Biking in Sonoma County
Take a breathtaking trip through the tall, cool redwoods, along the picturesque waters of the Russian River and Austin Creek. Here the North Pacific Coast Railroad's narrow gauge line brought sightseers and vacationers from San Francisco to the"country" from the 1880's to the 1930's.
Mileage: 20.5 miles (2 - 3 hours riding time)
Rating: Medium Difficulty
Route: Take River Road west, 3 miles, to Austin Creek Road; Austin Creek Road north, 6 miles to Kramer Road; right on Kramer Road to Cazadero Highway; left on Cazadero Highway, =-mile to Cazadero. Return on Cazadero Highway, 6 miles, to River Road; right on River Road, 1 mile, to Duncans Mills; left across Russian River and onto Moscow Road, back to Monte Rio, 3= miles; left across Russian River on Main Street to your car.
Begin your trip at the Rio Theater, on River Road in Monte Rio, carefully dividing your attention between the cars on one side and the redwoods on the other. After a brief winding narrow stretch the road widens and you'll soon make a right turn on Austin Creek Road where minimal traffic and the narrow road through dense groves of redwoods will make you feel like you are on a forest path. The gravel operation detracts from the view as you negotiate this part of the trip but helps keep the mouth of the creek open and supplies gravel and sand for roads, septic systems, and readymix concrete.
As the road crosses the creek and Cazadero Highway, be sure to stay on Austin Creek Road as it climbs above the Berkeley Music Camp. After passing St. Elmo Creek and a pair of one-lane bridges, turn right down Kramer Road and left on Cazadero Highway. The metropolis of Cazadero awaits you, sometimes called the "Heart of the Redwoods." The tiny town, once a logging community, has the Cazadero General Store and the Cazadero Inn as its central features. We stopped for lunch here where the food and service are good and the bathroom is a special treat. Cazadero is also the site of outdoor concerts which are staged in the Cazadero Music Camp Redwood Grove. It's easy to see why so many religious and civic groups have chosen this area for camp sites.
On your return trip you will find a nice mild coast back to River Road along Cazadero Highway. You can decide to return to Monte Rio by turning left onto River Road or continue on to Duncans Mills, our next point of interest. This was the site of one of the many now long-gone lumber mills of this area, and now is home for a small rebuilt town with interesting shops. If it's steelhead season, you may want to try a few casts in the river just a few yards from the town, where Freezeout Pool and Brown's Pool have been popular spots for years. You might also enjoy grabbing a picnic lunch and sitting down by the river.
To return to your car, cross the river and follow Moscow Road to the left. Stay on it until you reach Monte Rio. Back in Monte Rio there are a number of spots for snacks and several excellent restaurants for dinner in this area. If you finish your trip on a warm summer's day, a swim in the river from the public beach behind the theater will be just what you need before your journey home.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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