Igo-Ono

Distance: 67 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 3910 ft

This is an out and back from a spot in the middle of a country road to the tiny town/store of Platina (pluh TIE nuh).  So why is it called the Igo-Ono Ride?  Because it goes through the tiny town of Ono, and the tiny town of Igo is one mile off the route, and it’s just tons of fun to say “Igo-Ono.”  “Halfway down Gas Point Road to Platina” just doesn’t have that ring.

I’m very fond of this ride.  It’s a lovely ride with a lot of nice climbing and descending, good vistas, little traffic, two (or three) classic country grocery stores, several photogenic barns, and not one unrewarding mile.  The only reason it isn’t in the Best of the Best list is because it lacks that big Selling Point—no redwoods, no world-class descents.

There are no unending climbs, but you will do some work.  Ignore Mapmyride’s elevation total:  I racked up 5700 ft of gain on the ride, including 3800 ft on the ride out—not insignificant for 33.5 miles.



(To see an interactive version of the map/elevation profile, click on the ride name, upper left, wait for the new map to load, then click on the “full screen” icon, upper right.)

The ride begins 12.5 miles down Gas Point Rd. from the “Gas Point Road” exit of Highway 5 in Cottonwood, CA.  Why there?  You know my methods, Watson…  The first 12.5 miles of Gas Point Rd. are dull.  Feel free to ride them—the scenery is OK (low-rent ranches), but they’re just flat, straight, pretty trafficky, lacking a shoulder, and not good enough for this list.  After 12.5 miles, Gas Point takes a sharp 90-degree turn to the right, paved Foster Rd. takes off at about 11 o’clock (there’s a sign), most of the traffic goes away, and Gas Point is transformed into a really swell, rollicking road that constantly reinvents itself.  There isn’t much parking room at the trailhead, but 20 ft before you reach the intersection there are dirt turn-outs on either side of the road, each with room enough for a couple of cars.

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Springtime on Gas Point Road

After 7 miles of perfectly charming riding on Gas Point, you enter a four-way intersection.  The road names here are confusing, because the four roads all have different names. You find you’ve been riding, not on Gas Point Rd., but on Veterans’ Memorial Drive (you’ll notice the cemetery).  On the other side of the intersection the road ahead of you becomes Placer Rd., and the crossing road is Platina Rd. to the L and Clear Creek Rd. to the R.  Luckily this is all clearly signed.  If you go straight onto Placer, in 1 mile you get to the tiny town of Igo.  If you’re a literalist you’ll want to know you actually went to Igo on the Igo-Ono ride, and it’s a lovely mile anyway, so I encourage you to do it.  There’s a nice country grocery store (store #1) and deli there.  But the official route goes L.  Now you just follow Platina Rd. until it dead-ends at Highway 36.  Then you ride back.

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Looks fake, but isn’t

Once on Platina Rd, the route offers a lovely variety.  In four miles you’ll go through the  tiny town of Ono, home of the cheekily named Ono Store and International Café (store #2).  The Ono town sign claims a population of 578, but you’ll wonder where they all are.  Leaving the bright lights behind, you roll through pretty horse farms, then into wilder valleys, the rollers getting bigger as you work your way up into the foothills of the Coast Range.  About 15 miles past Ono, you do a 1.7 mile ascent, at the end of which you burst out onto a saddle and suddenly you can see 50 miles of country on your left—across all the country you’ve ridden through, over the Sacramento valley, to Mt. Lassen and Broke-Off in the distance .   The next 6 miles are on a dead-flat road with great, expansive views on your left.  And because the terrain is quite hilly, to stay flat the road has to serpentine.  A lot.  Tons of fun.  With a little bump at the end you reach Hwy 36.  The town of Platina, which consists entirely of a tiny store (store #3), is a stone’s throw up 36 to your R.  They can even make you a sandwich or grill you a burger.

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Looking back on the first 30 miles of the ride, with Mt. Lassen in the distance

The ride back is a different, and better, ride than the ride out, faster and more flowing, and the five or so extended climbs coming out are now invigorating descents.   The return ride is not effortless—my computer recorded 1900 ft of climbing coming back.

Because this road doesn’t go from or to any place in particular, it’s very car-free (about a car every two miles on my last ride), though you’ll probably share it with motorcycles.

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Serious barn country

Adding miles: If you don’t like out-and-backs or just want to see some new country, you can turn L at Platina and ride east down Hwy 36 and work your way back to your car.  It’s a good ride, mostly downhill with a few large rollers on a bigger, straighter, shouldered highway remarkably free of traffic.  It’s easier but quite a bit longer—about 90 miles.

You can turn R at Platina and ride Highway 36 west.  Highway 36 has very little traffic for a highway, especially on weekdays, and you can theoretically ride all the way to the road’s end near Ferndale, if you’re touring.  It’s winding and beautiful, but tiring and endless (OK, only 95 miles), and there’s no natural turn-around point.

At the Veteran’s Memorial Drive/Platina intersection, all the roads going east and north are good, I’m told.  The most recommended ride would be down Placer Rd, through Igo, and just straight on.  About a mile past Centerville the road forks, and you can go either way.  The best route is to go L and ride to the town ruins of Shasta on Hi 299; then go R for ½ mile on 299 and go L on Iron Mountain Rd.  I’ll leave you to explore after that.  But everything east of Igo and west of 273 is worth exploring.

Across Highway 5 on the east side, starting around Anderson, is a warren of great roads, represented in our list by the Wildcat Road ride.

If you’re a mountain biker, the Redding area has developed into the one of the nation’s premier mtb trail systems.  The three main areas are the Hornbeck Trail, the Swasey Trail system, and the Whiskeytown Lake trail system.  In the first two, the tread is buttery smooth and perfect for novices.

Afterthoughts: There’s no water on this ride between Ono and Platina.   If you want to make the loop on Hwy 36, and you don’t want to go to the Platina store for water, shortly after heading south on 36 you’ll pass a large, friendly trailer park resort with a grocery store on your R.  I stopped there and asked for a Power Bar, and the owner said, “What’s a Power Bar?”  Welcome to the real Northern California.

Don’t try this ride on a summer day unless you start around 6 am.  The Redding area regularly sees 100+ degrees in the summer, and this ride is largely without shade.   It’s more pleasant and much prettier in the spring, when the horse farms are green.

There’s some forest-fire damage in the first 15 miles of this route, but it doesn’t impair the experience, and you soon ride out of it.

One thought on “Igo-Ono

  1. chicodavidrn

    Doing this road some years ago – one way from Platina down – as part of a longer tour inspired me to invent a new metric for rating rides – the car to deer ratio. In this case, I saw considerably more deer than cars. It’s a lovely ride – and great description of it.

    Reply

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