Mendonoma: Duncans Mills-Jenner-Fort Ross-Cazadero

Sunday, July 12, 2015

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Day 2-Ride along the Russian River on CA-116 W from Duncans Mills to Jenner on Hwy 1 N. Travel along the gorgeous Sonoma Coast to Fort Ross State Park and continue on Fort Ross Rd for the challenging steep climb up through the redwoods into Cazadero. Roll along Austin Creek on Cazadero Hwy back onto CA-116 to Duncans Mills.

Historic Duncans Mills: Located four miles inland from the Sonoma Coast, the tiny hamlet of Duncans Mills (pop. 175) occupies a wide, flat area near the meandering Russian River. Often, blue skies smile on Duncans Mills while fog covers the surrounding hills. Once a burgeoning lumber mill town established by brothers Samuel and Alexander Duncan, today it’s home to more than a dozen unique specialty shops offering hand-crafted goods, antiques, art galleries, locally-grown flowers and more. (

Begin this ride from B St in Duncans Mills.

Head west along the Russian River on CA-116 for the short climb out to Hwy 1.

Turn right and continue along the river on Hwy 1 N through the town of Jenner.

Stop at the River’s Mouth-where the river meets the ocean-enjoy the views!

Continue north on Hwy 1; the road winds up along the gorgeous Sonoma Coast with gradient ranges of 7-10% before dropping down into Russian Gulch.

The climb out of Russian Gulch up to the high point at Meyers Grade Rd is 1.8 miles with an average grade of 6.2%.

Look back and you’ll see the road winding up towards mountain ridge-WOW!

From Meyers Grade Rd, Hwy 1 continues on rolling terrain along the beautiful coastline followed by a sweeping descent and climb into and out of Jewell Gulch to Timber Gulch. The climb out of Timber Gulch leads to a flat-rolling stretch to Fort Ross State Park. *Currently there is road work along Hwy 1 between Meyers Grade and Jewell Gulch-the road becomes a single lane road with a traffic signal.

Fort Ross State Park Visitor Center:

If you’re not in a hurry, follow the road to the west entrance into the fort compound. Fort Ross was a thriving Russian-American Company settlement from 1812 to 1841. This commercial company chartered by Russia’s tsarist government controlled all Russian exploration, trade and settlement in the North Pacific, and established permanent settlements in Alaska and California. Fort Ross was the southernmost settlement in the Russian colonization of the North American continent, and was established as an agricultural base to supply Alaska. It was the site of California’s first windmills and shipbuilding, and Russian scientists were among the first to record California’s cultural and natural history. Fort Ross was a successfully functioning multi-cultural settlement for some thirty years. Settlers included Russians, Native Alaskans and Californians, and Creoles (individuals of mixed Russian and native ancestry.) (

Along with the chapel, the structure of most historical interest at Fort Ross is the Rotchev house, an existing building renovated about 1836 for Alexander Rotchev, the last manager of Ross. It is the only surviving structure. Several other buildings have been reconstructed: the first Russian Orthodox chapel south of Alaska, the stockade, and four other buildings called the Kuskov House, The Officials Barracks, and two corner blockhouses.  (

Fort Ross Cove:

Exit Fort Ross and cross Hwy 1 onto Fort Ross Rd. 

The climb on Ft. Ross Road up to the junction is 2.4 miles with an average grade of 11% and steeper grades of 12-17%! The narrow road winds underneath the shade of the beautiful towering redwoods-it’s a gorgeous traffic-free stiff climb.

The road exits the forest out towards the open ridge.

Turn right at the junction to stay on Fort Ross Rd, the road runs along the top of Campmeeting Ridge to the next junction.

Make a left turn to stay on Fort Ross Rd; the bumpy narrow road descends into Turner Canyon followed by a climb up to Black Mountain. It’s 0.9 mile with an average grade of 9.2%.

Fort Ross Rd drops down from the ridge for a 5.3 mile twisty technical descent into Cazadero.

Continue straight onto Cazadero Hwy through the town of Cazadero for a stop at the General Store.

Cazadero Hwy exits town as it rolls through the beautiful redwoods for 6.4 flat miles along Austin Creek to CA-116.

Head west on CA-116 to Duncans Mills.

Russian River and Sonoma Coast views along Hwy 1 N through Jenner en route to Reef Campground.


Reef Campground: The Day Use Area and campground are open from April 1 to October 30. Reef Campground has 21 campsites w/ water & flush toilets available first-come, first-served. No reservations are required. $35 a night-gorgeous campsites under the redwoods with coastal access and trails to Fort Ross State Park. The campground is located 1.7 miles south of Fort Ross State Park.

Walk around Reef Campground area:



This short hilly route gives you bang for the buck-a gorgeous run along the Sonoma Coast, a challenging climb through the redwoods and a flat roll back to Duncans Mills! Add the tour around Fort Ross and the ride can’t get any better!

Garmin Stats:
36.8 Miles with 3691′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1484′
Max grade: 17%
Terrain: Extremely hilly with steep climbs

Weather: Overcast morning skies > sunny and warm. Temps ranged from the high 50’s to the high 70’s with NW winds

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Fort Ross

Follow this route for today’s ride:


  1. Nancy,
    How do you get the average and maximum grade records off your Garmin? I have a new Edge 510 and while it reports the grade in real time (in a wildly fluctuating manner) it doesn’t appear in any of the reports on the phone or on Garmin Connect.

    Thanks again for your great work.


  2. Arthur, I also have the Edge 510-it only gives the max elevation on Garmin Connect. For the average grade, I do a manual calculation: total elevation divided by total feet. For max grade on any ride, I always make a mental note of the gradient on any given climb after a ride. Max grade is also available on the Ridewith GPS map site-on the right sidebar, click on Metrics and it gives the data-although I find that it’s usually wrong. Thanks for following the blog! Happy Riding! Nancy


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