The Road to Pescadero

A couple of weeks ago my friend Auston and I went for a bike ride down the California coast. We left San Francisco with no particular destination in mind. The plan was to head south on Highway 1, ride all day, and get a lot of sun.

Making our way out of San Francisco we followed bike signs past Lake Merced, turned onto Highway 35, and then onto Skyline Drive. Soon enough we were in Pacifica, where we stopped at the beach for awhile to watch the surfers.

From there we pedaled up and over a hill, and then down through the new tunnel that goes through Devil’s Slide.

It's a lovely tunnel with a wide shoulder that took us downhill.

Next up: A taco shop in Moss Beach. Auston was ahead of me and pulled over. When I caught up, stopped, and asked “What’s up?” he looked up at the sign ..."Taqueria El Gran Amigo," and then gave me a look that read, “You thinkin' what I’m thinkin'?”

I was. We had some tacos before hitting the road again.

It wasn’t long before we took another break. We took a lot of breaks on this trip, not because we were tired of riding, but because we wanted to soak in each and every moment. Smell the taco shacks ... I mean, the roses, along the way.

Speaking of flowers, it was mid-spring and the green grass above the cliffs was sprinkled with budding wildflowers of every color of the rainbow. We sat quietly, and smilingly. It was very tranquil, listening to the waves break on the shore, feeling the warm sun on my skin, deeply inhaling the salty sea breeze.

The meditation ended with Auston jumping up and pointing out toward the horizon. “Check it out! Dolphins!” he exclaimed. Wow! What an awesome sight. They were far away and we could only see their fins, but it was still exciting to watch them swim up the coast until they disappeared in the tides.

Passing by Half Moon Bay we rode a beautiful paved coastal trail, which kept us off the highway through town (though we did stop in town on our way back to get lunch and have some conversation with locals). Half Moon Bay State Beach has campsites with wonderful views of the ocean. Although it seemed like a good place to spend the night, Auston and I decided to continue farther down the road.

The miles flew by quickly as we pedaled through agricultural communities where farms stretched from the high hills all the way to the land’s end.

Then it was one state beach after the another, until finally we reached Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a place that could serve as a wonderful destination. There is a hostel at the lighthouse, which also seemed like a good place to spend the night. But Auston and I stuck to our plan to camp.

It was early evening now and the sun would soon be gone. We were getting hungry and didn’t have any food. Our options were limited. After speaking with someone who works at the hostel, we decided to bike back up north, then go a couple of miles inland to little ol’ Pescadero.

In Pescadero we bought some food and then biked to Butano State Park. By the time we made it to the campsite, it was dark. We put on our headlamps, set up our tents, ate dinner, and soon fell asleep.

It wasn’t until daybreak that I saw we were camping in a lush redwood grove. Moss covered the rocks and ferns lined the floor. Everything was wet with morning dew. It smelled piney. It was a beautiful scene, but short lived, as we had to head back to the city. We got an early start and cycled out of the forest as the morning birds sang. Through the town of Pescadero and back to the coast we went, then north toward San Francisco.

Get more information about bike overnights.Tip for this adventure: 3-Zero Cafe at the Half Moon Bay Airport makes a great breakfast, and you get to watch the planes take off while you're eating.

Favorite local bike shop: Being new to the Bay Area, I haven't visited many bike shops. But I did go to Sports Basement by Crissy Field once, and was impressed by their customer service.

9 responses so far ↓

Jenn - May 21, 2013 at 7:37 AM

Hi Jerome,

We've heard about the new Devil's Slide tunnels. The insides sound great. What about the approach and exits? Is there much shoulder? Are there guard rails? Would love to know more from someone who's pedaled them.

.Jenn Milyko
Senior Cartographer
Adventure Cycling Assoc.

Tom - May 21, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Highway 1 through Pacifica heading south is the same as it always was; decent shoulder until the start of the climb, then fairly narrow and twisty, with traffic. No guardrails on the existing road. The new road splits off about halfway up the hill, avoiding what was the worst section of the climb, and all of the twisty bit through Devil's Slide. The new road crosses a bridge, with a shoulder and guardrails, goes through the tunnel (as pictured), and then lands you on the downhill at a section with a decent shoulder.

Northbound is about the same.

The old road is still there, of course, and is going to be part of a new county park, with the road becoming a bike path (unless it washes away again). With no traffic that should be a beautiful ride (but hillier than the tunnel).

Jenn - May 21, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Hi Tom,
Thanks for your feedback about the tunnels. We had heard the approaches/exits were pretty tight due to guardrail positioning. It could be that what our reportee was seeing was a temporary situation. Appreciate additional information. .Jenn.

James - May 21, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Great !!!

Kyle - May 21, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Did the same ride a few weeks back! I started in Daly City though and stayed in CostaNoa. The new tunnel is nice with a wide shoulder. And yes, approaching the tunnel North or South is still sketchy. I recommend Sam's Chowder House! Thanks for the great post!

Bill - May 21, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Excellent. Exactly what an adventure should be. It inspires me and reminds me of other overnight bike trips (like Occidental to Salt Point). Thanks!

José Monjaraz - May 26, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Un lugar realmente hermoso para viajar en bici. Saludo

Seo - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:01 PM

Nice! I didn't know they constructed a tunnel at Devil's Slide until reading this article. I rode down the coast from Oregon last year and camped at Half Moon Bay State Park. Hike/bike sites are Sweet and near the beach. Beware, Big raccoons!

Andrew - Nov 22, 2013 at 12:06 PM

do you have a map of gpx of this ride thanks for the inspiration.

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