Planning bike route from Bay Area to Yosemite

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of September 10-16, 1998
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Canoeing Temagami Lake area of Ontario
Planning bike route from Bay Area to Yosemite

Planning bike route from Bay Area to Yosemite

By Grant Davis

Question: Is there a bike route to Yosemite from anywhere in the San Francisco Bay area? I'd like to plan a trip. Thanks for your help.

Lynette Gomez
Livermore, California

Yosemite is the perfect destination on bike from the Bay area
Adventure Adviser: First thing, it's hard to pick one bike route to Yosemite when the San Francisco Bay area stretches for over 150 miles north to south and 50 miles west to east. Second, I hope you don't expect to find a dedicated bike trail all the way to Yosemite, because that ain't happening — it's public roads and highways all the way to Half Dome. To wit, I did track down two excellent resources to get you there, Krebs Cycle Products' Bike Touring Maps of the Bay Area ($9.00) and Adventure Cycling in Northern California ($14.95, and put out by the Adventure Cycling Association, Missoula, MT).

Richard Krebs has mapped out every bike-friendly road in a massive region that stretches from Big Sur/Salinas in the south to the Oregon border up north and east to Lake Tahoe. Mileage, bicycling services and road gradients are meticulously detailed on each map. If there's anywhere you want to ride to or from in the Bay Area, Krebs will get you there. Call a local Bay Area bike shop to see if they sell these maps, or email Krebs directly at [email protected]

Armed with Krebs' maps, your next goal is to get yourself to Overland, just east of Manteca. You have three options: the flat route, the moderately hilly option, and cheating. To make life easy on yourself, follow the East Bay shoreline up to San Pablo Bay, through the Carquinez Strait, and make your way through the Central Valley's river delta to Manteca. Be grateful for the usually stiff afternoon breeze at your back. Second option: head east through Castro Valley, over the mountains and through Livermore to an easy climb at Altamont Pass. Drop down into the Central Valley, and it's almost a straight shot to Overland. However, if spending an entire day mired in traffic and urban sprawl has all the appeal of a prison term, hop aboard Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and take the Concord train to the end of the line. You'll be close to Pittsburgh, the Bay Area's last outpost before empty and flat Delta country.

From Overland, Adventure Cycling in Northern California routes a 100-mile uphill trek through the Sierra Nevada foothills and into Yosemite, called imaginatively enough, "Oakdale to Yosemite." Unfortunately, two-lane highways with 60mph traffic are the only ways to get you to the park itself.

Still, CalTrans was decent enough to provide cyclists with six-to-eight foot shoulders. Best time to do this ride is weekdays, May through June or September through October. Ride on a weekend and you suck on the exhaust of thousands of weekend yahoos heading to the park; ride during the summer and you wither under the Central Valley's 100+ degree humidity.

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