Driving & Biking Skyline Ridge
San Mateo & Santa Clara counties
Biking Skyline Ridge (Hwy 35) is one of the hidden treasures that local bicyclists and motorcyclists love. Even if you are not a sporting type you can still enjoy the quiet scenic auto drives which Skyline ridge provides just a few minutes away from busy Silicon Valley. See our Skyline Boulevard Map.
Skyline Boulevard (Hwy 35) itself is a central feature in many fabulous San Mateo/Santa Clara county bike rides. The ridge road segment between Hwy 92 (going to Half Moon Bay) and Hwy 9 (going to Saratoga) sits on top of the Santa Cruz Mountains that separate San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. Skyline’s two lane road meanders gently up and down this marvelous natural area making it perfect for cycling.
Motor traffic is usually light, especially on weekdays. Weather is mild but can be very foggy early and late in the day. Best of all the scenery is beautiful including pleasing redwood forests and panoramic vistas of both the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
If you enjoy bicycling up hills then getting to/from Skyline Blvd is most of the fun. Local bikers will often ride a portion of Skyline Ridge as they go to/from the Peninsula or to/from the Pacific Coast on the access roads to the top which are even more isolated and lovely.
Skyline Blvd – Best Stops & Access Routes
Some checkpoints you will pass while riding from north to south along Skyline Blvd are described below. see our Skyline Blvd Map for precise locations which are often not easy to determine on most maps. We”ve actually been there done that so if you zoom in on our maps and use the satellite view you can see exactly where to go.
Also described are several good ways to get to and from Skyline Blvd. If you are a serious rider you can easily mix and match these alternate routes as you cross over the mountains and back. If less energetic, then get a friend to truck you and your your bike up to Skyline Blvd after which you can enjoy a great one-way ride downhill. By the way, for all these rides you should be at least an intermediate rider who is comfortable sharing the road with fairly fast motor traffic.
On the main access routes shown below you can use either a road bike or a mountain bike. And, there are literally hundreds of off-road mountain biking & hiking trails just off the main roads. The best way to find these trails is to check the Internet first or just drive along looking for trailheads into the many large parks.
Checkpoint: A Major intersection at the north end of this Skyline Blvd ridge segment. Mainly for motorists. Most bicycle riders will take one of the access routes discussed below rather than coming this far north.
Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
Access Point #1: This mountain biking/hiking trailhead is on Skyline Blvd about 4.5 miles south of Hwy 92. From here you can take a fast and very beautiful 3.5 mile mountain bike ride (or hike) west down Whittemore Gulch trail through the redwoods. It ends at Higgins-Purisima Rd from which you can bike back up the steep trail you just rode down or take another trail back for variety. You can also head further east on Higgins-Purisima Road to Half Moon Bay, a nice ride in itself.
Warning – Whittemore Gulch is closed to mountain bikes during rainy weather. Also, it is sometimes monitored for excessive speeds and you can easily get a ticket.
Access Point #2: 7 miles south of Hwy 92, a little north of Tunitas Creek Rd, is another access point to the Purisima Creek Preserve. One trail starting here is a flat, short .6 mile round trip into the redwoods which is good for children or handicapped adults.
Checkpoint: The Mountain House Restaurant, 13808 Skyline, (in the redwoods) is a rather expensive restaurant. Bicycle wear might not be appropriate.
Checkpoint: Kings Mountain is a small community featuring, mainly, the Kings Mountain Volunteer Fire Brigade, 13899 Skyline Blvd, and the Kings Mountain Art Fair held Labor Day weekend.
Kings Mountain Rd/Skyline Blvd/Tunitas Creek Rd
Access Routes: Kings Mountain Rd turns into Tunitas Creek Rd at Skyline Blvd. Kings Mountain Rd is is a good bicycle route down to Woodside but can be busy weekends. Tunitas Creek Rd is a quiet pleasant ride up to the Skyline Blvd from coastal Hwy 1 and is a favorite of many bikers.
Checkpoint: A scenic turnout and parking spot to leave your car if you hauled your bike up. Across Skyline Blvd, on the west side, is a trailhead accessing some of the best mountain biking trails in the San Francisco Bay area.
Access Route: Hwy 84 is definitely bikeable but has more fast moving cars than other options. My preference is to bike down it to Woodside, rather than up, which makes it easier to avoid being passed so often. Headed west Hwy 84 is a fast way to the coast through the town of La Honda.
Checkpoint: Sky Londa, at the intersection of Skyline & La Honda Rd is a gathering spot for bikers and motorcycle riders. It has some parking lots, a gas station, a convenience store with sandwiches, and Alice’s Restaurant.
