Taking the High Road to Half Moon Bay

Ever heard of Devil’s Slide? This narrow stretch of Hwy 1 is dreaded by local and long-distance bike tourers alike. Don’t let it deter you! For adventures south of San Francisco, local bikers take Old Pedro’s Mountain Road instead. This overgrown fire road climbs the chaparraled slopes of Montara Mountain. Upon reaching the saddle, the rewards are 360 degree views of rugged peaks and steep seaside cliffs.

The fire trail descends to connect up again with Hwy 1. Half Moon Bay is just 8 miles down the road from this point. Hwy 1 can be busy on weekends, but no big deal — you’ll pass bumper-to-bumper mini-vans as you ride a wide highway shoulder into town. Take a right on Kelly Ave and pick up fresh local fruits and vegetables en route to Francis Beach Campground. In just a few pedal strokes, you’ll be setting up camp to the sound of ocean breakers.

Trip at a glance

Route: The sense of leaving civilization behind is probably why Old Pedro’s Mountain Road is also known as “Planet of the Apes.”

Click here for my recommended route (~25 miles) from Colma BART to Half Moon Bay, via Planet of the Apes. For an adventurous return route, climb Tunitas Creek and return to San Francisco via the Caltrain in Palo Alto. For extra adventure, cross the Dunbarton Bridge and end at Union City BART (route here).

Season: The mild maritime climate makes this coastal ride suitable for all seasons. Beware of after-rain mud and ruts on “Planet of the Apes.” Highway 1 can be windy, but you’ll usually catch a tailwind heading south.

Camping: The hiker/biker site at Half Moon Bay State Beach is friendly for hooping and hollering crowds of bike campers. It’s set apart from the car-camping sites and sheltered under windblown cedars. The beach is just over a rise — perfect for stripping to your skivvies and making a run for it. Afterward, you can rinse off the brine in coin-operated showers. $12 a head and 10 minute bike ride to ice cream (and other necessary groceries) in town.

Half Moon Bay hiker/biker site, aglow in a December sunset.

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