Distance: 21 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 2280 ft (RWGPS)
(A Best of the Best ride)
(A Best of the Best descent)
This, the most aptly named ride in our list, is the peachiest climb around Paso Robles (pronounced “PASS-o ROH-bulls,” called just “Paso” by locals), a region of good riding among hilly vineyards. It’s a lot like the Robinson Canyon ride—a perfect little two hours of climbing and descending.
Peachy Canyon Rd. has no extraordinary features, and there isn’t a “Wow” moment in the scenery (Robinson Canyon’s landscape is much more striking)—it’s just very nice, conventional riparian oak woodlands, nothing you haven’t seen before. It’s the road contour that makes the ride special, 21 miles of sweetly varied, always-interesting, not-too-hard up and down and back and forth on a perfect road surface. It’s so flawless it feels like a Virtual Reality ride.
(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.)
Peachy Canyon Rd. one way is a simple Bactrian Camel (i.e. two-humper) ride: climb/descend/climb/descend. The climbing is all moderate, though there is a fair amount of it (2280 ft of gain in 10.5 miles of up). The road works its way up a small creek canyon (at least it looks like a creek should be down there—I can’t see any water) past wineries and through nice riparian oaks. There are perhaps 8 wineries along the ride, and Peachy Canyon Rd. is a main route from Paso to the rest of the western wine country, which means I wouldn’t do this ride on a weekend when the wine tourists are out. Any other time, it’s pretty empty—on a gorgeous Fall Thursday I saw 10 vehicles in 21 miles.
At road’s end, you’ve got good riding in either direction (see Adding Miles), but wherever else you ride, make sure you come back to this spot, because you must not miss the Peachy Canyon Rd. descent, which is one of the best descents in Bestrides. In places it’s a perfect slalom course—the road surface is glass, the contour is constantly varied and interesting, the pitch is just steep enough so you can rip it without much braking, every curve is sweetly banked, and the sight lines are excellent so oncoming cars don’t catch you out.
Adding miles: From the west end of Peachy Canyon Rd. you’re a short ride up Vineyard Dr. from our Adelaida Rd./Chimney Rock Road ride. Also near you are Willow Creek Rd. (which Tammy below says has just been repaved—3/21), Vineyard Drive to your R (busiest road in the area and best ridden downhill), and Jack Creek Rd. Nacimiento Lake Drive is a big, busy road, only suitable as a connector to something better.
If you hate out-and-backs and you’re set up for dirt, you can loop Peachy by riding it one way, then returning via Kiler Canyon Rd, which intersects PCR near PCR’s west end and returns to Paso via some nice canyon scenery. It’s all gravel for its western two-thirds. Of course I would never give up the PCR descent, so I’d only do this riding up Kiler, down Peachy. An even bigger loop including Peachy is laid out by Tammy in her comment below.
Nothing on the west side of Paso Robles is flat, so if you want flatter (or you’re just sick of vineyards) look to the east, as Gandalf told Aragorn. The riding to the northeast of Paso is good if you avoid the straight roads on the map and stick to those that meander, like Estrella Rd., Cross Canyon Rd., and Hog Canyon Rd. While you’re in that area, the mission is worth a visit. The ride to Parkfield is well-regarded—do it as an out and back, and schedule it for when the Parkfield Cafe is open so you can sample their famous burgers. Southeast of Paso, the loop around Santa Margarita Lake (W. Pozo Rd>Parkhill Rd.>Las Pilitas Rd.) is reputed to be good riding, especially in the spring. Don’t fail to stop and check out the Pozo Saloon, a local institution.
A good introduction to the region’s riches is the Great Western Bike Rally, a four-day gathering of riders who camp at the Paso Robles fairgrounds and do pick-up rides in all directions.
You’re 30 miles via Hwy 46 from Cambria and the Santa Rosa Creek Road ride. Or our Santa Rita Rd./Cypress Mountain Rd. ride will let you ride to it. There is also good (not great) riding around San Luis Obispo—the Wildflower Century route (not to be confused with “the Wildflower,” a century out of Chico and the basis for our Table Mt. ride) and the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club (SLOBC) website are good places to find routes.
Afterthoughts: All three communities mentioned here—Paso Robles, Cambria, and San Luis Obispo—reward a visit. Cambria is a hamlet, Paso is a large town, and SLO is a city, but each has its (substantial) charms. Cayucos, a miniscule village south of Cambria, has a cult following and is worth a visit—check out the fish tacos.
Late March I did a four-day tour that combined three rides from this site: Peachy Canyon Road, Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, and Santa Rosa Creek Road. See http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Paso2016 for a description.
Some compromises, of course—compelling for me was the significantly improved cycling-to-driving ratio. Great hostel in Cambria—highly recommended.
The descent part of this road is the closest I’ve come to the “flow” that mountain bikers talk about. It is one of the sweetest rides I’ve been on, and a nice warm up for the Paso area. We did it as a counter-clockwise loop, going towards Adelaida, and making a short side trip to Tables Creek Winery (on Vineyard Dr. just past where you turn onto Peachy Canyon). There is more traffic on the outbound loop than on Peachy Canyon, but everyone was polite. It ended up being less than 30 miles total. We did do it on a Saturday, and there was a Porsche 911 rally going uphill on Peachy Canyon, but again, less than one car per minute overall, so quite pleasant.
I assume your loop went out Nacimiento Lake Rd., out Adelaida, down Vineyard, and down Peachy. That’s a nice way to avoid the Peachy climb—climbing Nacimiento Lake and Adelaida is much more gradual—and you get the best leg of our Adelaida/Chimney Rock loop.
Rode beautiful Peachy Canyon with my friends yesterday. We were on gravel bikes, so we added some dirt to the ride on our way back by taking Kiler Canyon road from the Peachy Canyon summit back down to Paso Robles. Absolutely fabulous. Thanks, Jay!
Very nice ride, rode it this last weekend (April 7). We started in Paso Robles & I added miles by just doing the east side of Peachy a second time, total of about 36 miles. The descent on the east side is indeed great.
My only addition to Jay’s description would be to take issue with his “don’t do this on a weekend” note. There are wineries on this road but they don’t seem to have a huge traffic draw. We rode this on a Sunday with absolutely perfect weather, didn’t start until noon, and I still saw minimal traffic. I counted 17 cars over the first 45 minutes of the ride.
We live on Peachy Canyon Rd. and do a loop from our house east into Paso, south on S. Vine to 46 West, then right on Oakdale, right on Templeton/Willow Creek, right on Willow Creek to Peachy Canyon, and right to home. About 18 miles, plenty of crankin’ hills, PLUS the County just re-paved Willow Creek so it’s now a dream. We love where we live.
That sounds like a nice loop.
I had a very frightening interaction with a local in a truck who sounded like he lived nearby on Peachy Canyon. At the corner of Peachy and Vineyard (in front of Rangeland Wines), he repeatedly honked while passing in the opposite direction, then stopped and began shouting various threats: “Get off the road,” “You don’t live here,” “I’m going to come kick your ass,” etc. He seemed extremely angry that this area has become popular with cyclists.
I phoned the police, who basically said they couldn’t do anything without a license plate. If you have an interaction with this guy, get the license plate and provide it to the police/post it here. I’ve been riding for 20+ years and grew up/went to college in the area (currently live out of state) and have never seen a driver so angry for no reason and believe one day he will harm a cyclist.
FYI it was a larger white commercial-style truck with built-in rear side storage compartments.