3 Popular Bike Routes Through Sonoma Wine Country

Cycling through Sonoma County.

There's a reason that so many cycling events take place in Sonoma County: Diversity of both terrain and challenge. 

From paved routes along former railroad tracks through vineyard-laden valleys, to those that wind up and down scenic mountains and along the coast, Sonoma County is a cyclist’s dream destination.

Here are three itineraries for cyclists at any level, from casual riders and families with children and weekend warriors seeking a fitness challenge with a view, to experienced cyclists ready to tour Sonoma Wine Country.

Easy Route

West County Regional Trail

This 5.5-mile trail (one-way) travels from Sebastopol to Forestville and is suitable for everyone, including families with young cyclists. Built along a former railway line, the West County Regional Trail is flat, paved, and exceedingly scenic (think gorgeous vineyards, beautiful barns, and sloping hills).

Most of the trail is car-free, and along the way, you’ll find plenty of charming towns to stop and stretch. The trail is easy to follow and officially starts in Sebastopol, or you can shorten the route by starting in Graton.

The picturesque village of Graton is a great place to pick up a snack. Willow Wood Market Cafe is a popular general store/cafĂ© with a little something for everyone.

The exterior of Willow Wood Market Cafe, Graton
Willow Wood Market Cafe, Graton, California

The Hallberg Butterfly Gardens is a truly intriguing stop. This nine-acre non-profit wildlife sanctuary provides a healthy habitat for dozens of colorful butterflies. The gardens are only open on specific days from April through October, and invite you to book an appointment so you don’t miss this enchanting place.

Next, you’ll cruise into Forestville. This tiny town has a big food scene that will tempt the appetite you’ve worked up pedaling. Tiny Town Cafe is a popular coffee shop hangout known for flaky croissants, breakfast sandwiches, and coffee. Nightingale Breads boasts incredible wood-fired bakery treats perfect for replenishing carbs.

Fresh baguettes for sale at Nightingale Breads, Forestville
Nightingale Breads, Forestville, California

Once you’ve refueled and explored, simply bike back the way you came to complete your journey!

Easy to Moderate Route

Dry Creek Valley & Alexander Valley Bike Route

This 30-mile loop, starting in Healdsburg, is arguably one of the most gorgeous Sonoma Wine Country bike routes. The scenery alone — vineyard-covered valleys, rolling hills and mountains, bucolic wooden barns, and abundant bright blue skies — is reason enough to try this ride.

Add the opportunity to hop off your bike now and again to sample award-winning wines and stretch your legs on a winery’s welcoming patio — this route becomes a top-notch experience.

This ride is mostly flat, though you’ll occasionally pedal uphill for short distances. If you’re a warrior cyclist, you’ll eat up this loop without raising a sweat. If you usually don’t cycle more than a few miles, just take it nice and easy. 

The gazebo and the fountain in the Healdsburg Plaza, Sonoma County
Healdsburg Plaza, Healdsburg, California

The ride starts near Healdsburg’s historical plaza with easy parking nearby. Start your ride by biking south on Grove Street 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.

A sign post with the names of many wineries in Dry Creek Valley, AVA
Dry Creek Valley AVA, Sonoma County, California

One of the Sonoma Wine Country sights you’ll enjoy as you pedal is tall signposts pointing directions to nearby wineries. Each winery has its name on a signage slat, and sometimes, you’ll see posts with slats from tip to ground. When it’s time for a tasting break, head off and explore the winery of your choice.

After about 10 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.

A bridge crosses the blue water of Lake Sonoma Recreation Area, Geyserville
Lake Sonoma Recreation Area, Geyserville, California

Turn right — briefly — onto Dry Creek Road; then left onto Canyon Road for 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. Delve into excellent Italian-meets-Californian cuisine at Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria. Chill out on the patio — bedecked in lush climbing greenery and colorful umbrellas suspended in the air — and refuel with white pizzas, roasted-beet salads, and salami and cheese boards that star house-cured meats, local veg, and, domestic and imported cheeses. 

Chefs prepare pizza in front of a wood burning oven at Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, Geyserville
Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, Geyserville, California

Head south out of Geyserville on 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 be back in Healdsburg and your starting point. If you want to make this charming town your home base for a longer visit, you’ll find wineries, tasting rooms, boutiques, museums, Michelin-starred restaurants, and so much more. Find things to do in Healdsburg.

For more information, the Santa Rosa Cycling Club offers turn-by-turn instructions for a similar route, with a link to a GPS map.

Bonus ride: If you’re looking for a route closer to the moderate side in terms of challenge, check out the Santa Rosa Cycling Club’s Valley of the Moon route. The ride begins and ends at the Glen Ellen Village Market in the tiny northern Sonoma Valley town of Glen Ellen. Follow back roads around Sonoma Mountain, then circle through the nearby village of Kenwood. There’s an optional out-and-back route up Adobe Canyon Road to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park(7 miles round trip), and you can follow a different route back to Glen Ellen. 

Expert Route

Jenner/King Ridge/Meyers Grade Loop

At 55 miles and a 4,500’ elevation gain, this ride — which winds along the Pacific Ocean, through redwood forests, and beside the Russian River — is a dream for truly experienced cyclists aiming for a challenge.

People cycle toward the coast at Jenner, Sonoma County
Jenner, California

Start your ride in Jenner, a cozy community perched on an oceanside bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

Head south and turn left onto Highway 116 (also called River Road). Follow the river past the town of Duncans Mills, then turn left onto Austin Creek Road. This lovely stretch has few cars and winds through redwood trees that softly filter the sunlight.

About 6 miles along, turn right on Cazadero Highway and cruise into Cazadero. Raymond’s Bakery is a family-run gem where you can refuel with pastries, bread, and coffee. You can also pop into Cazadero General Store to snag fresh fruit, juices, and made-to-order sandwiches that get rave reviews.

Once you’re recharged, hop back in the saddle and continue along Cazadero Highway to a three-way junction, where you can take one of two routes:

  • King Ridge (the middle fork) if you’re looking for a steep, extra challenge.
  • Fort Ross Road (the left fork), is 19 miles shorter and easier.

Whether you choose King Ridge or Fort Ross Road, both are awesomely beautiful and both eventually end at Meyers Grade, high above the ocean with extraordinary views. Take in the spray from waves crashing into hulking sea-stack rock formations and look for whales breaching the water’s surface. 

Back on your bike, get ready for an amazingly steep downhill ride to Highway 1; depending on how much of a thrill-seeker you are, you’ll either be ecstatic or jamming on the brakes. Soon, you’ll arrive at Jenner, with bragging rights for completing your stunning ride.

Give your legs a much-deserved rest by spending a few days at the Jenner Inn, where you’ll be treated to ocean views right from your room. In the evening, watch the sunset at River’s End while enjoying fresh, seasonal dishes. Past menus have showcased Creole-inspired crab bisque, lamb lollipops, and fresh oyster and wine pairings.

For some time out of the saddle, Jenner offers a wealth of attractions, from guided kayaking eco-tours and state park exploration to hiking and wine tasting. Find more things to do in Jenner

The sun sets in Jenner, where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean
The view from River’s End Restaurant & Inn, Jenner, California

The Santa Rosa Cycling Club provides a detailed description of a similar route (we changed the starting point to Jenner), along with a route map, info on water stops, and turn-by-turn instructions.

Explore Sonoma County cycling tours and rentals and learn about bike trails in Santa Rosa.

Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriquez. 

You Might Also Like

Activities

The serene, majestic beauty of California’s redwood forests recall the ancient landscapes that covered much of this part of Sonoma…

Cycling / Segway

From paved routes along former railroad tracks through vineyard-laden valleys, to those that wind up and down scenic mountains and…

See What’s Happening

Share your experience using #SonomaCounty or #LifeOpensUp