Mendocino Bike Rides - MacKerricher - Big River - Van Damme


Wheel Charmer

Cape Cod analogies abound in Mendocino: white picket fences, wood-frame architecture, saltbox buildings, and an iconic church all scattered on a postage–stamp-sized bluff. One of the best ways to explore this charming California coast is on two wheels. Hare are three car-free bike rides that'll keep things mellow in Mendocino.  

Bike ride MacKerricher State Park

Beach Cruiser

Catch MacKerricher State Park on a sunny day and see why the Northern Pomo and Coast Yuki Indians knew this was a special place thousands of years ago. Explore this wild coast just a few miles north of Mendocino by bike riding the shore-side and pancake-flat Haul Road. The route used to be railroad tracks for an old lumber mill. Today bicyclists, walkers and joggers take to the mostly paved road, enjoying the sands and sea breeze. Start from northern Fort Bragg and pedal past beautiful beach houses and undulating dunes as the coastal air brushes against your cheeks. Park your bike and take a short boardwalk jaunt to Laguna Point where you may spot harbor seals spinning playfully in the water. Afterwards continue north, bypassing a large washed-out section of Haul Road before rejoining the trail for another 1.5 miles to Inglenook Fen Ten Mile Dunes Preserve. This long, wide and remote beach doesn't have a bike trail, but it's worth walking down to for a relaxing stroll before returning the way you came. Cruising right along.

Bike rentals are available at Fort Bragg Cyclery (221 N. Main St., Fort Bragg; 707-964-3509). MacKerricher State Park is 3 miles north of Fort Bragg. From Hwy. 1 turn left on Elm St. Make a right on Glass Beach Dr. and follow it to the end where you'll find parking and the start of Haul Rd. It's dog-friendly until you reach Inglenook Fen Ten Mile Dunes Preserve.

Bike Ride Big River Trail Mendocino

Big River Ramble

It's not just the rollicking Pacific smothering the coastline that makes Mendocino such a spectacular setting. It's also the fact that it lies at the mouth of the Big River, a mint-colored estuary that flows for miles. Big River isn't named for its size, but for the huge redwoods that used to flank it. These days the logging has been replaced by recreation and the river is a great place to paddle your canoe or ride your bike along its banks. Big River Trail gently rolls along the northern side of the river, making an ideal 13-mile (round-trip) mountain bike ride fit for beginners. The first few miles are especially scenic, with the river in frequent view. Keep an eye out for the elusive river otters that make the area their home. Farther back, the foliage gets thicker with brief glimpses of the river whose color begins to darken. At 6.6 miles the trail forks, and that's where we recommend turning around. Head back to the mouth of the river and stop for a post-ride respite at Big River Beach. Big wheels keep on turning …

TIP: Catch a Canoe and Bicycles Too (on the south side of Big River at the Stanford Inn) rents bikes by the hour and the day. They also have an outstanding map of Big River Trail, which anyone can pick up at their shop for free.

The turnoff for Big River Trail is just north of the bridge over Big River. Dog-friendly!

Bike Ride Van Damme State Park

Damme Good Ride

To experience one of the most beautiful bike rides in Northern California shift into gear on Fern Canyon Trail in Van Damme State Park. A wide and flat dirt trail takes you deep into this velvety green canyon of dewy bishop pines, redwoods, and thick ferns, bisected by the Little River. Crisscross the river over several perfectly arched wooden bridges that keep the pedaling playful. At 2.5 miles there's a junction where a signed bike-friendly trail veers right. Then it's a 1-mile huff-and-puff climb leading out of the canyon and up to the Pygmy Forest. Park your bike and take the quarter-mile boardwalk around this unique area where poor soil and shallow hardpan has stunted the growth of manzanitas, pine trees, and huckleberries, making them mini-me versions of their full-size counterparts. Return the way you came—careful on the downhill! Small wonder this is a big hit bike ride.

TIP: For a nice bed and breakfast that covers a range of budgets check out the John Dougherty House in Mendocino. Some rooms have private decks with views of the ocean; all guests can enjoy the large garden and patio. Grab dinner at the relaxed and refined bar at the MacCallum House (it also has a formal dining room). The MacBurger Royale, with sun-dried tomato mayo, is gourmet and tasty!

The Fern Canyon Trail starts at the end of the road that goes through Van Damme State Park campground. Those who don't want to climb for the last mile can lock up their bike at the 2.5 mile junction and hike the rest of the way. No dogs.

Treasure Island WineFest

Treasure Found

Save $20 per person to the Treasure Island WineFest—Lodi on the Water. Buy your tickets online with Promo Code: Z10TI.

California's best-kept secret is coming to San Francisco's best view. The second annual Treasure Island WineFestLodi on the Water is happening Sunday, Oct. 10 from 1 to 5 p.m., coinciding with Fleet Week's famous Blue Angels' air show. Taste your way through more than 200 handcrafted wines exclusive to the Lodi appellation. Swirl award-winning Albarino and Zinfandel while noshing on artisan cheese, olive oil, and gourmet wood-fired pizzas. Catch an educational wine seminar and say hello to the creative vintners and growers behind Lodi Wine Country, home to more than 80 artisan wineries winning top awards at major competitions. Or just kick back to live acoustic music and the best seats in the house for watching the Blue Angels' amazing aerial acrobatics. Purchase your tickets today and get ready for some outstanding flights in the air and in your glass.

BONUS: Save $20 by purchasing tickets with Promo Code: Z10TI.

Treasure Island WineFestLodi on the Water happens Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010 from 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $45 with the Promo Code: Z10TI, or $65 at the door. Purchase tickets at You must be 21 or over to attend. All tickets are nonrefundable.

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