Healdsburg: The Geysers

Saturday, April 18, 2015

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The Geysers is the world’s largest geothermal field, containing a complex of 22 geothermal power plants, drawing steam from more than 350 wells, located in the Mayacamas Mountains approximately 72 miles (116 km) north of San Francisco, California. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Geysers)

This challenging counter-clockwise loop goes up the Mayacamas Mountains on south Geysers Rd from Alexander Valley. The double summit climbs drops down through Sulphur Creek Canyon and continues on rolling terrain along Sulphur Creek before exiting out on River Rd to Cloverdale. Continue climbing up through the vineyards around Dry Creek Valley on Dutcher Creek and Canyon Rds before rolling on the flats through Geyserville on CA-128 back to Alexander Valley.

Begin this ride from the Jimtown Store on CA-128 in Healdsburg.

Head NE and meander along the vineyards around Alexander Valley on CA-128 to Pine Flat Rd.

Red Winery Rd continues winding around the picturesque Alexander Valley with its fabulous mountain views and rich vineyards.

Turn right onto Geysers Rd; this remote country back road stretches 25.4 miles from Red Winery Rd to the NW end at River Rd in Cloverdale with a double summit climb. The first half mile leads up to the start of the climb at Ca Smith Rd; it winds up the mountain for 0.8 mile up to the cattle guard xing with an average grade of 8.5% and steep pitches of 12-14%.

The ascent steadily increases as you head towards the first hairpin turn; it’s 1.7 miles with an average grade of 9.1% and steep pitches of 12-15%!

Look around and enjoy the rolling hillside vineyards-it’s a good distraction to the climb!

At the switchback, the road winds up along the mountain with lesser 7-10% grades and 2 sections of rough gravel to Alexander Mountain Rd.

Enjoy the spectacular valley views and the surrounding hillside vineyards!

Geysers Rd keeps climbing for another 0.8 mile with an average grade of 7.8% and steep pitches of 10-12% to the first summit at Ridge Ranch Rd.

After cresting the summit, the road levels out for a short section followed by a half mile climb with gradient ranges of 6-9%. The sweeping fast descent drops down to the Little Sulpher Creek crossing.

The road kicks up again for a climb up to the Mercuryville summit; it’s 1.7 miles with an average grade of 9.1%. The road eases down to lesser grades as you near the top.

Look around and enjoy the phenomenal Mayacamas Mountain peaks and canyons. You can see Geysers Rd winding around the mountain side!

You’re at the summit when you see the power line at the orange right turn sign. There is a wide turn out area with a gated driveway that leads to a single home. It’s pretty disgusting to see trash dumped at the top of the mountain.

Geysers Rd gently rolls along the top of the ridge with magnificent views of the surrounding mountain peaks and canyons!

At the Western GeoPower Inc sign, Geysers Rd continues with an extremely steep descent for the next 1.3 mile followed by a hard left turn at the junction-use caution!

Geysers Rd continues on a gradual downhill for the next 4.5 through the shaded Sulphur Creek Canyon along Big Sulphur Creek. Look around you can see all the pipes laid out like a puzzle along the Mayacama Mountains and smell the sulphur from the steam vents.

At mile 20, you’ll cross Big Sulphur Creek on the Historic iron truss Geysers Rd Bridge circa 1909. The road continues through the canyon on a series of small climbs and rolling descents along with three gravel sections.

The road drops down through the empty canyon meadows with views of the riparian habitat along Big Sulpher Creek.

As you pass the remote ranch, take the time to slow down as you roll along the edge of the creek to enjoy the rugged rocky canyon landscape.

Geysers Rd narrows to a single lane along the rocky face of the canyon through the washout and landslide sections of the road.

Peer to you left to take in the rugged landscape and you’ll notice the sheer drop off into the canyon.

The road exits out of the canyon area and becomes a two-lane road as it drops down onto River Rd.

River Rd and Crocker Rd leads out to the vineyards around Alexander Valley to the creek crossing towards Cloverdale.

The left turn on Asti Rd takes you along the eastern edge of Cloverdale pass the Cloverdale Depot to the Hwy 101 crossing on Santana Dr.

Stop at the Shell Station/Starbucks on Cloverdale Ave.

Head south on Cloverdale Ave for the short climb up Dutcher Creek Rd; it’s 0.4 mile with gradient ranges of 6-8% and steep pitches of 9-10%.

The descent on Dutcher Creek Rd drops into Dry Creek Valley with magnificent views of the valley vineyards!

Continue on Dry Creek Rd through the gorgeous vineyards around Dry Creek Valley.

Turn left on Canyon Rd for another short hill climb through the rolling hillside vineyards-you’re at the top when you see the Olive Hill Cemetery.

The quick descent on Canyon Rd drops you down onto CA-128.

Head SE on CA-128/Geyserville Ave into the town of Geyserville.

Look for the sculptures along the Geyserville Sculpture Trail.

CA-128 E takes you out of town across the Russian River for a flat roll through the picturesque vineyards around the beautiful Alexander Valley.

Alexander Valley barns:

Continue on CA-128 through Alexander Valley.

Turn left on Geysers Rd and continue through the expansive Alexander Valley vineyards on Red Winery Rd.

Pine Flat Rd leads back CA-128 to the Jimtown Store.

This loop around “The Geysers” is a classic Sonoma County ride-it’s a challenging ride with steep climbs and descents through the gorgeous remote back-country. There is no water or facilities-you must be self sufficient, so plan accordingly! Get some climbing under your legs and add this to your list of must-do rides-you’ll enjoy the beautiful canyon scenery and rugged landscape with virtually no traffic!

Garmin Stats:
50.83 Miles with 4278′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 2675′
Max grade: 15%
Terrain: Extremely hilly with steep climbs

Weather: Sunny and warm with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the high 40’s to the low 80’s with NW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

The Geysers

Follow this route for today’s ride: