CoCo County North Loop

Sunday, April 26, 2015

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This urban ride takes you for a clockwise loop around north CoCo County. Head south into Lafayette to Mt Diablo Blvd and take Hidden Valley Rd to the St Stephens Trail into Orinda.  Continue north on San Pablo Dam Rd along San Pablo Reservoir to El Sobrante and climb Castro Ranch Rd to Pinole Valley. Stay north through Hercules and Rodeo out to Crockett and climb the infamous McEwen Rd before dropping down into Franklin Canyon for the return to Martinez.

The route takes Arnold Dr and crosses over Hwy 4 on Glacier Dr to Center Ave and Vine Hill Way. Morello Ave goes through the residential neighborhoods from Martinez to Pleasant Hill.

Head south on Taylor Blvd; this busy main thoroughfare is a very utilitarian way to get from Pleasant Hill down into Lafayette with great pavement and wide shoulder areas. At Grayson Rd, Taylor Blvd gradually ascends with gentle grades of 3-5% up towards Dinosaur Hill Park before dropping down to the stop light at Withers Ave.

Taylor levels out for the next half mile plus towards the Pleasant Hill Rd interchange and kicks up to 7-10% grades for the 0.7 mile climb up to the traffic light at Rancho View Dr.

Descend Pleasant Hill Rd, continue west on Mt Diablo Blvd through the business and commercial district around Lafayette to Acalanes Rd.

Turn left on Acalanes and continue on Hidden Valley Rd to St Stephens Dr.

Continue on the St Stephens Trail into Orinda and make your way around the town square to Camino Pablo.

The road name changes to San Pablo Dam Rd as you cross Wildcat Canyon/bear Creek Rd. The rolling terrain takes you along the west edge of San Pablo Reservoir.

The descent into El Sobrante leads to the short steep climb up Castro Ranch Rd through the Carriage Hills neighborhood to Alhambra Valley.

Turn left onto Pinole Valley Rd takes you through Pinole‘s residential neighborhood and shopping centers to San Pablo Ave.

Continue on San Pablo Ave out to Hercules and Rodeo. This section of the route has lots of traffic going in and out of the shopping centers and certainly around the I-80 freeway interchanges-use caution!

San Pablo Ave continues north with climbs up to the refineries and Cummings Skyway.

At the high point, the road drops down towards Crockett with views of the Carquinez-Zampa Bridge. The road name changes to Pomona St when you enter the town of Crockett. The climb on Pomona takes you pass the Veterans War Memorial and onto Carquinez Scenic Dr.

Carquinez Scenic Dr winds above the Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline with gorgeous views of Benicia and Carquinez Strait. Carquinez Scenic Dr drops down towards Port Costa with views of the rolling hills.

At the intersection with Canyon Lake Dr, the road tilts up for a short section around the reservoir with views of Port Costa’s residential roof tops and of the surrounding hills. The road drops down very quickly to McEwen Rd; you have to shift to your lower gear before the immediate right turn!

The climb up McEwen is a grind-the first 0.4 section is on a narrow stretch of two lane road with very steep grades of 12-15%!

The second section begins on the approach to the eucalyptus trees at the No Dumping sign; it’s a shaded 0.3 mile section with lesser grades of 9-11%.

The third section leads you out under from the canopy of trees to the open clearing with views of tree-lined ridge. It’s 0.6 mile to the summit with an average grade of 3%.

At the summit, the road drops down and over a small bump to the cattle ranch and steel barn.

McEwen Rd descends very smoothly around the sweet little bends and straightens out to the bottom at Franklin Canyon Rd.

Descend Franklin Canyon to Alhambra Ave.

Turn right on Alhambra Ave to John Muir Rd and Vine Hill Way.

The short climb on Vine Hill Way has an average grade of 7.4%.

The slight jog on Morello takes you back on Vine Hill Way and Center Ave. Cross over Hwy 4 on Glacier and drop down Arnold to Fig Tree Ln.

This semi rural-urban ride hits some fairly good city hills around north Contra Costa County; from Pleasant Hill to Lafayette and Orinda and from El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules, Rodeo, Crockett and Port Costa to Martinez. Hit the city streets and go-local!

Garmin Stats:
48.83 Miles with 3281′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 567′
Max grade: 15%
Terrain: Moderately hilly with a steep climb

Weather: Sunny and warm with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the low 50’s to the high 60’s with SW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

CoCo County North Loop

Follow this route for today’s ride:

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