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, a charming, pretty, fairly easy ramble that includes the best 6 miles of road in all of Paso Robles, and as joyful a 6-mile stretch as any ride in Bestrides. But you must ride the loop in our direction—going the other way reduces the 6-mile stretch from magnificent to merely very good.
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.
Park at the intersection of Nacimiento Lake Rd. and Adelaida Rd.—there’s a 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. Everything after this is rollers. 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 little 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.
At the apparent summit, you begin the 6 miles of greatness, one of those rare perfect roller coasters where the road surface is glass, the scenery is beautiful (oak woods again), the turning, twisting, rising, falling never stops, and the descending pitch is just enough to keep you attacking the road without working. This is why you want to ride the loop in this direction—roller coasters don’t work well going backwards.
At 9 miles you overlap the Santa Rita/Cypress Mountain Road route briefly, from the intersection with Vineyard Dr. 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 the glory fades. At this point you might seriously consider turning around and making the ride an out-and-back, for two reasons: 1) 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; and 2) Chimney Rock Rd. ends at Nacimiento Lake Dr., leaving you an unpleasant last 6 miles. But there are rewards. CRR is the opposite of Adelaida in every respect. Besides the pavement: 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. 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, at the east end of the road, but I couldn’t find it.
At the end of CRR you 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.
Adding Miles: 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. 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.