Northern California is a dream destination for motorcyclists, boasting a diverse landscape of rugged coastlines, lush forests, and picturesque vineyards. The region offers an array of scenic routes that can satisfy riders of all skill levels and preferences.
Whether you’re in search of thrilling mountain passes, serene coastal highways, or leisurely rides through wine country, Northern California has something for everyone. Let’s explore some of the top motorcycle riding destinations in the area, providing you with a curated list of routes to inspire your next two-wheeled adventure.
Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1)
The Pacific Coast Highway is an iconic route that stretches along California’s coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and rugged cliffs. In Northern California, the highway takes riders through the coastal towns of Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur.
With its winding turns and dramatic ocean vistas, this route is a must-ride for any motorcycle enthusiast. Make sure to stop at the famous Bixby Creek Bridge and take in the awe-inspiring views of McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Highway 36 is a lesser-known gem that winds its way through the heart of Northern California, spanning from Red Bluff to the coastal town of Fortuna. This 140-mile route features an array of terrain, including tight twisties, sweeping curves, and long straights.
The road takes riders through the Trinity Alps and Shasta-Trinity National Forest, offering ample opportunities for photo stops and exploration. Be sure to refuel and grab a bite to eat in the charming town of Hayfork, which serves as a convenient midway point.
Napa Valley and Sonoma County
Northern California’s wine country offers a relaxed and scenic ride through rolling vineyards, charming towns, and historic wineries. Starting in Napa, take the Silverado Trail northward through the heart of the valley, enjoying the lush scenery and numerous wineries that dot the landscape. Continue to Calistoga, where you can explore the Petrified Forest or relax in the town’s natural hot springs.
From Calistoga, head west through the rolling hills of Sonoma County, making your way to the quaint town of Healdsburg. This leisurely ride is perfect for those who enjoy a slower pace, allowing ample time for wine tasting, gourmet dining, and soaking in the beautiful surroundings.
Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway (Highway 4)
Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway is a challenging ride that takes motorcyclists through the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The route begins in the town of Angels Camp and climbs to an elevation of over 8,700 feet as it traverses the stunning Ebbetts Pass.
With its tight switchbacks, steep inclines, and stunning alpine views, this ride is not for the faint of heart. However, those who tackle it will be rewarded with an unforgettable journey through one of California’s most beautiful mountain ranges.
Enjoy the Ride and the View
Northern California offers an abundance of motorcycle riding destinations that cater to riders of all skill levels and preferences. From the iconic Pacific Coast Highway to the thrilling Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, the region’s diverse landscape provides the perfect backdrop for a memorable two-wheeled adventure. Before heading out, be sure to review the California laws for motorcyclists, helmets are mandated in California. Remember to ride defensively, there were 524 motorcycle accidents in 2019 San Francisco alone. So, gear up, hop on your motorcycle, and set out to explore the incredible beauty of Northern California’s roads.