Monday, November 24, 2008


This route was defined by Andreas Vogel and is described on his Cycling California site.

Many thanks to Andreas for working so hard to identify a route with great scenery, and little traffic. Although it does include some dirt stretches, it is not a technical mountain bike ride; the dirt stretches were chosen when they were the most scenic and least trafficked option available.

This blog attempts to provide additional information for anybody planning to ride Andreas’ route. We have organized the blog into some general information, followed by one post per day of our trip. We organize the daily route information this way because it reflects our own trip, not because we think anybody else would want to ride at our pace.

We liked everything about this route and recommend it without hesitation. The scenery every day is lovely and very diverse: coastal mountains, a little bit of the coast, old growth redwoods, oak woodlands, big rivers, and fine views of Shasta and Lassen. 25-30% of the route is on unpaved roads and most of those are high quality hard packed dirt or gravel. Nearly all of the paved road portions are on quiet rural roads.

Our trip was 820 miles with 73,705 feet of altitude gain, and took us 14 full days. We started and finished the trip in Willows and rode clockwise, October 5-18, 2008.

If you have any questions or want any advice, please don’t hesitate to post a response and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Google Maps with profiles

These are maps from
They are very similar to the maps on Andreas site, but the route corrections we made are incorporated here. And there are some alternatives that we think are worthwhile. These maps are defined to run counter-clockwise, so if you build profiles (by clicking the "elevation" link on the left side) keep that in mind.

Chico to Highway 89 near Chester (73 miles):
This description doesn't go all the way into Chester. You will need to detour to Chester if you need food.

Highway 89 near Chester to Burney (82 miles)

Burney to McLeod (65 miles)
This is NOT the route Andreas describes. We couldn't make his route work up near Stout Meadow and Grizzly Peak. We haven't ridden this route, but it is shown on the AAA map, and the USFS map shows it as more substantive roads than Andreas route, and therefore probably has adequate marking.
Better than the route on this gmap-pedometer would be to turn off route 11 between the two reservoirs and take 39N06 over the top of Grizzly Peak, then pick up Andreas route. But that road isn't shown connecting on google maps, and may or may not be well marked on the ground. If you can copy the info from the book I mention in the blog that describes the Grizzly Peak route, then use that instead. (If you follow the Grizzly Peak route, then you would not go through McCloud.)

McLeod to Weed (46 miles)

Weed to Callahan (44 miles)

Callahan to Forks of Salmon (47 miles)

Forks of Salmon to Orleans (25 miles)

FOLLOWING ANDREAS ROUTE from Orleans to Arcata:
Orleans to Hoopa Bridge (33 miles)

Hoopa Bridge to Arcata (47 miles)
(this map routes you to the Arcata town square. If you don't want to go into town you can skirt it by staying north and then west of town).

ALTERNATE Orleans to Arcata. This is not part of Andreas route. But this change gives you more time on the coast, including excellent and redwood scenery. Andreas route has very little coastal scenery, and I think this alternative makes for a better trip, particularly if you've never been up as far north as the Klamath River mouth:
Orleans to Orick via Bald Hills Road (51 miles)
[The paved highway from Orleans to Weitchpec is very lovely and has very little traffic. There is a very small shop in Weitchpec. We have not been on Bald Hills Road, but it is described in detail in “Guide to California Backroads & 4-WD Trails” by Wells. There are two grocery stores with reasonable selection in Orick, which has nothing else to recommend it.]

Orick to Arcata (39 miles)
[The disadvantage of this alternate route is that it puts you on highway 101 from Orick to Patricks Point State Park for 15 miles. This is likely to be a shock after hundreds of miles of quiet roads, but keep in mind that hundreds of cycle tourists ride the California coast every year spending a lot of time on busy roads like this. But the scenery is fantastic, and once you get south of Patricks Point State Park you are on side roads for the rest of the way to Arcata. Trinidad is an up-scale little town with a great grocery store, cafes, and a beautiful small harbor]

Fantastic loop north from Orick (43 miles. Optional, but maybe best part of whole trip)

[For this region you'll want a copy of the Trails Illustrated "Redwood National and State Parks" map.]
In July 2008 we backpacked 550 miles along the coast from the Columbia River mouth to Arcata. The piece of the coast recommended here was as nice as anything we saw on the whole trip, and I really highly recommend this part.
The trail along the coast in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is fantastic, and the Klamath River mouth is outstanding. The Klamath river is a major salmon river, and is one of the few undammed protected rivers. The wildlife and scenery there at the mouth are great.
There's a very nice private campground on the Klamath River mouth near mile 20.1 on the gmap ( You can poke around their website to see photos of the area. I believe there is a very small grocery store and cafe in the small town of Klamath.

Back in Arcata the Alternate rejoins Andreas Route:
Arcata to Ferndale (31 miles)

Ferndale to Honeydew (43 miles)

Honeydew to Briceland/Usal Road junction, via Avenue of the Giants, Redway, & Briceland (70 miles)

ALTERNATE: Honeydew to Briceland/Usal Road junction, via the coastal route - Wilder Ridge Road, Kings Peak Road, & Chemise Mtn Road (27 miles)
This stays close to the coast, rather than heading inland to pass through the redwood forests. If you take this route, you should get the King Range National Conservation Area map. There is apparently a gas station in Shelter Cove (slightly off route on the coast). This route is paved for the first 8 miles south of Honeydew (while still on Wilder Ridge Road. Then it is dirt for 12 miles. Then paved for about 4 miles, and dirt for the final 3 miles. (We have not been on this route.) Although this route is close to the coast, it is primarily through forests with only intermittent views of the ocean.

