Lucas Valley-Hwy 1-West Marshall Wall-Cheese Factory-Novato

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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This clockwise loop heads out from Marinwood on Lucas Valley to Nicasio and Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd. It continues along Tomales Bay on CA-1 N for the stair-step climb up west Marshall Wall to the top of Bolinas Ridge. The route heads east on Marshall Petaluma Rd to Hicks Valley for a stop at the Cheese Factory. The return to Marinwood goes along Stafford Lake on Novato Blvd and meanders around Indian Valley to Ignacio Blvd and Alameda del Prado to Miller Creek.

We head west on Lucas Valley Rd.

The climb up to Big Rock summit is one mile long with an average grade of 7.2%.

Lucas Valley drops down into the valley through the towering redwoods to the ranches and grasslands of West Marin.

We stop at Nicasio Square to meet up with other club members.

Nicasio Valley Rd stretches 3.3 miles along the Nicasio Reservoir through the open pastoral lands and valley meadows.

Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd continues along the NW side of the reservoir with gorgeous views of Black Mountain.

We cross the colored bridge and stay on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd; the rolling terrain follows along the curvatures of Lagunitas Creek on the northern edge of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to CA-1 N.

CA-1 N goes along the outskirts of Pt Reyes Station to the open bay meadows along the southern tip of Tomales Bay.

The rolling terrain on CA-1 N continues along Tomales Bay with magnificent views of the dense forests around Pt Reyes National Seashore.

The road goes up and down along the bay pass the oyster farm at Tomales Bay Oyster Co and gently winds down into the bay town of Marshall.

Scenes from the flat stretch on CA-1 N from Marshall to Marshall Petaluma Rd:

West Marshall Petaluma Rd goes up the backside of the infamous “Marshall Wall”; this is a 700 foot 2.8 mile stair-step climb to the top of Bolinas Ridge. It begins with an immediate steep ascent up to St Helens Church.

The road kicks up for 1.4 miles with an average grade of 6.6% and steep pitches of 9-12% as it winds up towards the ridgeline.

On the approach up to the fence line, the road levels out and quickly drops down to the wooden barn at the open ranch.

The road continues up around the ranch and climbs for the next 0.8 mile with an average grade of 7%. This is a beautiful ascent through the grassy slopes with unobstructed panoramic views of the surrounding open space and hilltop ranches and barns.

At the top of Bolinas Ridge, look to the west and enjoy the phenomenal views of the sweeping grasslands below and the expansive deep green forests along Tomales Point at Pt Reyes National Seashore-WOW!

Bolinas Ridge views

Bolinas Ridge views

Bolinas Ridge views

Bolinas Ridge views

The descent on the east side of the Marshall Wall is fast, steep and dramatic! Keep your eyes on the road-it drops down from the top of the ridge towards S2 Ranch with spectacular mountain views!

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Marshall Petaluma Rd continues on rolling terrain for the next 6.5 miles; it crosses Walker Creek into Verde Canyon. It passes through a scattering of ranches and farm houses with vintage trucks and wooden barns.

The road rolls along Walker Creek through the green valley landscape of open pastoral meadows and chaparral covered hills.

The turn on Hicks Valley Rd takes us along a less traveled road on rolling terrain through ranch country with grazing cattle and expansive valley meadows with hillside vineyards and open ranchlands.

Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd takes us south through Hicks Valley with beautiful views of Hicks Mountain and the wide open valley.

We stop at the Cheese Factory for lunch:

For the return to Marinwood, we depart from the group and opt to continue east on Novato Blvd towards Stafford Lake.

The rolling climbs on Novato Blvd takes us through ranching community with grazing cattle, open pens, old wooden barns and a valley vineyard.

The road rolls down from the ranches pass Stafford Lake and continues along Novato Creek to the horse boarding and riding facility at Morning Star Farm.

We meander around the residential neighborhoods of Novato on Sutro, Vineyard and Mill Rd.

Indian Valley Rd winds around horse country with acreage ranches and fenced paddocks.

We take Arthur St to Cambridge and go up and over Sunset Pkwy to the flats on Ignacio Blvd.

Alameda del Prado runs parallel to Hwy 101; this road leads us out of Novato onto the multi-use path into Marinwood.

The rolling terrain on Miller Creek Rd takes us back to the start at Marinwood Park.

This is a fabulous loop around the scenic country roads of west Marin. The climb up the backside of “Marshall Wall” is definitely worth doing-the ridge top vistas are spectacular!

Garmin Stats:
61.71 miles with 3865′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 749′
Max grade: 12%
Terrain: Moderately hilly

Weather: Partly cloudy overcast skies with afternoon sun. Temps ranged from the high 50′s to the mid 70′s. SW winds with 73% humidity

Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile

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Follow this route for today’s ride: