This 37-mile ride starts and ends at the Walnut Creek BART station, winding through off-road paved trails and city bike lanes to Martinez, around Port Costa, through Crocket, and back. The ride includes over 1200ft of elevation gain, with the bulk of climbing – along with the best panoramas – along Carquinez Scenic Dr/Snake Road. I have included a “shortcut” in this ride that will shave off 2-3 miles from the total distance and bring you through some more challenging natural terrain.
Lunch options abound! In Martinez, where you can stop at the Sunday Farmer’s market on Main St. from 10:00AM – 2:00PM. This time, we stopped at Luigi’s Deli and Market for well-priced custom sandwiches on local Semifreddi’s handcrafted bread and sundry 99-cent drinks. There’s also Creek Monkey gastropub. Although their lunch/dinner menu looks delightful with their microbrews, they only serve from brunch on Sundays, and you’re out of luck if you don’t eat eggs.
For a beer break, stop at Warehouse Café on the waterfront. It’s bikers, bikers, and more bikers – both the motorized and non-motorized variety, a large outdoor space to sprawl out beer-garden-style, and a taxidermy polar bear inside. Prices are a bit high, and portions small. Since it’s still winter and daylight hours were short, we didn’t stay here too long before climbing up and out of the park again.
In high summer, there can be minimal wind and high temperatures with few opportunities for shade once you’ve left the Contra Costa Trail. In autumn or spring, there can be slight headwinds heading towards the water.
START at Walnut Creek BART, head EAST on Ygnacio Valley Road, SECOND RIGHT on N Main St.
FIRST LEFT onto Arroyo Way, which turns into Iron Horse Regional Trail. This trail and the following constitute the next few miles of bike path away from cars.
After 1 mile on the bumpy trail, the paved section will end. Turn LEFT onto Contra Costa Canal Trail. Follow the trail for 6.5 miles.
At the end of the trail, turn RIGHT onto Muir Rd and in 0.2 miles, a quick LEFT onto Pacheco Blvd at the signal. You will have a very quick few seconds of a left-hand green signal for cars for this maneuver. The gas station on your right is a place to stop for stretch or bathroom break.
Follow Pacheco Blvd for 3.6 miles, until it turns into Jones St. RIGHT onto Pine St.
Pine turns into Court St in 0.3 miles.
Heading WEST on Main St or Escobar St, RIGHT on Talbart St and a SLIGHT LEFT onto Carquinez Scenic Drive for a slight climb.
This will bring you through an incredible section of road that has been closed to car traffic following a landslide. In the meantime, artists have taken to pavement murals, and you will have a quiet and safe panoramic view of the bay from your altitude.
In 4.9 miles, RIGHT on Reservoir St and in 0.4 miles RIGHT again onto Canyon Lake Dr. Warehouse Cafe (5 Canyon Lake Drive) will be at the end of this quick descent on the waterfront. Word of caution: if you decide to stop for beer and polar bear, you will have to climb more to get out of the park.
Now comes the climb!
For a shortcut and more challenging climb, we retraced our steps back to Reservoir St and across to McEwen Road. From Warehouse Cafe, this 3 mile ride brought some of us off our wheels and onto our feet for the ascent and descent. Bucolic pastures await on the other side of the forested mountain. LEFT at the end onto Frankling Canyon Rd and connect to the remaining directions below.
From Warehouse Cafe, continue on Canyon Lake Dr for 0.2 miles. Instead of turning left at the fork onto Reservoir St, STAY on Canyon Lake Dr until it reconnects to Carquinez Scenic Dr/Snake Road in another 0.2 miles.
In 1.6 miles, RIGHT onto Pomona St.
In 0.7 miles, LEFT onto Crockett Blvd.
In 0.2 miles, stay RIGHT at the fork onto Crockett Ranch Trail.
In 0.6 miles, LEFT on Cummings Skyway.
In 2.3 miles, LEFT on Franklin Canyon Rd.
In 3.2 miles, Alhambra Ave turns into Pleasant Hill Rd.
In 0.7 miles, LEFT onto Westover Dr and RIGHT onto Contra Costa Canal Trail.
In 1.8 miles, RIGHT onto Putnam Blvd, which immediately turns into Buena Vista Ave.
This ride was inspired by “Port Costa Loop” from Short Bike Rides in and around San Francisco (Kingman 1998, pg 124) and “Carquinez Strait Loop” from Bay Area Biking (Brown 2007, pg 95)