From the Felton Safeway on Mount Hermon Drive, spin north on CA 9. Three miles in, turn left onto the lesser trafficked Alba Road, and gear down for a four-mile climb with sections over a ten percent grade. On the 2,400-foot highpoint, turn left onto Empire Grade and take the fast plunge (some roadies report 50-plus mph speeds). Don't go too fast. The road is windy, the redwoods seem bigger than usual, and sandstone formations are moonlike. The road turns and follows the coastline up CA 1 to the coastal town of Davenport. Pedal on to Swanton Road for a 6.8-mile loop through idyllic farmland and coastal hills. Close loop on CA 1 and continue to Bonny Doon Road for a grinding climb back up to Empire Grade. The last 3.7 miles finish with a fast descent into Felton.
Local Favor: Grab some post ride calories at the Taqueria Vallarta on the corner of Mount Hermon and CA 9. The burritos are good enough for locals to drive up to an hour to enjoy.
-Mapped by Russ Stevens
Santa Cruz, CA: Bonny Doon and Swanton Loop
Distance: 52.00 mi
Total Time: none
Speed: 0.0 mph
Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none
Speed: 0.0 mph
Pace: 0:00 / mi
Distance to next
Then go 0.00 mi
Start - Safeway Plaza in Feton at the corner of Mt Hermon and Graham Hill
Then go 0.05 mi
Turn Right - out of parking lot onto Graham Hill
Then go 0.22 mi
Turn Right - Hwy 9
Then go 3.43 mi
Turn Left - Alba Rd
Then go 3.92 mi
Turn Left - Empire Grade
Then go 7.16 mi
Turn Right - Smith Grade
Then go 5.29 mi
Turn Left - Bonny Doon Rd
Then go 3.28 mi
Turn Right - Hwy 1
Then go 1.31 mi
Turn Right - Cement Plant Rd
Then go 1.09 mi
Turn Right - Highway 1
Then go 0.39 mi
Turn Right - Swanton Rd
Then go 6.78 mi
Turn Left - Hwy 1
Then go 7.64 mi
Turn Left - Bonny Doon
Then go 3.71 mi
Straight - Pine Flat Rd
Then go 0.12 mi
Turn Right - Martin Rd
Then go 1.71 mi
Turn Right - Ice Cream Grade
Then go 2.11 mi
Straight - Felton Empire
Then go 3.54 mi
Straight - Graham Hill Rd
Then go 0.26 mi
Turn Left - Safeway
Points of Interest
Felton Fair Parking Lot
Location: 37.051992, -122.068749
Start from the Felton Fair/Safeway parking lot at the corner of Graham Hill and Mt. Hermon. If you're hungry, grab a doughnut and coffee before heading out.
Location: 37.053807, -122.073727
The main artery for San Lorenzo Valley residents, this two-lane highway can be a tight squeeze at times. Best times to ride are Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Location: 37.068049, -122.082675
The first of two narrow bridges; don't stop, but look out for buses and trucks as you cross.
The second and last narrow bridge
Location: 37.069697, -122.084370
Alba Road Climb
Location: 37.092328, -122.096772
Kick-your-ass hard, this two-lane mountain road sporadically climbs at over ten percent grades, ascending hairpin turns precariously gripping washed out hillside. The climb, a 3.9-mile, 2,000-foot test, is seldom used by cars and shaded form the sun, but still dangerous so keep your eyes open.
Location: 37.095717, -122.100163
A brief bit of relief on Alba
Location: 37.099003, -122.131362
Santa Cruz Mountains
Location: 37.101331, -122.132263
Looking out over the Santa Cruz Mountains from Alba Road.
Location: 37.103590, -122.140718
Signs at the top of Alba. After cresting Alba Road, relax with a blazing 8-miles descending 1,835 feet.
Cruising on Empire
Location: 37.057712, -122.123251
Wide, fast and banked, Empire Grade is a local favorite for testing your bike computers speed maximum.
Location: 37.054287, -122.138958
Crumbling Sandstone rock formations litter the terrain along Martin Road.
Bonny Doon Road
Location: 37.037023, -122.152004
So smooth you barely need to use your brakes, this 3.6-mile section drops over 1,000 feet to the ocean and a stunning spin up the coast.
Location: 37.001730, -122.180243
A local favorite, the highway has wide shoulders and room to maneuver. Flat tires are common on this stretch, and evening sunlight can be blinding, so time your ride and be prepared.
Location: 37.011600, -122.195778
El Jarro Mexican restaurant in Davenport. It's small--like 20 seconds riding past small--but Davenport has several great places to refuel. El Jarro Mexican restaurant just off Highway 1 is a local favorite.
Seasonal wildflowers at the start of Swanton
Location: 37.032433, -122.219124
An idyllic coastal back road, wind past farmland, wildflowers, and lonely ranch houses. The road, ridable both ways, is usually ridden from south to north since the screaming final downhill is too much fun to pass up.
Location: 37.078189, -122.244873
Location: 37.082092, -122.260065
The Pacific Ocean. A fast, tight descent leads back to the Highway. The turns are tight so make sure to keep an eye open for oncoming traffic.
Location: 37.017494, -122.125740
Enjoying the peace and quiet on Smith Grade
Location: 37.017014, -122.114325
Prehistoric Redwood forest lines a majority of this ride, providing a damn, cool cover during the hot summer months.
Location: 37.058602, -122.118530
Wickedly fast, this screaming downhill twists around 15 mph horseshoes, but don't get weak knees just yet-locals have been known to drive up to the top multiple times in one day, just to scream back down to Felton, 3-miles below.
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