Usal Road, from Briceland Rd junction to Highway 1 (24 miles)

Highway 1 / Usal Rd junction to Laytonville (37 miles)

Laytonville to Middle Fork Eel River bridge (enter National Forest) (38 miles)

Eel River Bridge to Alder Alder Springs Station junction (33 miles)

Alder Springs Station junction to Willows Walmart (39 miles)

ALTERNATE: Alder Springs to Willows Walmart (38 miles)
This is simlar to the last map, but differs for 5-6 miles between Rattlesnake Firefighter Memorial and Gillespy Ranch. This route is on a major dirt road on the north slope of the ridge, whereas the prior map is on the paved road on the southern slope. This route should be a little cooler on a hot day due to the aspect.

Willows to Chico (33 miles)


The AAA sectional series map called “Northern California” is the best road map covering the whole route and you should definitely carry this map. The AAA street map for Eureka/Arcata also includes the coastal section from Usal Road to Hoopa at a slightly larger scale than the Northern California map.

You should also have photocopies of the relevant sections of the USFS maps for:
  1. Mendocino NF (2006; covers Elk Creek to Covelo);
  2. Klamath NF (2007; covers Hoopa to Callahan);
  3. Shata/Trinity NF (2007; covers Callahan to Burney);
  4. Lassen NF (2002; covers Burney to Stirling City).
All of the roads on this route are shown on the AAA Northern California map except:
  1. The roads near Arcata. (best shown on the AAA Eureka/Arcata street map)
  2. Hoopa to Somes Bar. (shown on the Klamath NF map)
  3. A few miles NW of Weed, where the route is on quiet street parallel to the freeway. (shown on Shasta Trinity NF map)
  4. Grizzly Peak Road (aka 39N06) connection to Route 11 (shown on Shasta Trinity NF map)
  5. Parts of the dirt road on either side of Chester. (shown on the Lassen NF map).
  6. Some of the farm roads between Orobend and Willows. (we printed this section from Google maps).


The viable season is May or June through mid to late October.
a. Some of the roads are closed during the winter due to snow. This rules out November through April. The snow is cleared from the highest roads sometime during May or early June, depending on the snow pack. Early October is generally OK, late October or early November might be OK too – it all depends on when the first storm dumps snow.
b. Northern California has a wet and a dry season, and you certainly want to ride this route during the dry season, as the wet season in Northern California can be REALLY wet; for instance, Honeydew averages 80 inches of rain per year, nearly all during November through April. On the other hand, the dry season is usually completely dry and you are likely to have a trip with no rain. The wet season is typically November to March. October, April, and May are transitional months that may or may not have much or any rain. Fortunately, this aligns with the snow closures.
c. The grass is green and the flowers are in full bloom during April and May. Things start to dry out as soon as the rain stops. By the end of summer, everything is dry and golden. It is often less windy in the fall than spring and summer.
d. The coast and low-lying valleys are nearly always foggy during July and August. Sometimes that fog will burn off by mid day, but not always. If you travel during July or August you might experience dense fog while near the ocean. On the other hand, the view from the hills and mountains when the fog is below you is delightful. September and October have much less chance for dense prolonged fog.
e. Much of this route can be quite hot during the summer. It can be too hot to enjoy being out in the sun. If you are used to temps in the 90s or more, then don’t worry about it, but if you are a fair weather rider, then avoid July and August (and even June, as Andreas will attest).
f. The road through Lassen National Park reaches 8500 feet, and that road is closed from the first serious snow (usually in late October) until the road is cleared of snow, usually in May or June. Fall closure is not predictable, in 2007 the road closed unusually early on October 7th. In 2008 it did not close until November 11th. It’s almost certainly going to be closed by mid November of any year. On the other hand, the opening date of the Lassen road may be fairly predictable by March or April. You can look at the snow pack report in the spring - look at the top plot on this page (Northern Section Trinity River through Truckee).
If you call Lassen National Park in April they might be able to give you a forecast for an approximate date the road will open, based on the work schedule.
g. Big Leaf Maples, Black Oaks, and Dogwoods put on a nice autumn show; depending on the location, they peak sometime in October.
h. We took the trip from October 5 to 18, and had clear, cool, calm, pleasant weather every day. Our only windy stretch was between Petrolia and Eureka; the exposed coast there is (we believe) windy all year, and the wind is consistently out of the North or Northwest. We had temperatures near or below freezing on half of our early mornings, but the daytime temperatures were in the 60’s.
i. If you are a salmon or steelhead fisherman, you might want take that into account when choosing your dates.

Bike & Gear Advice

There is plenty of climbing, some of it steep. Much of the route is paved, and many of the dirt sections are relatively smooth. We rode hard-tails and appreciated our front suspensions on ~10-15% of the route; a rigid frame would be fine. We used 1.9” tires, 1.5” should be OK, but we wouldn’t do it on skinny tires. We travel light, as described on our Great Divide trip report.

About Food

Food is available nearly every day, but the choices are often a bit limited. We did not carry a stove, and our staples were: cheese, crackers, bread, hummus, nuts, apples, bananas, yoghurt, bars, carrots, avocados, red peppers, salsa, juice, chocolate, cookies. We ate restaurant meals a half dozen times, and had grocery store deli food a few times.

Transport Options

You could start the trip anywhere in the loop. We drove to Willows and parked in the Walmart lot (with permission from them to leave the car in their lot for two weeks).
Greyhound has direct service from San Francisco to Arcata, with stops at Oakland, Santa Rosa, Laytonville and Eureka.
Weed has Greyhound service.
Chico has Amtrak, Greyhound and commercial air service.

Other Thoughts

a. We rode clockwise. In hindsight, we wish we had gone counter-clockwise, in order to have the inevitable northwestern coastal winds at our backs. If you take the trip in October and start in Willows or Chico, traveling counter-clockwise will also reduce the risk that you will hit snow at Lassen, since you’ll be there earlier in the trip. If you travel early in the season, starting when Lassen still has snow, you might be forced to travel clockwise in order to delay your arrival at Lassen; if you have a choice however, counter-clockwise would be the best direction.
b. We passed through a lot of timber lands, and are surprised and pleased to report that the lumber trucks were amazingly polite to us, and consistently slowed way down in order to pass by us. In some of the forests, the dirt roads used to service active harvest areas are watered down every day, so there is no dust – WOW!
c. Not sure how this happened, but neither of us was ever chased by a dog – not once on the entire trip. What a nice break!
d. We enjoyed this route so much that we have already spent many hours studying the AAA Northern California and USFS maps searching for other 400-1000 mile loops that visit slightly different areas in Northern California. So many choices, so little time. It’s a very beautiful unpopulated part of the world, with diverse scenery and quiet roads.
e. Many of the rivers you visit in the coast ranges are protected as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (, including the Eel, Klamath, and Trinity Rivers. These are important salmon and steelhead rivers (bring your fly fishing gear if appropriate) and are very beautiful places. From bridges we could stop and watch huge salmon swimming in the tributary creeks below.
f. One of the primary (or maybe the biggest) industries in Mendocino and Humboldt counties is marijuana cultivation. Associated with this is a population that is well left of center – on the western half of this route you’ll see plenty of Tibetan prayer flags and organic milk, and few NRA stickers or hunters – it’s a very different culture than riding the Great Divide Route through the Rockies!
g. If you are not in easy driving distance of this route, your best bet is probably to take a plane, train, or bus to Chico or Reno and start there. You should be able to connect from Reno up to the southeast section of this route on quiet roads. You could fly/train/bus to Chico, but that would likely be more expensive than Reno.


We didn't take many photos. Andreas' site has better photos than any we took. Here are a few that show our rigs.

Day 1: Willows to Masterson Camp, Mendocino N.F.

a. 6955’ gain. 54 miles. Night spent at ~6200’ elevation.
b. Camped at USFS Masterson Group Camp. The gate to the campground was locked, so nobody else was there. The campground is ~1/4 mile off the road, in the woods, and has a water spigot, picnic tables, and pit toilets. Plaskett campground, which was open to car campers, is across the road, but we didn’t look at it to see if it is nicer than Masterson.
c. Food: There is no food available directly on route after you leave Willows. There is a café in Elk Creek a mile or two off route.
d. Road info: Paved until Alder Junction (at mile ~40), then high quality dirt for the next 14 miles to the campsite. All roads had little traffic, except the first few miles out of Willows, on which there were a surprising number of cars heading to an auto-race-track outside of town (although this may have been due to that fact that we were there on a Sunday morning.) The roads were well marked with no major navigation problems. The road names FH7 and CA-162 are the same – some maps use one, some use the other, and on the ground intersections might be marked with either. To simplify navigation to the point that you wouldn’t need the Mendocino NF map, you could skip the 21N07 section and just stay on FH7; 21N07 runs parallel to FH7, and its only advantage is that it is a more minor road with a little less traffic.
e. Water availability:
i. Stony Creek crossing at mile ~21 (water available in creek).
ii. There is almost certainly water available at Alder Springs Station (1/2 mile off route at mile ~40) but we didn’t check. Alder Springs Station is a fire station and correctional facility.
iii. Masterson Group Camp.

f. Miscellaneous Notes: There is an overlook with a reasonable place for a picnic meal (or rough camp) at the Rattlesnake Firefighter Memorial, at mile ~35, at 2800’ elevation.

