Napa Valley-Franz Valley-St Helena

Friday, September 26, 2014

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This route starts at the south end of the picturesque Napa Valley from Yountville to the north end at Calistoga. It cuts across the valley and continues NW on CA-128 into Sonoma County for a gorgeous roll through remote Knights Valley and Franz Valley with a climb up to the summit of Chalk Mountain. The course drops down along Porter Creek to Calistoga Rd for a beautiful climb up St Helena Rd followed by a dazzling descent on Spring Mountain Rd to St Helena. 

The ride begins in Yountville at Yountville Park on Lincoln Ave. You can see the early morning hot air balloons are in flight over the valley and take a moment to check out the Pioneer Cemetery at the north end of the park.

We head north out of town on Yount Mill Rd; this is a quiet lane that jogs under the woodlands around the vineyards and ranches along the foothill of Yountville Hills.

At the end of the road, we continue north on Hwy 29 for the next 3.1 miles; this busy road runs through the estate wineries and vineyards along the heart of Napa Valley.

CA-128 cuts across the valley through Rutherford and winds around the vineyards along Conn Creek to Silverado Trail.

We stay north on Silverado Trail for the next 13.3 miles; the scenery along the valley doesn’t change much from the estate wineries and vineyards to the scattering of rural homes and ranches sandwiched between the rugged Palisades and forested Sonoma mountains on each side.

Lincoln Ave leads us through downtown Calistoga to our stop at the Fast & Easy Gas Station off Foothill Rd/CA-128.

Foothill Rd/CA-128 leads us out of town towards Tubbs Lane with fantastic views of Mt St Helena!

CA-128 continues north with minimal traffic through the scenic ranches, wineries and vineyards.

The shaded climb up to the Sonoma County line is 0.8 mile with an average grade of 5%.

CA-128 rolls down into Knights Valley; a beautiful wine region with a few vineyards, rural ranches and open meadows and grand views of Mt St Helena and its other mountain peaks.

The turn on Franz Valley Rd takes us through the flat open pastoral valley meadows and vineyards for the first 2.5 miles.

The road gently winds up through the woods on gentle rolling terrain with gradient ranges of 3-5% to a small residential community with hillside vineyards around the lower mountain at Devils Kitchen.

Franz Valley Rd becomes a single narrow road as it steadily winds up under the gorgeous woodlands to the mountain top vineyard at the summit of Chalk Mountain. It’s a 1.4 mile climb with an average grade of 7% and steep section with pitches of 9-12%.

Enjoy the mountain top views!

Franz valley Rd drops down from the mountain to the wildlife preserve at Safari West on Porter Creek Rd.

We head east on Porter Creek Rd to Calistoga Rd; this road can get fairly busy, it’s a thoroughfare for getting to and from Sonoma County to Napa County. After passing Camp Newman, use caution as the road narrows and the shoulder area disappears.

Calistoga Rd crosses over Porter Creek for a climb up to the summit at Kings Hill; it’s 0.6 mile with an average grade of 9.7% and steep pitches maxing out at 11%. This road has no shoulder area-use caution!

Calistoga Rd cuts through the gap with a steep drop towards Gates Canyon; the road descends on wonderful smooth pavement to St Helena Rd.

St Helena Rd stretches 6.8 beautiful stair-step miles along Mark West Creek from Calistoga Rd to the summit of Diamond Mountain in Napa County. The road begins with 3 miles of gentle rolling terrain through the vineyards and scattered rural ranches along the lower creek.

The bridge crossing over the creek leads us into the wooded canyon out to the open meadows of the Sonoma Land Trust protected working ranches and farms.

At mile 47.1, St Helena Rd winds up and down through the wooded canyon with a couple of mile long ascents with an average grade of 5% to the east end of Mark West Creek.

The road drops down to Neal Creek Rd and kicks up for the next mile with an average grade of 7.6% and steep pitches of 11-14% as it snakes out of the canyon.

At Pine Mountain Vineyards, the road eases down to lesser grades of 5-7% for the next 0.6 mile up to the Napa County line and to the summit of Diamond Mountain at Schweiger Vineyards.

The road name changes to Spring Mountain Rd on the twisty descent down through the dense woodlands and hillside vineyards along York Creek to St Helena.

We meander through the residential neighborhoods and make our way out to Hwy 29 on Grayson Ave.

The 7.5 miles along Hwy 29 from St Helena to Yountville takes us through the valley vineyards and wineries. The section of road between Zinfandel Ln and Rutherford is rough and bumpy with a nasty RR track crossing. Be advised-the local sign suggests for bicyclists to get off and walk across-use caution and watch for traffic!

We cross the valley on Washington St and return to Yountville Park under looming dark gray skies and loud claps of thunder with rain-perfect timing!

This scenic route takes you along some of the remote country back roads from Napa Valley to Franz Valley and St Helena. You’ll enjoy the quiet calm of the shaded climbs through the woodlands to the summits of Chalk and Diamond Mountains! There will be traffic riding through Northern California’s famous Napa Valley on Silverado Trail and Hwy 29 but don’t let that deter you; this wine region provides some of the best cycling around the Bay Area! Don’t miss Bunny-Foo Foo at Hall’s Winery & Vineyards on Hwy 29-she’s a work of art!

Garmin Stats:
66.07 Miles with 4157′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1927′
Max grade: 13%
Terrain: Moderately Hilly

Weather: Sunny and warm with partly cloudy skies in the afternoon. Temps ranging from the mid 50’s to the high 70’s. NW winds with 100% humidity

Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile

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Follow this route for today’s ride:

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