Checkpoint: Alice’s Restaurant, 17288 Skyline Blvd. This casual, outdoorsy restaurant in Sky Londa has plenty of outdoor decks and is a very popular destination for motorcyclists. Most of these motorcycle riders are groups of young Silicon Valley engineer or accountant types who enjoy talking about their vehicles and recent rides. It is a pleasant place for breakfast or burgers (preferably out on the deck with your dog).
Checkpoint: A few miles south on La Honda Rd is Apple Jacks Bar, 1 Entrada Way, La Honda. This quaint old roadhouse bar was built in 1879 as a blacksmith shop for passing travelers. It still attracts many motorcyclists and other such travelers, especially on weekends.
Old La Honda Rd
Access Route: Old La Honda Rd to Sand Hill Rd to Stanford is one of the most popular routes bikers take up to Skyline. Old La Honda is the easiest road to climb and is much more biker friendly than La Honda Rd (Hwy 84).
Windy Hill Open Space Preserve
Access Point: The Spring Ridge trail roadside parking is about .4 miles south of Old La Honda Rd — For one of the best views in the Bay area walk about .2 miles to the top of Windy Hill from which you can see panoramic views of the SF Bay, Pacific Ocean, and San Francisco. (note: To see the full 360 view in the panoramic views link hold down on your cursor button and move it around the picture.)
Thomas Fogarty Winery
Checkpoints: Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards,19501 Skyline Blvd, is a very classy little winery & tasting room with fabulous views.
Page Mill Rd/Skyline Blvd/Alpine Rd
Access Route: One way up is to catch Page Mill Rd in Stanford Industrial Park which is a couple of blocks south of Stanford University. You can also get to Page Mill Rd from Foothill Jr College via Moody Rd and Altamont Rd.
Page Mill Rd is one of the steepest climbs up to Skyline though it does have many switchbacks to help ease the ride a bit and to help keep speeds of passing cars down. Don’t try climbing it unless you are in shape :).
Access Route: Page Mill Rd turns into Alpine Rd at Skyline Blvd. The ride down Alpine Rd to Pescadero Rd then on to Pescadero is one of my personal favorites. There is not much traffic (probably because Alpine Rd is too old and twisty for easy car driving), the woods and streams near the top are fantastic, and the country roads lower down as you reach Pescadero are very pleasing too. There is a simple picnic area behind Arcangeli Bakery, 287 Stage Rd, Pescadero, which is a popular destination for bikers and other aficionados of baked goods.
If you would like a good alternate route from Pescadero back up to Skyline then take Stage Rd east to Hwy 1 to Tunitas Creek Rd up to Skyline Blvd.
Misc: Near the Page Mill Rd/Skyline/Alpine Rd intersection is a small pond with a nature center, Alpine Pond. The kids might enjoy a quick visit. Immediately after you turn west on Alpine Rd turn right into the Russian Ridge parking lot. From the parking lot you can find a tunnel going under Alpine Rd to the pond.
Hwy 9/Skyline Blvd
Access Route: From here you can take Hwy 9 (where it is called Congress Springs Rd then Big Basin Way) east to Saratoga. This ride down to Saratoga is fast and smooth one. If you decide to ride your bike up the grades are long but not as steep as some of the other options.
Access Routes: From here you can also take Hwy 9 west to Boulder Creek or you can continue on Hwy 35 (Skyline Blvd) to Hwy 17, a major freeway where you can’t ride a bicycle.
A very popular park with giant sandstone boulders to climb and beautiful trails to walk. Check out the Skyline Trail, in Sanborn County Park just east across Highway 35, for a quiet, pleasant walk.
Major Auto Routes to avoid if possible:
- Hwy 92 — Avoid this major San Mateo highway. It has fast, heavy traffic and bikes are illegal from Skyline Blvd to Half Moon Bay. The best way to use it, if necessary, is from Skyline Blvd down to Hwy 280.
- Hwy 17 — A major highway where bikes are not allowed. It can, at times, be somewhat dangerous even for cars :).
This will give you an idea of the fabulous variety and beauty which riding Skyline Ridge offers you. It is a hidden gem that only local biking enthusiasts really know.
- Half Moon Bay area & map – Many bikers ride up from the Woodside-Stanford-Los Altos area, cross Skyline Blvd, and head on down to Half Moon Bay or Pescadero for coffee. Here are some possible destinations.
- Half Moon Bay Trails & Beaches & map – Biking along the coast is fun too.
- Back from Biking Skyline Ridge to SF hike-bike-surf-fly Activities
- Back from Biking Skyline Ridge to San Francisco Bike Tours
- Top of page and Home Page