Take I-5 to Santa Nella and take Highway 33 to Highway 152 West. After you pass the lake look for an exit on the left for Dinosaur Point. Take the Dinosaur Point Exit and look for the large Pacheco Pass Park sign on the right hand side of the road.
From the Bay area take 101 to Gilroy and head East on 152 to the Dinosaur Point Exit.
I was hooking up with a TROGS a mountain biking group from the Modesto/ Turlock/ Los Banos Area, we were supposed to start riding at 1:30. I was a bit late and figured everyone had left. I start unpacking my gear and someone pulls up with a pickup and a bike in the back.
It's Mark from the TROGS, turns out I had missed a couple emails and the ride wasn't starting until 3:00 PM. I'm not certain whether I should be irritated or relieved. I wait it out and finally around 3:15 or so everyone shows up. There are 7 in our group including me.
We take off north down a fire road out of the parking lot and after about 1/2 mile turn into a cow-gate onto a trail which is nearly overgrown with grass and flowers. If it wasn't for the trail markers every so often I would swear we were just riding across a meadow.
It's a great day for riding, about 70F outside with a nice cool breeze. There are a few clouds chasing each other across the sky but no rain in them. As we cruise across the meadow chatting the way folks who don't hardly know each other do, I am checking out some windmills in the distance.
We hit some small hills and start climbing up some fairly tame switchbacks. I notice out of the corner of my eye that a couple of the other new guys in the group are struggling with the switchbacks and walking. The trail is great, in most places calling it single track is generous. It's super narrow and a bit overgrown. As we come over the hill there the opposite hillside is blanketed with tons of flowers. An awesome mix of colors, yellow, red, blue, and purple in a green blanket. I love spring riding.
One of the regulars in the group, Scott, takes off ahead of the group and I try to reel him in. I chase him for about a mile blasting over flowery hills and across squirrel infested meadows. The trail is a bit wider here but off camber and maintained primarily by cows and feral pigs. I come over the top of a hill and grab lots of brakes.
At the bottom of the hill there is a big ravine. Scott is on the other side smirking. Home field advantage I guess. I look down into the ravine and I see the line which Scott had taken. Do a short loop and drop down the side of the ravine and up the other side. We look back and from our vantage we can see the rest of the group spread over the previous 1/2 mile of trail. Slowly the rest of the group trickles in (most of them take the cheater line around the ravine) and we take off again.
Next we start to climb up to Spikes Peak, the highest point in the park. The first portion of the climb isn't very long but it's steep. I make it about 2/3 way up before I have to push the bike for a short section. Before too long pride forces me to get back on the bike and finish the climb. Mark and Fred are waiting at the ridge line. We take a minute to get some calories in and wait for the stragglers (The wait for straggles part is becoming a recurring theme).
From the ridge line I can see the giant windmills churning in the wind, they are much closer now. We can also see for miles out into California's Central Valley, we can't see the horizon though because of and an impenetrable wall of smog.
The climb along the ridge to the peak is fairly short and an easy grade. We crest the peak and start blasting down the far side. The trail is technically fire road but so overgrown that it's more like twin single track snaking down the hill. We stop before the bottom and to regroup I spot a Coyote running across the hill opposite us.
Eventually we work our way around to the base of the windmills I had been eyeballing for quite some time. These things are awesome, we are still around 100 yards away from them and I can hear the slow churning of the giant blades spinning. Riding is a sort of escape from the complexities of mankind but this intrusion doesn't bother me at all. Much like cycling the windmills are a sort of a mingling place between nature and technology.
The rest of the ride is mostly downhill through a series of meadows an
Pacheco Pass - April 2003 - This is an older Ride Report I created for this trail ridden as a counter clockwise loop. Unfortunately there are no pictures.
Camera Dump - The original unedited images taken on this ride. They are all lower resolution to save space. Joseph requested these.