Riding from Reno around Northern CA

Jun 1st, 2010, 12:33 PM
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Riding from Reno around Northern CA

You all have some excellent tips so I hope you'd be so kind to share a few with me. There are 6 of us flying in to Reno, renting motorcyles and would like to see some suggested sites and scenic roads/locations throughout N. California.
We are coming in July 16th and will there for one week.
We are looking to take a leisurely pace; maybe 150 miles a day or so and I'd be grateful for your suggestions.
Redwoods is one definate.
Also any tips on accomadations to stay in the evening etc.
This is my first time on the West Coast and I am looking forward to it!

I read a post from traveler318 who said they'd lived in that area all their life, would love to hear from you.
Thank you
MidniteFlyer is offline  
Jun 1st, 2010, 01:26 PM
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I'm not traveler318, but I am also a CA native So you've got 1 week, starting in Reno, and a must-see is the redwoods - that means heading to the coast. There are redwood groves up and down the northern and central CA coast, so lots of opportunities to see them.

North of SF there are quite a few old growth groves, so you could make a loop - maybe hit the coast around the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area and head north toward Eureka, then back toward Reno again - maybe see Lassen National park as well. The north coast has some gorgeous coastline, lots of small towns, and is overall fairly rural. We are actually headed up to Prairie Creek state park for some camping over July 4th weekend - can't wait!!

Another good choice would be to see the redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains, which are about an hour south of SF. There are some old growth groves here too, although not as many as along the north coast. Still tons of redwoods and some wonderful forests, but second growth forests dominate. Basically, the closer to SF the forests are, the more likely they were to be logged before protections were put in place.

A nice thing about going to the Santa Cruz mountains is that you can easily combine your visit with SF itself, the beaches in Santa Cruz, the beautiful coastline in Monterey, Big Sur, etc. This area is much more populated than the north coast, with larger towns and more going on.

Anyway, I'd probably choose between these options, which one really depends on whether you are looking for a more rural experience or to go someplace where there are more people and things going on. I don't think you can go wrong either way.
november_moon is online now  
Jun 1st, 2010, 03:29 PM
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" a must-see is the redwoods - that means heading to the coast. "

The coast is terrific of course, but there are lots of redwoods (different species) in the Sierra. Calaveras Big trees, etc.

I'm in the central Valley and rode on the back of my ex's motorcycle too many times to count all over northern CA - coast and mountains for a couple of years (a loooong time ago - but the routes don't change )

Here is a plan I think would cover a LOT of bases:

Leave from Reno heading west on I-80, Visit Truckee. Then jump on hwy 89 north through Sierra City, Blairsden, Lake Almanor and into Lassen.

(Truckee: an old time town near the shore of Donner Lake, good food, pubs, etc. Along hwy 89 north visit Plumas/Eureka State Park for a gold mine/museum.)

Then from Lassen head across to Redding and hwy 299 through Weaverville and the Trinity Alps to Eureka and the north coast.

From Eureka, down 101 and hwy 1 along the coast to Elk or Point Arena before heading inland to Healdsburg and bit of the wine country.

Across on 128 through Winters and into Sacramento.

From here either up I-80 back to Reno -- OR -- if you still have time head SE of Sacramento into Amador county (more wine country) and up hwy 88 to Tahoe and then over the hill to Reno.

I've ridden every one of these roads and they are great for bikes

This would be a pretty full week's worth through some amazing scenery -- but a lot of it on very uncrowded roads. A great road trip.

I personally would stick to the northern part of the state and not go down to Santa Cruz and down the coast.
janisj is offline  
Jun 1st, 2010, 04:00 PM
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Yes, the giant sequoias are also redwoods. I assumed the OP was talking about coastal redwoods because in my experience when people say "redwoods" that's what they mean. The sequoias are magnificent too and definitely worth seeing.
november_moon is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2010, 06:49 AM
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Thank so much, this is a great start! I also am the "co-pilot" as a riding passenger and greatly appreciate the roads/area recommended. We are all from farmland/horse country in SE PA. and like a less congested, easy riding scenario. Not a fan of major highways, yet as a means to an end
Yes, you are correct I was referencing Coastal Redwoods (as a novice) yet love any and all info. and suggestions to view your beautiful state.
We are looking to stick to the Northern part for time sake, and for the more rural aspect, yet also like the suggestion of the Amador County way back if time permits.
Any recommended places to stay along those routes, outdoor places to eat/drink?
Any other must sees?
Again thank you both so much for your suggestions
MidniteFlyer is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2010, 04:01 PM
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Your planned trip sounds like a winner. There are some great riding roads in Northern California. It's a well-kept secret that the area north of Sacramento and the Bay Area is not very populated. There are only a few really big cities and these are easily avoided if you take the right routes.

If you can, get a hold of the AAA map "Northern California". This map will show in detail all the back roads you can take and most of the attractions along them.

You have gotten some good advice in the posts above. If you would like even more remoteness, consider the following route.

1st day - follow janisj's suggestion of driving Hwy 89 north from Truckee to Lassen. (If you have the inclination, you might want to drive to Lake Tahoe via Mt Rose first and then connect with CA 89 at Tahoe City.) Spend the night in Chester on the shores of Lake Almanor.

Day 2 - Drive through Lassen (take a hike to stretch those legs) and continue on 89 to Burney and take a look at the falls there. Finish the day overnighting in McCloud or Mt. Shasta.

Day 3 - Head up I-5 to CA 3 and drive to Fort Jones. Here, take the Scott River Road north to CA 96. Along the very scenic road is a county park, Jones Beach. Stop here and cool off in the great swimming hole.

CA 96 is called "The State of Jefferson Scenic Byway". It's an incredible ride along the Klamath River. It's quite lonely and there are few services.

At Happy Camp, stop and have lunch. From here you can stay on the Jefferson Byway and go north on Happy Camp Rd. to Hwy 199. At Hwy 199, you can either go north to Cave Junction and tour the Oregon Caves or you can go south and west to Crescent City and Redwood National and State Parks. Both towns have accomodations.

Day 4 - See the redwoods (this could take all day depending on your interests) and then drive south on US 101 (The Redwood Highway) to the Arcata/Eureka area. There are several brew pubs in this area and lots of accomodations.

Day 5 - Drive south on US 101 and CA 1 to the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area. There are brewpubs here too and lots of beaches and scenic trails. There are also lots of places to stay and dine in this area.

Day 6 - Take CA 20 from Fort Bragg east to the Sierra Foothills town of Grass Valley. This drive will take you through the coastal range, along the shores of Clear Lake, and through the Sacramento Valley before re-entering the Sierra Nevada. Grass Valley and Nevada City are twin gold rush towns that still have an authentic mining camp feeling about them. Check out the Empire Mine State Historic Park here. There is a wide range of accomodations and dining.

Day 7 - Head north on CA 49 through some scenic foothill countryside and then follow the North Fork of the Yuba up through Downieville and Sierra City. After driving over the Yuba Pass you will reach CA 89. Here, instead of going south to Truckee, continue on 49 to CA 70 and drive east to US 395 and then head south to Reno.

Northern California has a lot of scenic attractions and lots of back roads. The above is only one possible itinerary. There are many others. This one will keep you in the less crowded parts of the state though.
Otis_B_Driftwood is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2010, 08:50 AM
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This is wonderful thanks! Excellent suggestions!
Yes we like the scenic byways to ride and yet at night look to find places that we can relax, have the element of nightlife to be able to go and listen to some good music, dance and eat.
I am taking notes and sharing it with the group, this is awesome. If anything else comes to mind please don't hesitate to share it. Thanks so much
MidniteFlyer is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2010, 10:07 AM
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Otis_B_D's route is similar to my suggestion except that he has you going farther north before heading to the coast. Burney Falls is absolutely amazing and is more than a good reason to follow his plan. The last two days of his vs mine are equally good. Either Grass Valley/Nevada City and hwy 20 to Tahoe -- OR -- Amador County/Plymouth/Sutter Creek/Amador City and hwy 88 to Tahoe would be excellent.

All those places are along hwy 49 which goes N/S following the gold rush foothills and have lots to see/do.
janisj is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2010, 12:57 PM
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Our family has spent vacations in the Sierra City area for generations - it is a terrific area. Very scenic, lots of lakes to check out, neat little towns, etc.

It's funny about how much of northern California there is and how rural most of it is. People don't realize. Even my husband, who has lived in CA his whole life had no real concept of the north. When I started taking him up there, he was amazed. He'd never been north of Sac.
november_moon is online now  
Jun 4th, 2010, 06:26 AM
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You guys are great and everyone here are really enjoying all of your suggestions Now here is another question...where along the coast would we be able to see Sea Lions? or any other suggestions for wildlife? Also areas where they may be Eagles?
It is exciting to get your feedback as I am glad to know of the rural/scenic aspects of the North.
We are not city people in the least sense
Also interesting a client walked into my office this morning who works for AAA and I asked him about a map for N. CA and he said he would bring it in to me next week.
That worked out great! So anything else you may think of I am grateful to hear.
Thanks again so much....
MidniteFlyer is offline  
Jun 4th, 2010, 09:42 AM
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You'll see lots of sea lions along the north coast in many of the state parks and other places. Heck, this photo was taken in the harbor in practically in the middle of Ft Bragg travelpod.com/travel-photo/muggeragem/1/1243390140/25_1.jpg/tpod.html

Eagles are harder -- most times I've seen eagles have been in the winter or very early spring. Not an expert by any means so maybe others have detailed info for you.

You will see tons of hawks and other birds though. You'll probably also see deer and other wild life.
janisj is offline  
Jun 4th, 2010, 10:29 AM
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Oh yeah - no shortage of places to watch sea mammals. If your route takes you up to Prairie Creek State Park, north of Eureka, there are elk.

