Dry Creek & Alexander Valleys (easy or moderate)
This 30-mile loop, starting in Healdsburg, is arguably one of the most famous wine country bike routes in the world. The scenery alone—vineyard-covered valleys backdropped by rising hills and mountains, well-kept wooden barns and outbuildings, bright blue skies (much of the time, anyway)—is reason enough for this ride. But add in the possibility of hopping off your bike now and again to sample award-winning wines, perhaps stretching your legs on a flower-bedecked winery patio while taking in killer views…experiences like that become shiny jewels of memory.
For the most part this ride is flat, though you’ll occasionally have to peddle uphill for short distances. If you’re a warrior bicyclist, you’ll eat up this loop without raising a sweat. If you usually don’t cycle more than a few miles, don’t worry. You’ll do fine. Just take it nice ‘n easy.
The ride starts near Healdsburg’s historic plaza on Grove Street at City Hall (easy parking nearby). Start off going south on Grove and then take a right on Mill Street, which soon becomes Westside Road. In a mile you’ll turn right onto West Dry Creek Road, where you’ll enjoy expansive views and great natural beauty.
One of the wine country sights you’ll enjoy as you peddle along: tall signposts directing you to nearby wineries. Each winery has its name on its own perpendicular slat attached to the post—and sometimes you’ll see posts with slats from tip to ground. When it’s time for a tasting break, head off and explore a winery of your choice.
After about ten miles, turn right onto Yoakim Bridge Road which crosses over Dry Creek. A few miles northwest, the creek has been dammed to create massive Lake Sonoma.
Turn right—briefly—onto Dry Creek Road; then left onto Canyon Road and a gradual uphill climb. From the top you’ll descend into Alexander Valley. Turn right onto Geyserville Avenue and into the small town of Geyserville, which hasn’t changed much since the late 1800s.
If you want to stop here, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. Grab coffee and a fresh-baked pastry at Geyserville Mud, delve into excellent Italian/California cuisine at Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, shop for a gift at Bosworth & Son General Mercantile, or sample wines at one of the town’s tasting rooms (Meeker Winery, Ramazzotti Wines, Route 128 Vineyards & Winery, and Mercury Geyserville).
Head south out of Geyserville on Highway 128 until you come to the 1895 Jimtown Store, a popular destination for cyclists and everybody else. You can refill your water bottles here (for free), buy a cycling map, order a sandwich in the deli (or advance order a boxed lunch), grab a cup of really good coffee, chat with other cyclists, or just sit on the old wood porch and enjoy the country setting.
Continue along Highway 128. When it turns north, head straight onto Alexander Valley Road, cross the Russian River and eventually turn right onto Lytton Station Road. Turn right a mile later onto Lytton Springs Road, and you’ll travel beneath Highway 101 and begin a small uphill climb. At the top, turn onto Chiquita Road. Two miles later you’ll enter Healdsburg. Chiquita ends at Grove. Turn right and soon you’ll be back at your starting point.
For more information, the Santa Rosa Cycling Club offers a detailed description of a similar route, along with a route map and turn-by-turn instructions.