Pinnacles National Park, Cambria, Santa Cruz on Motorcycle

This is a great two day adventure that includes a stop at Pinnacles National Park, some lesser known back roads in California’s central valley, a stay in Cambria and then a nice cruise up the Pacific Coast Highway.

The view from the East Pinnacles Parking Lot

Pinnacles National Park has an abundance of hiking trails leading through caves which require flashlights with waterfalls flowing throughout. There’s an East and West entrance and while the East entrance, accessible from route 101 has more hiking options, the West entrance will set you up for a much more enjoyable motorcycle ride as you take rte. 25 south until you reach the Park.

You’ll enter some dark caves, so bring a flashlight

When you’ve finished hiking in Pinnacles you’re ready to hop back on your bike and some great roads await you. You’ll start by heading South on Rte 25 until you reach 198 where you’ll make a left and then a quick right on to Peach Tree Rd. which eventually turns into Indian Valley, and then River Rd. This stretch of road is pure bliss. While it’s narrow and mostly single lane, which usually makes me nervous about oncoming traffic, the lack of trees and vegetation give good sight lines and you will likely only run into a few cars, all of which will likely be quite friendly to you. There some quick up and downs, a few blindish corners and you’ll struggle to keep up with the 55mph speed limit, at least I do. This will lead you right into Paso Robles where you’ll hop on rte 46 and take it to the Pacific Coast Highway.

On my trips I try to find inexpensive hotel/motels, and when I find a good one I’m happy to share. In this case I stopped in Cambria at the Cambria Landing which sits a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean, has free wine tastings at 5:30 every day and has a fireplace in your room. Prices will vary according to the season, but in February of 2020 I got my room for $110 which is a steal for any place along the coast in my opinion. The room was clean, the mattress comfortable and the wifi worked great.

Here’s the scene from the Cambria Landing Inn

The next day you’ll have a 3-4 hour ride up the Pacific Coast Highway back into Santa Cruz. This stretch of road certainly lives up to the hype for the scenery, but depending on time of year and day of the week you’re travelling, it can be more annoying than pleasurable. There will be tourists galore, cars exiting parking lots without a care in the world and you probably won’t get to keep a brisk pace so it’s best to start this day with patience and just take in the salty ocean air and enjoy the scenery.

Quick Trip Notes
1. Start at Summit Store in Los Gatos
2. Take Soquel San Jose to Rte 1 South
3. Take Rte 1 South until you reach a good spot to head West to Rte 25 – This varies according to traffic
4. Take Rte 25 5o Rte 146/Pinnacles National Park
5. After your hide, continue South on Rte 25 until 198
6. Take a left on Rte 198 then a quick right on Peach Tree Rd.
7. Peach Tree Rd. changes names a couple of times but stay on it until you reach Rte 46
8. Take Rte 46 West to Rte 1 into Cambria and then find a place to sleep

Day 2
9. Take Rte 1 to Santa Cruz and then take Soquel San Jose up to Summit Rd. in Los Gatos and you’ll be back where you started

Hopefully this gives you a good idea on how to map your route for yourself. Leave a comment below if you want more details or have any questions.

This lizard at Pinnacles is having a great time

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