I am not sure about eagles. The only place I remember seeing eagles in large numbers was at Lake San Antonio, which is central CA - pretty far from where you'll be. I've seen eagles here and there, but don't have any recommendations about where you are most likely to see them.
november_moon is online now  
Jun 4th, 2010, 12:28 PM
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Here is a link to a bald eagle cam in Redding:


If you e-mail them for info, they may be able to give you info on eagle viewing in N. Cal.
MichelleY is online now  
Jun 4th, 2010, 07:05 PM
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Thanks for the link, Michelle. We are going to Turtle Bay tomorrow and will keep our eyes open for eagle sightings.

Another great spot for spotting bald eagles is Lake Britton which is right next to Burney Falls. You will have to hike along the lakeshore to have any chance of sighting them. You won't have much luck from the highway especially if you are in a group of hogs.

If you go up to the Klamath and/or Smith Rivers, you might spot some too. They are fairly common but you would have to spend some time on the rivers and away from the highways. Bears are often spotted up there too.

For sealions, they are often seen along the Northern California coast. Look for them around harbors and offshore rocks rather than along the beaches.

That's great news about getting the AAA map.
Otis_B_Driftwood is offline  
Jun 6th, 2010, 11:40 PM
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Hello MidniteFlyer! I'm always glad to hear of folks coming out for a motorcycle trip in our part of California. I live on the coast in Fort Bragg, and I ride… everywhere.

No one has yet asked what kind of riding you like to do, or what kind of motorcycles your group is renting. The answers may well determine your itinerary. If you like riding the twisties, some of the smaller two-lane roads will be where you want to head (i.e. Hwy 36 from Red Bluff to Fortuna). If you prefer cruising, roads like Hwy 20 may be more to your liking. In either case, I would avoid Interstate 80 out of Reno; it has become extremely torn up from heavy winter traffic and has ruts that will swallow motorcycles. You can take Hwy 395 either north or south to avoid the 80.

My friend, Greg Ziemer, has a motorcycle touring company, http://www.twistedtourscalifornia.com, and he has recently been riding the roads of northern California. You might check out his website and blog for info and videos of some of the roads being discussed here. And, if you find you like touring northern California, you might come back and join one of his tours. He really knows northern California, not only the roads but the best places to eat and kick back and relax at the end of a day of riding.

If you decide you are coming through Fort Bragg/Mendocino area, I can give you specifics on motels, eateries, etc. Email me or post here again, and I'm glad to help out. Cheers!
lilredridingliz is offline  
Jun 7th, 2010, 07:52 PM
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We got up to Redding over the weekend and visited Turtle Bay. Unfortunately, you can't see the eagle nest right now because of vegetation growth and the fact that the nest is some distance from any trail. They told us the best time to see it is in March after the eggs are laid and before the Spring growth.

We did have a great tour with the segways. They take you around this city park and along the Sacramento River Trail along the bike paths. You even get to drive across the beautiful Sundial Bridge. This bridge has really transformed Redding, bringing in lots of visitors and generating other renewal projects in the city.

Turtle Bay Park is a lot more than the bridge too. It has preserved a peaceful and serene riparian ecosystem alongside the Sacramento. There are miles and miles of hiking/biking paths along the river. In fact, you can now do a loop up to Shasta Dam and back on mountain bikes from the Sundial Bridge. The last segments of this trail opened this past Saturday. We intend to return soon and try this out.

On Sunday, we took a rafting trip on the Upper Sacramento from up near Dunsmuir down to the lake. This was a lot of fun and there was a lot of water in the river. In fact, in the days just before our trip, they had to cancel groups because there was too high a flow. Since this is mostly a wild river, it can only be rafted in the late Spring.

Even the drive up to Redding on I5 was memorable because of the crystal clear air and fantastic visibility. From the Sierra Buttes and snow covered Sierra to the Coast Range in the West, there were always spectacular mountains in view. Mt. Lassen, in particular, looked stunning covered in white. Even the rice fields and vineyards seemed to be glittering under the sunlight. And since the weather was not particularly hot, the drive itself was much more pleasant than normal.

North of Redding though, the clouds still hovered over the Siskiyous and we couldn't see Mt. Shasta. Lake Shasta, though, was under sunny skies and looked about as full as it can ever get. I'm sure all the houseboaters are happy about that.
Otis_B_Driftwood is offline  
Jun 7th, 2010, 08:00 PM
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Otis: thanks for reporting. Maybe you could cut & copy this to a trip report for this site. Not much is ever reported on this area of CA.
MichelleY is online now  
Jun 10th, 2010, 01:54 PM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you all!
To answer the question what kind of riding do we do, we are a laid back group, not big on the major highways, as mentioned, yet as a means to an end. I rode Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee and that's great for a bullet bike or sportscars. We like easy highways, curves, not really a fan of the twisties. I do really appreciate the update on road conditions and glad to hear from Otis B regarding the drive up to Redding. Getting excited! Thanks again
MidniteFlyer is offline  
Jul 14th, 2010, 07:19 AM
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Leaving tommorrow! Getting excited! Thanks again!
MidniteFlyer is offline  
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