rd leads to the intersection at Carneal Rd with wonderful views of the freshly plowed hay fields and the open pastoral lands surrounding the horse ranches.
The road continues on for the next three miles through the back country with horse ranches, equine training arenas and hillsides dotted with grazing cattle, horses and old wooden barns.
I head north on Camino Tassajara; this road has a fair amount of traffic with a minimal shoulder area-watch traffic!
Camino Tassajara rounds the bend and enters the suburbs through the residential neighborhoods surrounding Blackhawk. I stay on Camino Tassajara to Sycamore Valley Rd and jog around the city streets into Danville.
The flats on Danville Blvd take me back to Walnut Creek to S BRoadway.
I hop onto the Iron Horse trail off Newell and connect with the Canal Trail back to Heather Farm Park.
I started off my morning with the intention of meeting up for a club ride out to the Pt Reyes Lighthouse in Marin County, but a traffic jam on and around the San Rafael Bridge made me turn around and stay inland. Even though the temperature was hotter than I like, this is still a wonderful ride! It’s front loaded with climbing and gives you plenty of miles in the back end to relax and spin along the flats! For me, as long as I’m outdoors-any ride is always a good ride!
52.08 Miles with 2829′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1979′
Max grade: 15%
Terrain: A few hills with one long climb
Weather: Sunny & HOT! Temps ranged from 68F to an afternoon high of 109F! NW winds with 21% humidity.
Follow this route for today’s ride: