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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-27-2012, 05:59 AM Thread Starter
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PCH Advice.....

Im making a western swing in a few weeks and contemplating adding the PCH to my itenerary. Im thinking from Santa Monica up to the Avenue of the Giants. Is there a preferred direction, I mean does it matter ride wise north to south as opposed to south to north? May sound like a dumb question but it can make a difference and a 500 mile ride is too far to do both ways.

Any other advice or tips of what to see/do and whats not worth the trouble. I love California and recent talk about 36 & 229 in northern Cal. have whet my appetite to extend my four corners trip on out to the left coast.

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-29-2012, 05:23 PM
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The PCH is a great ride. The views are otherworldly, but unfortunately the traffic can really suck in places. The sections north of LA adn south of the Bay Area have less traffic and are more enjoyable to ride.

The section north of SF Bay is even better. There's not much traffic and the roads are awesome. Be careful not to get wrapped up in looking at the scenery or you'll become part of it. I rode Hiway 1 south from Fort Bragg to the bay and I was worn out when I got there. It seemed like we'd gone around a thousand curves in that distance.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-29-2012, 05:28 PM
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+1 on both accounts - north of LA to Bay area is great, but north of SF is even better...

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 07:26 AM
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carmel to big sur (south) in april is the 'classic' sports car run.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 07:29 AM
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just looking over the map, spokane has some amazing sites also, salmon stairs, windsurfing, waterfalls, then yosemite, mt. baldy, death valley, colorado river, grand canyon, southern utah, area 51, the alamo....

you must have a bunch of vacation days.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 08:25 AM
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I live at the south end of the good part of Hwy 1 (it is technically the PCH only south of the Santa Barbara/Ventura county line.)
I have to agree, except for the section from Morro Bay to Big Sur/Carmel 1 and 101 north of SF are both great. Well, 1 is great, 101 is good and takes you through the avenue of the giants. Plan on pulling off somewhere and laying on your back a few feet from the road. The trees seem like they go forever. It would be a shame to miss the Big Sur part of 1.

Do you really need to be in Santa Monica? If not cross the desert from Barstow to Bakersfield, Take water. From BFL take 166 to 101 to 1 to SF then 101 to the Eureka area then turn south on 1 back to SF. I wouldn't want to do Fort Bragg to SF in one day, not that you couldn't but you need to plan some "smell the flower " stops. You are in California after all. Not much gas from San Simeon to Carmel, one place and it is about double the normal California price.

I suggest going north on 101 then south on 1, that way the coast is on your side of the road and you won't have to fight a line of RV's to get to stopping points. Make your way back through Yosemite to 395 then home from Lancaster or north and east through central Nevada.

If you can avoid weekends do it, there are plenty of RV's with Arizona and BC license plates going 23 MPH and few places to safely pass. Not much snow this winter, I think the Sierra Nevada passes will all be open by early June, unfortunately that means a bad fire year. You may have to change your route on short notice. Pretty much any of the highways across the Coast and Sierra Nevada ranges are going to beat the hell out of anything Kansas has to offer.

Time permitting: San Luis Obispo is a nice college town with plenty of restaurants and coeds, it is also home to my mortgage. .Carmel, Eureka, and Fort Bragg are all worth a few hours as well. If you have time the Monterey Bay aquarium is good and a nice break from the saddle. Any of the coastal towns with a harbor usually have good food and tourist trap stores. Buy a t-shirt or two. We need the sales tax revenues

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 08:38 AM
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I've ridden PCH along the California coast more times than I can count. First, the view is much better when you're riding from North to South. Why? Because the ocean is in front of you rather than to your left. The West Coasties will know what I mean. Traffic is hit and miss. If you're leaving from Santa Monica you'll have to get on the 101 in Ventura. It will turn back into PCH by Santa Barbara. The ride is best from San Luis Obispo to Northern CA. Everyone should ride the California Coast at least once. There's some fantastic views.

Ave of the Giant Redwoods is fantastic. You can spend a couple of days riding around that area. There's so much to see.

Yosemite is great too. I've ridden all of California many times and I personally prefer the Redwoods to Yosemite. Yosemite is breathtaking but the roads are slow and controlled. It's mostly 1 lane throughout the entire park and you can see most if it in less then a day..... Unless you're going to take advantage of the hiking, mountain climbing and other activities.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 10:01 AM
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Great advice from SLOglide about heading to the desert via Barstow.

Here's a link to a map going from Portland to Chandler - mostly coast with a good dose of trees.

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-31-2012, 05:22 PM
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You will not be disapointed riding the PCH either north or southbound, the views are great either way, just different. I'd avoid going south of Ventura, traffic gets very heavy and the views are not the best.

As others have said, gas is expensive and hard to find north of Morro Bay. Top up there, or in Cambria, that will get you to Monterey, or vice-versa.

Stop in at the Fernwood Resort in Big Sur, good food, decent motel rooms, great campground, sit out on the back deck under the redwoods for lunch. www.fernwoodbigsur.com/
Another good place to stop is the Lucia lodge. http://www.lucialodge.com/
The coast north of SF is great too, check out the town of Mendocino, cool shops and restaurants. Be sure to take the "Avenue of the Giants" that runs alongside 101.

Be prepared for any kind of weather. It will more than likely be cool, maybe foggy on the coast, and hot inland.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-31-2012, 05:45 PM
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North to South is the better way to ride as far as safety goes. Almost all stops are to your right.

Stopping and Pulling out you will not require you to cross lanes of traffic or to wait for traffic to pass you by so you can turn

Enjoy the ride.


PS: California Rt 128... super terrific road. One of the best you will ride.

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