Day 2: Masterson Camp to Branscomb

a. 4530’ gain, 70 miles. Night spent at ~1600’ elevation
b. Camped in a rough camp in Admiral Standley State Recreation Area, which is a mile or two before the mill town of Branscomb. We camped 100 yards off the road in a redwood grove. We don’t think there is a formal campground in this Recreation Area.
c. Food: Groceries and cafes in Covelo (mile ~31) and Laytonville. There is a small store with limited hours at the RV park at the junction of the Black Butte River and the Eel River (mile ~20) There is also a small store with limited hours in Branscomb.
d. Road info: High quality dirt for 20 miles until reaching Eel River, including a fantastic long downhill run on smooth dirt. Paved until Dos Rios (mile ~46). High quality dirt for 13 miles to Laytonville (mile ~59). Paved after Laytonville. All roads were quiet with little traffic, except the few miles near the town of Covelo. Intersections were well marked and navigation was not a problem.
e. Water availability:
i. Black Butte River Ranch (mile ~20)
ii. Dos Rios (river water)
iii. In towns of Covelo, Laytonville, and Branscomb
f. Miscellaneous Notes: There is a forest reserve off route near Branscomb called Angelo Coast Range Reserve, managed by UC Berkeley.
This was the first Nature Conservancy acquisition in California, and protects an old growth Redwood and Doug Fir forest. We didn’t go there, but if you have time it may be worth a visit, as many of the forests you will see on this trip will have been logged at some point in the past.

Day 3: Branscomb to near Usal/Briceland Road junction

a. 6825’ gain, 48 miles. Night spent at ~1600’ elevation
b. Camped in a rough camp near mile 23.5 on Usal Road. (~1.5 miles shy of the Briceland junction).
c. Food: There is a small, expensive store in Westport, 2 miles south off route on Highway 1.
d. Road info: The Google map on Andreas’ site in the Usal Road area is messed up, as it loops back southeast from Usal Road to Leggett. You want to take Usal Road all the way to Briceland Road, and then follow the paved roads directly to Redway. I believe the profile on Andreas’ site might also be flawed starting at about km 100. The hills matched his profile until that point, but I don’t think we experienced those final climbs to 600 and 700 meters.
Paved until reaching the Usal Road turnoff mile ~24. Usal Road is dirt for 25 miles, until reaching Briceland Road junction. The Branscomb road is paved and most of it is relatively quiet. Highway 1 had some traffic, but it was not too bad when we were there.
Here’s some important information about Usal Road: It is never called Usal road except on the map. On the ground it is called #431 and is reasonably frequently marked as such with small road-side tags. The turnoff from highway 1 is a very sharp uphill left-hand turn ~1/4 mile after crossing a creek on a bridge. There are no road-signs calling it Usal Road, except possibly for some faded painted marks on the pavement. The tags while you are on Usal Road give mileage, with the intersection with Highway 1 at mile 0, and the intersection with Briceland Road at mile 25.09. With the exception mentioned below (Usal Creek) the road stays high and has no creeks or access to water or the beach.
The Google map instructions once you are on Usal Road are irrelevant. There are MANY junctions with logging roads. At many of these junctions Usal Road is marked with a small 431 tag, sometimes placed as much as 100 yards after the junction. At other junctions, you just take the route that appears to be the better used road.
The southern 5 miles of Usal Road is high quality dirt, usable by any car. The next 20 miles are mixed, with some quite rough and rutted stretches that would be difficult even for an SUV. We saw several vehicles on the first 5 miles, but no vehicles for the next 20 miles.
Five miles north of the highway 1/ Usal Road junction is a campground and beach access where Usal Road crosses Usal Creek. The campground does not have a water spigot, and by mid-summer Usal Creek will be dry (at least it was bone dry when we were there in October). This campground is one of only a few beach access points on this whole northern California Loop route. Just past this point is a second portion of the campground. Here the road splits in four directions; Usal road is straight ahead and is signposted as “not passable”; ignore this sign.

e. Water availability:
i. Westport (off route)
ii. Probably Westport Union Landing State Beach. (We didn’t look.)
iii. The creek ¼ mile south of the Usal Road / Highway 1 junction will have surface water in the spring and early summer, and possibly into the fall (we didn’t check when we crossed the bridge.)
iv. Usal Creek in the campground will have surface water in spring, but at some point during the summer it dries out.

f. Miscellaneous Notes:
i. Usal Road is a lovely remote road. It is never flat, and it’s the hardest stretch of the trip in terms of elevation change and road quality. Don’t underestimate how long these 25 miles will take.
ii. After crossing Usal creek and passing through a camp/picnic area and a signed trailhead, there is a road junction. Continue straight to stay on 431 (not right through more campground area, or left on an another unmarked road through more campground area.)
iii. If you are there in the spring you should be able to get water from Usal Creek. But don’t count on any water on the whole 25 miles of Usal Road if you are there later in the season.
iv. There is a somewhat stark and not very attractive campground at Westport Union Landing State Beach. There is a more isolated and nicer (illegal?) rough camp on the beach at the bridge a few hundreds yards north of the junction of Branscomb Road and Highway 1.
v. If you’ve got time there is a very worthwhile side trip. Take the Bear Harbor Road down to the Sinkyone Widerness State Park visitor center and campgrounds and beach. (Bear Harbor Road goes toward the ocean from the Usal/Briceland intersection.) It’s a lovely area down there, and the road runs along the coastal bluff grasslands, with stunning near-ocean views, unlike the Usal Road which is up high in the woods with few ocean views. Although this Nor Cal Loop route is fairly near the coast, there are few stretches right on the ocean, and this Bear Harbor Road would be the prettiest coastal stretch on this route.
Photos of Bear Harbor Road

Day 4: Usal/Briceland Road junction to Honeydew

a. 4180’ gain, 70 miles. Night spent at ~400’ elevation
b. Camped at marked Honeydew Creek BLM Campground, about 1.75 miles off-route south of the town of Honeydew on Wilder Ridge Road. No water source other than the creek.
c. Food: Full size grocery store in Redway. Small stores in Miranda, Myers Flat, and Honeydew. Cafes in Redway and Miranda (but no cafes in Myers Flat or Honeydew). No services in Whitethorn or Briceland. “The Groves” upscale casual restaurant in Myers Flat serves dinner 5PM-9PM Thursday to Monday. Phillipsville has a roadhouse (Riverwood Inn) open at 3PM Mondays-Thursdays and 11AM Fridays-Sundays.
d. Road info: All paved. Briceland Road was busier than we expected with speeding cars once every minute or two, especially as we got closer to Redway. Briceland road has no shoulder for some stretches, so ride with caution. The few miles on 101 was not pleasant but at least had a very wide shoulder. All other roads were very quiet and very enjoyable.
e. Water availability: Tap water in all towns that have shops. Redwoods State Park HQ near Weott. Occasional access to river water between Whitethorn and Redway and again at the Mattole River at Honeydew.
f. Miscellaneous Notes:
i. Humboldt Redwoods State Park has three campgrounds, two on Avenue of the Giants and one on the Mattole Road. According to their website, all have coin-operated showers and treated water.
ii. You could take a shortcut to Honeydew by following the Wilder Ridge and Ettersburg-Honeydew Road instead of dropping east to Redway. We believe that shortcut is all paved (but not sure), and is probably a beautiful and quiet road. But if you do that you’ll miss the ride through the old-growth redwood groves, which is lovely and very worthwhile. You could also continue on Usal/Chemise Mountain Road and on to Kings Peak Road, rather than turning onto Briceland Road; we don’t know the road conditions for that route. [Usal Road and Chemise Mountain Road are described in “Guide to California Backroads & 4-WD Trails” by Wells, available at Mountain View Library – we could add details from that book to this document.]

Day 5: Honeydew to Eureka

a. 5590’ gain, 64 miles. Night spent at sea level.
b. Motel – Discovery Inn, 2832 Broadway in Eureka. There are many motels on this strip, and we picked this one because it was cheap, had on-site laundry, and had a row of rooms set well back from the main road and was therefore fairly quiet; if you stay there be sure to get a room in the back. Shopping plaza and grocery stores are <1/2 mile away to the south. We aren’t familiar with Eureka and don’t know if there is a motel in the older down-town area; we were told all the motels are on this strip of road.
c. Food: Small store in Petrolia. Cafes and groceries in Ferndale. We think Loleta has a small store, but could be wrong. Eureka has all possible services.
d. Road info: All paved. Very quiet low traffic roads until you get to Ferndale. Ferndale to Eureka included some busy road sections. There are surface streets in Eureka that are quieter than the described route, but not until you get pretty far north into the town.
e. Water availability: Petrolia store. There might be water in Bear River at Capetown (we didn’t check to see if it was flowing or dry, but there are no other services in Capetown (it’s a label on the map, not a town).
f. Miscellaneous Notes:
i. This is a lovely lonely stretch of road with nice views of the coast. The winds are consistently from the North to Northwest and they are usually steady and strong, especially for the stretch of road along the coast and in the flats between Ferndale and Eureka. We worked very hard on this day just to keep moving forward. You also climb “The Wall”, a couple of kilometers of 15-18% grade starting at the north end of the coastal stretch.
ii. The stretch of road directly on the coast is visually beautiful, but quite disappointing because it is all fenced cattle land (with no trespassing signs) and there appears to be no public access to the beach, even though you are riding through the dunes adjacent to the beach. We didn’t study it carefully, but it looked like it would be tough or impossible to stealth camp in that area without being quite visible and very obviously crossing fences.
iii. Ferndale is a funky upscale town with nice shops and inns. The parts of Eureka we saw were either strip mall or worn out, although we didn’t leave the route and don’t know what the rest of town was like. Just north of Eureka is Arcata, which is a university town and a bastion of old and young hippies, similar in tone to Berkeley. There is one old hotel in Arcata (on the main square) which is expensive (~$100/night) and at least one other motel downtown, and there are several at the 101 interchange north of town.
iv. The Google map on Andreas’ site is a bit mangled in the area between Fernbridge and Eurkea. That route doesn’t work because one of the roads is a private gated farm road. The better routing would be this: after crossing the bridge at Fernbridge, immediately turn left onto Fernbridge Drive and take that for ½ mile to Eel River Drive; turn left onto Eel River Drive (instead of right onto Singley Hill Road as per Andreas’ instructions); take Eel River Drive north through Lolita until it crosses 101 (about 5 miles) and dead-ends at Thomkins Hill Road where you re-join the published route. Left on Thomkins Hill Road, which you then follow north for 3 miles until you are forced onto 101.

