The Mendocino Coast has some great mountain biking — you just have to know where to look. Two of the most popular areas are the Jackson State Demonstration Forest and the Mendocino Woodlands State Park.
Jackson State Demonstration Forest
This 50,000 acre woodland is wide open for biking. Be cautious though—this is an easy place to get lost. Though there isn’t a lot of logging activity right now, forestry activities can close roads and trails, turning your loop ride into a longer than expected out-and-back! The most popular single-track is the Road 500 trail. The JDSF Recreational Access blog is a good resource on this park.
Mendocino Woodlands State Park
The Woodlands, as it is known to locals, is a jewel. One of the sweetest single-tracks on the coast, Manly Gulch, is located there. The image above shows me threading a narrow stretch of single track. Here is a trail map of the Woodlands.
Other mountain biking areas
The Big River unit is a massive new addition to the Mendocino Headlands State Park. Most biking opportunities are double track and the main haul road is heavily used. Still, you get beautiful views of the river and wildlife, even if you do have to share the scenery.
Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, located well north of Fort Bragg, is off limits to bikes. But two roads on the back side of the wilderness area allow you to explore incredibly beautiful, rugged and isolated country.
Caveats and resources
The usual caveats apply: respect other users, don’t ride single-track trails in the winter when they are wet. You know the drill.
As far as resources go, Caltrans District 1 Bicycle Tourism is an excellent and very detailed guide to riding bicycles along the Mendocino Coast
We haven’t really talked about regular road bikes because there are limited opportunities for fun riding. Most of the trails are gravel or dirt. You can ride along Highway One, as many people do each summer, but it’s not the most pleasant of rides. You’re right next to a lot of traffic, and there are no shoulders for most of Highway One along the Coast (no bike lanes, either). A friend of mine uses his road bike on One every morning for training, but he starts riding before the sun comes up. Ugh!
The Haul Road in Fort Bragg that starts at Pudding Creek is paved, with a few washed out sections. You can ride for perhaps 4 miles before you get to the miles-long break in the road. You can also follow many of the bluff trails in MacKerricher on a road bike, since they are pretty smooth. I’d make sure to have Kevlar tires, though!
- Catch a Canoe and Bicyles, Too: Bike rentals, purchase and repair, Hwy 1 & Comptche-Ukiah Rd., Mendocino, 707-937-0273.
- Fort Bragg Cyclery: Bike rentals, purchase and repair, 221 N. Main St., Fort Bragg, 707-96543509.