Distance: 50 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 8000 ft
This is one of seven rides (all detailed in the Adding Miles section below) that are worth doing around Boonville, a charming little town with good food and an interesting history, so I encourage you to find a place to stay in the area, make a cycling holiday out of it, and do all of them.
This ride is tough. It may be one of the two hardest climbs in Bestrides (the other being Gilbraltar Road). And the road surface is mostly shaky. And there are only two rather ordinary “views,” despite the road’s name—the rest of the time, all you can see is the greenery on either side of the road. The scenery is typical coastal forest—no better, no worse. So it’s mostly about bragging rights, the sense of adventure, and the two charming towns at either end. Philo-Greenwood Road just to the north is easier and prettier and has a better surface.
(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.)
(Elevation profile is for the outbound ride only.)
Let’s make sure you know what you’re in for. Total elevation gain on the ride: 8000 ft. Elevation gain in the first 5.6 miles of climbing: 2540 ft. Pitch on the first big climb: average 10%, peaking at 16%. Throughout the first 15 miles, 10% pitches are routine. The good news is, once you summit the third divide at 15 miles, it’s a 9-mile descent to Hwy 1, and coming back is comparatively easy, with gentler pitches than those on the ride out. The road surface is moment to moment—one moment glassy, the next poor. It’s glassy in the first 2 miles, which means you get a heavenly, blistering 10% descent as a capper to the ride. There’s a sewer-line repavement strip along much of the route which is usually your best bet for escaping the worst of the roughness.
Start in Boonville. Ride Mountain View Rd. to Manchester on Highway 1. Ride back. You’ll see a car every mile or two, but the sense of isolation is delicious.
A pleasant way to make the ride easier is to overnight in Point Arena just down Highway 1 from your intersection to the south, a charming, Cape Cod-ish throwback of a fishing town with a lighthouse and inexpensive lodging, then ride back on Mountain View Rd. the next day. I recommend the Wharfmaster’s Inn.
The Boonville area offers you a remarkable 7 rides worth doing. In addition to Mountain View Rd. and Philo-Greenwood Rd., which have their own Bestrides posts, there are five others:
1) Hwy 128 from Boonville to the ocean is dead easy and is in the running for Prettiest Road in California (see the Mendocino/Comptche ride for details).
2) Hwy 128 eastward from Boonville to Cloverdale (30 miles) is a lush, easy meander through a garden-like landscape, much of it along the Rancheria Creek valley. It’s marred by a slightly elevated level of traffic and the shoulder is minimal, but the two-lane road is wide enough that cars can pass safely without leaving their lane. I would add it to Bestrides in a heartbeat if the traffic was a little lighter.
3) About 7 miles from Cloverdale, Mountain House Road takes off from 128 to the L and runs 9 miles to Hopland. It’s a pleasant, mild descent (heading north) through standard Coast Range foothill vistas of grass and shrub and oak with next-to-no traffic.
4) The Ukiah-Boonville Rd., Hwy 253, just south of Boonville (unsigned at the Boonville end) is not my favorite ride, but it’s worth doing once. It’s 17 miles (one way) of big, fast, busy, wide two-lane through the same landscape as Mountain House Road. The road contour is designed for 50-60 mph (the motorcyclists must love it), so it isn’t exciting on a bike until the descent. Heading east, it’s a 6-mile moderate climb, then 4 miles of pleasant nearly flat across the summit, then 7 miles of very fast, serpentining 8-10% descent to Hwy 101. The ride back up that hill is work. The route is mainly unshaded, so don’t do it on a hot summer afternoon.
5) Running from Hopland to Clear Lake, Hwy 175 (Hopland Road) is a classic big training climb—straight up and down, 17.5 miles one way, 2400 ft of vert in the first 10 miles, and an incredible descent down the back side, with big vistas along the way and not a long straightaway anywhere. The roadside scenery is mostly shrub. It would easily be in Bestrides if it weren’t for the traffic. It’s the only direct connector between south Clear Lake and Hwy 101, and it shows. A good ride for 7 am.
If you want to loop 175 but only want to ride the highway once, you can return by a great series of back roads: Highland Springs Rd., Younce Rd., and Old Toll Road. Here’s a map.
When you’re at the Hwy 1 end of Mountain View, you’re a stone’s throw north of a real rarity: a Northern California coastal road that runs north and south and thus isn’t a killer climb. It’s Ten Mile Rd. (take Eureka Hill Rd. out of Pt. Arena), and it’s pleasant but not great riding, with surprisingly dull scenery.