Day 6: Eureka to Hoopa

a. 6500’ gain, 60 miles. Night spent at ~400’ elevation
b. Rough Camp on a gravel bed on the Trinity River very near the bridge over the river, right in the town of Hoopa.
c. Food: Full size grocery store and cafe in Hoopa. Full size grocery store and cafes just off route in Arcata. Very good coffee shop with muffins on route in Blue Lake (and maybe groceries there too, we didn’t check). Nothing between Blue Lake and Hoopa.
d. Road info: High quality dirt for 19 miles (mile 29-33 and again 37-52). Rest is paved. All roads were beautiful quiet low traffic roads. Most of the roads were marked and navigation was not a problem. However, the left turn onto Snow Camp Road from Bald Mountain Road is not identified as such; Snow Camp is marked as straight ahead at this intersection.
e. Water availability: Tap water in Arcata, Blue Lake and Hoopa. Creek water at the Redwood Creek crossing (but it’s fenced and signed and requires trespassing to get to it).
f. Miscellaneous Notes:
i. The Google map on Andreas’ site is messed up around Bald Mountain and Snow Camp Roads, since Google doesn’t recognize that Snow Camp Road connects all the way from 299 to the Bald Mountain intersection. The AAA map shows the roads correctly.
ii. If you don’t want to go into the town of Arcata, there is a quiet bypass route. If you carry the AAA Eureka/Arcata street map you will be able to pick out a quieter route that skirts the west and north edges of Arcata.

Day 7: Hoopa to 9 miles east of Somes Bar

a. 3795’ gain and 41 miles for Amy who didn’t follow route. Longer and ~2000 feet of additional gain Jim who did follow Andreas’ dirt route. Night spent at ~1000’ elevation. Amy took the paved highway 96 from Hoopa to Orleans.
b. Camped in a rough camp next to the Salmon River, 9 miles east of Somes Bar.
c. Food: small shops in Weitchpec (Amy’s route), Orleans and Somes Bar. Café in Orleans.
d. Road info: Amy wanted a rest day and so stayed on the paved road (highway 96) from Hoopa to Orleans. It was a beautiful low-traffic ideal paved road that stayed fairly close to the river.
Jim took the dirt through the mountains that Andreas described from Hoopa to Orleans. The official route through the mountains is the first stretch of the trip on a road not shown on the AAA Northern California map. It is very poorly marked (none of the usual Forest Service road number tags) and the dirt road has at least three significant junctions that are unmarked and could cause confusion. There are many other intersections with other roads leading off the route, but it is relatively easy to decide which road to take in these other cases. The first confusing junction is where the road has two forks leading almost directly away from the route you have been following. Between the two forks is a large tree with paint on its trunk. Follow the right hand fork here. The second is another unmarked fork. There is a large, permanent forest service sign at this junction, that stated that “burning permits were required”. Go left here. Finally, maybe half a mile after passing the first well signposted intersection and climbing a short rocky section of road, there is yet another fork, with the left branch leading slightly uphill; take the right branch which will soon start a long downhill run. Keep in mind that the area is a rat’s nest of old logging roads. Keep track of where you are going and if you get lost, backtrack. There was no traffic at all.
After Orleans the roads were all paved, beautiful and quiet.
e. Water availability: Tap water at stores in Weitchpec, Orleans and Somes Bar. Occasional access to Klamath River water on 96 (Amy’s route). Occasional access to Salmon River water once you are east of Somes Bar.
f. Miscellaneous Notes: Although 96 looks like a main road on the map, it is reasonably quiet and very lovely.

Day 8: East of Somes Bar to Callahan

a. 6700’ gain, 56 miles. Night spent at ~3200’ elevation
b. Camped in a rough camp hidden in some bushes off the road ¼ mile from the store in town.
c. Food: Small store in Callahan which might have deli food during some hours (but not while we were there). We believe there are also very small stores with limited hours in Forks of Salmon and Cecilville (we didn’t see them but were told they exist). Cecilville had a small café with limited hours.
d. Road info: All paved, and all beautiful quiet low traffic roads. Well marked and no navigation problems. Great riding near the big river. Fantastic descent from Park Creek Summit into Callahan on a perfectly surfaced road with almost no traffic.
e. Water availability: Access to river water at numerous places. Probably tap water in Forks of Salmon and Cecilville.
f. Miscellaneous Notes:
i. This is paved road riding at its finest.
ii. Callahan is not really a town, but an old ranch that used to have a hotel and store. The hotel is dilapidated, but the store is still there. The food selection in the store is quite limited.

Day 9: Callahan to Weed

a. 6180’ gain, 45 miles. Night spent at ~3200’ elevation
b. Motel – Hi Lo Motel, which was cheap but was bit noisy and didn’t have a great bed. Maybe try the motel across the street? Hi Lo is popular with the truckers whose diesel engines make a lot of noise. Laundry is a block from the motel.
c. Food: Full size grocery and several restaurant options in Weed. We ate at the Hi Lo Diner, which had big portions, good food, and good prices.
d. Road info: All paved. Well marked and no navigation problems. The first stretch, on route 3 had some traffic; then the stretch on route 17 was very quiet. The road Google maps and Andreas call “I P Road” is marked 17 on the ground, USFS and AAA maps.
e. Water availability:
Callahan shop (when open, not sure if there is an external spigot) & Weed. There might be access to water in Trinity River on the western part of Road 17.

