Paso Robles: Cholame Valley-Parkfield-Vineyard Canyon

Sunday, October 26, 2014

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Click here to watch a short video of the ride

Day 2: This counter clockwise loop heads east on CA-46 through Shandon Valley for a stop at the James Dean Memorial in Chalome. The route turns north for a quiet run along the open Cholame Valley to the Earthquake Capital town of Parkfield for lunch at the Parkfield Café. The second half of the route climbs out of Vineyard Canyon and descends through the valley to Indian Valley. The rolling climbs on Cross Canyon Rd cuts across the valley to Estrella and Airport Rd.

We exit the RV Park onto Airport Rd.

The terrain on CA-46 E is fairly flat; the road has an ample shoulder area with a foot wide rumble strip-running into it can be quite a jarring experience! CA-46 takes you through the wineries and vineyards around Paso Robles’ East Side.

All traffic comes to a halt for about 10 minutes as a helicopter flies over in the far distance transporting and pulling cables across transmission towers.

The gentle flat terrain on CA-46 E continues pass the vineyards and wineries to the Estrella River crossing towards the open fields and meadows around Gruenhagen Flat.

Current road work has closed the eastbound lane on CA-46 E; the road shifts to share lanes with the westbound traffic. The road narrows for the next 6+ flat miles through the agricultural farmlands around Shandon Valley to McMillan Canyon Rd.

CA-46 E continues along the beautiful valley with magnificent views of the surrounding Cholame Hills and mountain ridges. The road crosses over the dry Cholame Creek through the pastoral fields around Shandon.

We make a brief stop at the Shandon Roadside Rest Area; it’s a safe and clean place to refuel.

CA-46 E turns up from the valley and heads NE to out next stop at the James Dean Memorial located adjacent to the Jack Ranch Café in Cholame. The official dedication James Dean Memorial Junction is located further down the road at the junction to CA-41.

We stay on CA-46 E for another 0.9 mile to the turn onto Cholame Valley Rd.

Cholame Valley Rd follows the dry Cholame Creek through the beautiful starkness of Cholame Valley. Traffic is non-existent and it’s deafly silent; it’s something we rarely get to hear-peace and quiet!

Cholame Valley Rd travels through the remote cattle ranches and crosses into Monterey County. Take a minute to enjoy the fabulous views of Cholame Hills and Table Mountain!

After 5.1 miles, the road curves to the left and name changes to Cholame Rd. Cholame Rd continues along the valley flats through a few cattle ranches and open farmlands.

At the dry creek crossing, the road gently rises from the valley for a climb up through the woodlands around Cholame Hills before dropping down to the Cholame truss bridge over Little Cholame Creek.

Cholame Rd continues for another half mile through the back country towards Parkfield.

We cross the Parkfield bridge across the San Andreas Fault along the North American Plate on 1st St/Parkfield Coalinga Rd to the Earthquake Capital town of Parkfield. While crossing the creek, we spot a small herd of wild pigs scuttling across the creek bed.

We stop for lunch at the Parkfield Café.

The resident dogs certainly know their place!

We exit Parkfield and cross the San Andreas Fault to the Pacific Plate onto Vineyard Canyon Rd.

Vineyard Canyon continues NW for 4.4 miles through the open ranches and pastoral lands along the scenic valley with a scattering of cattle and horse ranches and rural homes.

At mile 44.1, Vineyard Canyon exits the valley with a climb up the east side of Cholame Hills; it’s 1.5 miles with an average grade of 8.9% and steep sections of 10-11% grades.

In the middle, the road eases up with lesser grades of 5-7% for a short 2/10ths of a mile.

The climb kicks back up again for the last half mile up the summit at 2611′ elevation.

Stop at the top and enjoy the hilltop views!

Vineyard Canyon Rd drops down with a small hump before swiftly picking up speed for a fun descent into the amazingly gorgeous open canyon. The road continues on flat terrain through the remote ranches and farmhouses.

The dry landscape changes to a vibrant green as we head further west and cross back into San Luis Obispo County.

Vineyard Canyon Rd continues on with fantastic views of the valleys and canyons to Indian Valley Rd.

The rolling terrain on Indian Valley Rd leads us along the outskirts of San Miguel 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 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 to Estrella Rd with nut orchards and vineyards for as far as the eye can see!

We head south on Airport Rd; the rolling terrain goes through the hillside vineyards with wonderful views of the valley.

We make a brief stop at the Historic Estrella Adobe Church/Cemetery-it’s a very quiet place to be with fantastic views.

Airport Rd leads us straight back to the Wine Country RV Resort.

This is a fabulous route; once you exit CA-46, you have 50+ miles of riding along beautiful quiet country back roads with virtually no traffic! We always run blinking daylights for both the front and rear-we take responsibility on our part to be safe and to be seen!

Garmin Stats:
75.04 Miles with 3284′ of elevation gain

Max elevation: 2224′
Max grade: 11%
Terrain: Flat-rolling with one steep climb

Weather: Sunny and warm with partly cloudy skies. Temps ranged from the low 50’s to the mid 70’s. NW Winds with 82% humidity

Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile


Follow this route for today’s ride:



  1. I stumbled across your blog here while searching for info about biking on Cholame Rd…it’s kind of a goal of mine and it looks like this was a great ride! Were all the roads paved? What kind of gear did you have with you?


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