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Cycling in SLO County (Winter '22)

Paso Robles, California

Description

Added by Joel Blatt

In SLO County, epic paved routes abound.  In this adventure, I will focus on the must-do's with an emphasis upon climbs!  The best routes map across Paso Robles, Creston, Cayucos, Cambria, Atascadero, Templeton, San Miguel, Santa Margarita, and San Luis Obispo.  Also, see the following epic gravel routes, if that's more your speed.

I've organized by specific areas, which enable modifiable-by-design routes.  You decide on more or less challenging routes.  Stack-ranking is tough, but I will say my most favorite area is west of Paso Robles.  

Paso Robles (#1)

Routes include Peachy Canyon, Chimney Rock, Adelaida, Vineyard Drive, Willow Creek, Running Deer, and Lime Mountain.

Peachy both ways is fantastic.  Adelaida is good climb, but as a descent is even better.  All of Chimney Rock both ways is great, plus they re-paved the bottom section.  The scenery is awesome.

Disclaimer: Running Deer is gated for cars, which means you enter/exit via walk-through gate; going ~3 miles out and back, you experience two great climbs.  Lime Mountain is at the end of Madrona, which is at the end of Chimney Peak; "no trespassing" is clearly posted, but some do everything at least once; climb to the mine offers tremendous views of Santa Lucia Coastal Mountain Range, but the road itself is not in good condition, plus you may encounter large trucks.

Creston/Santa Margarita

Routes include La Panza, O'Donovan, Webster/229, Pozo, Las Pilitas, Park Hill, Huer Huero plus the showcase, which is Black Mountain.

Create your route, working backwards from Black Mountain.  This climb offers not one, but three epic climbs with self-explanatory naming conventions of Lower, Middle, and Upper.  

Add-ons include Webster/229, which is delightful both directions.  La Panza and O'Donovan are good for adding miles.  Huer Huero is better climbing than descending.  Las Pilitas undulates and Park Hill is nice sustained climb with less gradient.  

Cayucos/Cambria

Routes include Green Valley/46, Old Creek, and Santa Rosa Creek.

Green Valley is rather pretty, but it is a highway, albeit with wide shoulder.  Old Creek is fast descent and challenging climb.  Santa Rosa Creek is spiritual climb with some ramps; descent is questionable, given road surfaces.  If they ever re-pave all of Santa Rosa Creek, it would be otherworldly. 

Atascadero

I refer to the area west of 101 as the "Atascadero Alps" for good reason.  There are endless climbing segments to discover; I find new roads every time I visit.  

Climbs that will hurt you, include:

Other climbs worth exploring, but the road surface varies:

San Luis Obispo

If you have time, Prefumo Canyon and See Canyon are worth the effort.  You can either bridge the canyons via 1+ mile of gravel (I punctured) or go around.  From See Canyon (which is good place to park) you can go east (out and back) towards Baron Canyon Ranch.  You can also loop (either direction, but most go CCW) Indian Knob and Squire Canyon.  All of these SLO climbs are pretty steep.

Few other favorite spots:

Kiler Canyon (good section of pavement until gravel,) Hi Mountain (this can be part of Huasna and/or Lopez Lake,) El Pomar, South El Pomar, Linne, Union, Ranchita Canyon, Cross Canyons, and Estrella.  Another short/punchy climb close to downtown Paso Robles is Hilltop.  From Paso, in less than an hour you can repeats at Kiler Canyon and/or do 10 X 15% repeats on Hilltop.

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