Day 10: Weed to Grizzly Peak Road near Stout Meadows

a. 5345’ gain, 54 miles. Night spent at ~5500’ elevation
b. Camped in a rough camp amongst the Manzanitas, bear scat and bear tracks about a mile from Stout Meadow.
c. Food: No services on route. There is a café about 2 miles off route on highway 89 in Bartle.
d. Road info: 14 miles on highway 97 had a fair bit of traffic, including lots of big rig trucks. Portions of this road had no shoulder heading east, but there was usually a good shoulder on the west-bound side, so we rode against traffic in places. Then 28 miles on dirt, sometimes sandy or loose volcanic gravel. Then 3 miles on paved highway 89 with no shoulder and some truck traffic. Then 9 miles on high quality dirt.

The first dirt section passes along the beautiful eastern flank of Mount Shasta. On the Google map it is called Military Pass Road and then Military Road. At the turnoff from 89 it was marked Military Pass Road, but that is the last time we saw that road name being used. On the USFS map and on the ground it is called 43N19. We did not follow exactly the routing on Andreas’ Google map. Andreas’ map keeps you on what Google calls Military Pass Road which is not always concurrent with 43N19. There were many intersections, and to simplify things we just followed 19 instead of some of the more minor roads used on Andreas’ route. The intersection of 19 and 13 is a major junction and is marked. If you take 19 like we did, then upon reaching 13 (which is paved) turn right (SW toward McLeod) for 1000’ and then turn left onto what Google calls “Military Road” but on the ground and USFS map it is still 43N19. Follow this road SSE until you reach the highway. You should carry an up-to-date Shasta NF map or you might have trouble sorting it out. When we were there on a weekday in October, there was a fair bit of traffic (perhaps a dozen vehicles).

The second dirt section follows what Google calls Grizzly Peak Road and Summit Lake Road south from 89 to Britton Reservoir. We tried to make our way through this section, but once we reached Stout Meadows we could not sort out this route on the ground and were forced to back-track to highway 89. We had an old USFS map, but no topo maps. There are numerous logging road intersections and active logging in the area. There are many new unmapped logging roads and inconsistent or missing road tags. We never saw any references to Grizzly Peak Road or Summit Lake Road on the ground. Even after studying the Google Maps satellite images back home, we could see exactly where we were but could not see how to make it connect to where we wanted to go. Also, some of the roads marked on our old Forest Service maps are not maintained and are now overgrown (the newer version of the USFS map is undoubtedly more accurate for current conditions than the old map we carried).

Rather than trying to find Summit Lake Road as per Andreas’ routing, we recommend this alternative:

Take Grizzly Peak Road (aka 39N06) from highway 89, as per Andreas’ routing, but continue over the top of Grizzly Peak and all the way to the junction with 38N11 (aka 11). Take 11 southeast to Big Bend. From there, take either 37 or 50 (aka 37N60Y) to Lake Britton, where you meet Clark Creek Road. 11, 37, and 50 are all shown on the AAA map. The AAA map does not show the road connection from Grizzly Peak to 11, but it is shown on the USFS map and also described in “Backcountry Adventures Northern California” by Massey and Wilson (which we found in our local library).

e. Water availability:
i. The only surface water between Weed and highway 89 was at the Ash Creek crossing on FR19 about 2.5 miles north of the intersection with 13. It had water in October of a dry year and therefore should be reliable. The routing on Andreas Google map does not pass this point, although there may be water where Andreas’ route crosses the same creek.
ii. There is water in the McLeod River at Algoma USFS campground, one mile south of 89 on 36N06. There may be a water pump there as well, we didn’t look.
iii. South of 89, heading up toward Grizzly Peak on 39N06, there is a healthy flow of water (even in October following a low snow-pack winter) where the dirt road fords a creek at elevation 4920’ (near the Siskiyou/Shasta county border).

Day 11: Grizzly Peak Road to 5 miles S of Burney

a. ~4000’ gain, 59 miles (but we left the route here, so that info is not accurate in terms of defining the route). Night spent at ~3600’ elevation
b. Camped in a rough camp 100 yards off Tamarack Road.
c. Food: Full size grocery and several restaurants in Burney.
d. Road info: We eventually retraced our path from Stout Meadow back to 89 and took paved 89 to Clarks Creek Road, where we reconnected with the official route. By our route, once we had retraced our steps back to 89, it was all paved except for the 6 miles of dirt on Black Ranch Road, and for 3 miles of dirt on Tamarack. Following the routing we suggest in the Day 11 section, the road would be primarily dirt. Highway 89 has too much traffic to make it optimal for cycling.
e. Water availability:
i. McCarthur Burney Falls State Park.
ii. Burney
f. Miscellaneous Notes:
i. We did not stop at Burney Falls State Park to see the falls. We’ve since been told that the falls are lovely and well worth the stop.
ii. If you are an astronomy aficionado, or have an interest in SETI, you might want to take a slightly different route between Burney and Lassen. The SETI Allen Telescope Array is in this area, a few miles east of Hat Creek on route 22, and they welcome visitors. We have not been there, but did attend an interesting SETI lecture at our local community college that piqued our interest.
iii. If you don't mind carrying a fair bit of food and you prefer to avoid towns, you should stock up in Burney with enough food to get to Chico, enabling you to avoid the side trip to Chester.

Day 12: South of Burney to Lassen National Park Southwest Campground

a. 7315’ gain, 56 miles Night spent at ~3600’ elevation
b. Camped in Lassen National Park Southwest Walk-in Campground at the southern entrance to the park, near the visitor center.
c. Food: There are small shops at the north and south entrance to Lassen NP, but these were already closed for the season when we were there. Otherwise, no services today.
d. Road info: The first stretch was 20 miles of high quality dirt. Then 4 miles of paved highway 44/89 with a little traffic. Then on paved 89 through the park. When we were there in October there was very little traffic on 89 inside the park. Commercial vehicles are not permitted in the park so there were no large trucks.
e. Water availability: Park entrance stations and campgrounds within Lassen NP.
f. Miscellaneous Notes:
i. We didn’t quite follow Andreas’ route from Burney to highway 89. After turning from highway 299 onto Tamarack Road, we stayed on the primary southbound dirt road (what Google calls Tamarack Road) all the way to the Jacks Backbone area (~13 miles), rather than following Andreas’ route turning eastward at ~3800’ on to FR24 and 23 and 22. We rejoined his routing at about elevation 4880’ where FR34N19 joins Tamarack Road. Then, we crossed the high point and started heading down, using the same route Andreas used. But we stayed on FR16 SE all the way to the highway rather than turning SW at ~6040 feet. (Note that Google calls the route we took 17 even though it is called 16 on the ground and on the USFS map.) In summary, we stayed on the major fairly direct dirt road, rather than taking the lesser roads that Andreas recommended.
ii. FR17 is an alternative to the paved road in Lassen National Park. 17 runs from highway 44 south to highway 36. The road through the NP does not allow commercial vehicles and the stated speed-limit is 35. However it has no shoulder, and during the peak summer season can have lots of traffic. FR17 is west of Lassen Peak, outside the National Park. It is clearly shown on the Lassen NF map, highlighted in yellow as part of the “California Backcountry Discovery Trail”. The 17 Road has areas where the view is all across the valley to the Coast Range, whereas 89 thru the Park is more interesting geologically. 17 is through managed timber lands, whereas the forests inside the National Park are not harvested.

Day 13: Lassen National Park southern boundary to Snag Lake

a. 4555’ gain, ~60 miles. Night spent at ~5600’ elevation
b. Camped in rough camp at Snag Lake, Lassen National Forest. This was a very attractive meadow when we were there, but there was no lake and no water.
c. Food: Chester, which is the last source of food until Chico.
d. Road info: The first stretch was a long downhill run on paved 89. Then 19 miles of high quality dirt. Then a paved side trip into Chester for groceries. South of Chester was 34 miles of high quality dirt.
e. Water availability: Chester. Lost Creek/Butt Creek junction ~10 miles south of Chester on Humboldt Road (see note below). (We didn’t take notes about water availability after that and don’t remember.)
f. Miscellaneous Notes:
i. We didn’t quite follow Andreas’ route in the Lost Creek Plateau and Creek area. Rather than taking the lesser roads that Andreas recommended (which were not shown on the USFS map), we stayed on Lost Creek Road past Willow Springs Campground and south along Lost Creek.
ii. For the first few miles south from Chester, Andreas route follows the road very close to 89. We took the one shown on the USFS map that is about a mile west of 89 because the satellite image of the one Andreas mapped looked like it didn’t connect. Looking at Google Satellite image, we believe that the road (28N36) about 3-4 miles west of 89 would be more scenic, as it follows Lost Creek and some meadows, and passes near a USFS campground.
iii. If you don’t need to go into Chester for food, you could simply cross highway 89 at Soldier Meadows and continue ~6 miles to rejoin Andreas route via 28N36. Taking this route would mean riding all the way from Burney to Chico without passing through any sizable towns (i.e. no towns with grocery stores).
iv. There is water in Lost Creek where Humboldt Road crosses, at 4640’ elevation. It is a lovely valley. (Water was flowing when we were there in October of a dry year, so this water should be reliable.) Humboldt Road west of the crossing of Lost Creek, following Butt Creek to Humboldt Summit at 6610’ is lovely. The two Ruffa Ranch locations on the USFS map are old abandoned homestead buildings.
v. Riding south on Humboldt Road from the summit, you reach the Jonesville Road, called 26N27 on the USFS map. A right turn would put you on pavement. A left turn, which the route takes, keeps you on dirt. Notice the tag for the Backcountry Discovery Trail, which you’ll follow for a couple miles. When you reach Humbug Road, the Backcountry Discovery Trail goes north, but you go south.

Day 14: Snag Lake to Willows

a. 1235’ gain, ~75 miles.
b. Food:. Chico is the first place with services since leaving Chester. You pass through several towns/settlements (Inskip, Stirling City, Loveloc, De Sabla) but we didn’t see any stores.
c. Road info: The first stretch was ~ 8 miles of high quality dirt. The rest is paved, except 5 miles of varying quality and often rocky dirt on Centerville Road.
d. Water availability: Maybe something before Chico (we didn’t take notes). No water between Chico and Willows (unless you want to pull water from the canals).
e. Miscellaneous Notes:
The entire ride from Chester to Chico was lovely, especially in October when the Maples and Dogwoods in the understory were in full color. There are a few miles of busy roads in Chico, but not too bad. Chico to Willows is flat riding through commercial orchards, most of it on quiet roads.