Distance: 23.5-mile loop
Elevation gain: 1980 ft
The country west of Paso Robles is a network of sweet, meandering roads with mostly vineyards for backdrop. This route is the best loop ride in the area and probably the easiest, a charming, pretty ramble that includes a particularly joyful 6-mile stretch of rollercoaster.
Adelaida is a fairly major artery through the Paso wine country, so traffic is an issue. You’re going to meet a lot of cars if you ride during rush hour or on a weekend. I drove it at 9 am on a weekday and had to pull over frequently to let mobs of cars pass. Then I rode it at 11 am on a weekday and pretty much had the road to myself, seeing only the occasional farm or service vehicle.
This ride is equally good done another way, so be sure to see the Alternate route discussion below.
Park at the intersection of Nacimiento Lake Rd. and Adelaida Rd.—there’s a small but nice dirt pull-out. You immediately do all the real work on the route, a steady, easy-to-moderate 5-mile climb that gains 910 ft. (c. 3.5%). It’s a mellow enough pitch that it’s easy to warm up on it. The roadside scenery is a mix of nice oak woods, vineyards, and nice vistas of the valley to the north. Chimney Rock Rd. runs right through the middle of that valley, so you’re looking down at the second half of your route. I always like rides that let you see where you’ve been or where you’re going. Note the tiny lake in the center of the panorama (visible in the center of my photo if you click on it to enlarge)—you will ride right past it later.
After two false summits you reach the real summit, at Adelaida Vineyards, and you begin the 6 miles of pure delight. The road surface is glass, the scenery is beautiful (oak forest canopy), and the road contour is the aforesaid rollercoaster, a moderate descent that constantly dips, turns, rises, drops… This isn’t a hang-on-and-plummet-style descent—it’s a 2-5% pitch that begs you to attack it via aggressive pedaling.
At 9 miles you intersect with Vineyard Dr., and for the next brief leg overlap the Santa Rita/Cypress Mountain Road route, from Vineyard to the intersection with Klau Mine Rd., though you’re riding it in the opposite direction.
At 11 miles you dead-end on Chimney Rock Rd. and everything changes. CRR is the opposite of Adelaida in every respect. Adelaida is primarily wine country, so the terrain rolls and homes are “estates.” CRR is grassy, flatter cattle-country valley floor, and the homes are, ahem, unpretentious. The road surface of CRR is consistently poor—not bad enough to make you dread it, but a definite burr under the saddle after Adelaida’s glass. I like it, especially after a steady diet of Paso vineyards. There is enough up and down and back and forth to keep the profile interesting. Supposedly there is a Chimney Rock, smack at the end of CRR where it meets Nacimiento Lake Rd., but I missed it.
At that intersection, go R to join Hwy G14, aka Nacimiento Lake Dr., a wide, very busy, open highway with a shoulder that varies from wide to nothing and a ride profile that is my least favorite: long, gradual, tedious rollers—a road utterly without merit. Endure it for 6 miles back to your car.
Alternate route: Since Chimney Rock Road is a definite step down from Adelaida, and Nacimiento Lake Dr. a big step below that, you can just ride the sweet stuff by riding to Vineyard Dr. and turning around. It’s slightly shorter (c. 18 mi.) and a bit more vert. The leg from Vineyard to the summit (the rollercoaster in reverse) is almost as much fun ascending as it was descending, an almost effortless climb that’s never the same pitch for more than 50 ft, and at 8-10 mph you’ll appreciate the scenery more than you did at 20-25 mph. This way you also get the descent from the summit to your car, which is pretty straight, pretty fast, and very nice.
Shortening the route: Ride from Vineyard Dr. to the summit and back.
Adding miles: This ride overlaps the Santa Rita Rd./Cypress Mountain Rd. ride briefly and is a short ride from the top of the Peachy Canyon Road ride via Vineyard Dr. For other riding options in the Paso Robles area, see the “Adding Miles” section of the Peachy Canyon Road ride and the discussion of Paso Robles as a riding destination in the “Planning the One-Week Bicycle Vacation” section of Bestrides’ home page.