Map of Cycle Sonoma & the Napa Valley including United States Of America

Hear it on the grapevine – cycling is the best way to explore California’s wine country

Combine wine, rugged coastline and the best Northern California has to offer as you cycle from stunning wine country to epic redwood forests and on to the rugged Pacific Ocean coast. With great weather, breathtaking scenery and over 500 vineyards, the valleys of Napa and Sonoma are a cyclist's paradise. Off the bike, you’ll find wine tastings, amazing cuisine and a wealth of history to experience, and this cycling adventure takes in the best of it at a pace set to enjoy rather than race, making it a trip for every rider. If you're looking for an unforgettable vacation for all five of your senses, look no further.


Start
San Francisco, United States
Finish
San Francisco, United States
Destination
United States
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
SSXS
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Make your way through California’s most famous wine county the relaxed way – with plenty of breaks for tastings along the way.

  • Be (literally) dwarfed by nature in Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, pedal through quaint Californian towns, past rolling fields and explore the petrified forest. With a leader that knows the area inside-out by your side, all you have to do is enjoy the journey.

  • Swap wine country for dramatic ocean views as you cycle alongside the Russian River all the way to the seal colonies of seaside Jenner.

  • The only thing better than the landscapes you’ll see and wine you’ll taste is the conversations you’ll have along the way, whether it’s the insights from your leader or stories from the group.

  • Taste local produce at its finest – from legendary wines to the freshest California cuisine – with a local leader’s expert insight to guide you to the best spots.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations and working with new partners can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

  • Please ensure you consult your local government’s advice regarding domestic travel prior to booking this trip.

  • To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.

  • While the cycling distances on this trip are relatively short the stunning terrain of northern California is naturally hilly so you’ll need a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy the trip – but remember, we will always have the support vehicle on hand if you need to take a break for an hour or a day.

  • For groups of less than 6 clients we have a single leader that drives the support vehicle alongside the group. For larger groups, we have a separate driver and the leader will cycle all routes. Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a backmarker.

  • As our riding is done mostly on sealed roads with the occasional gravel cycle path there are no technical cycling skills required – but given the occasional hills involved, we do suggest practicing riding downhill so you are comfortable with this once the trip begins.

  • If you feel like doing all the riding but with less effort, you have the option of hiring an electric bike (e-bike) on this trip.

Itinerary

Welcome to your California cycling adventure. Leave San Francisco and head north across the world-renowned Golden Gate Bridge for the one-hour journey to the heart of the renowned Sonoma Valley winemaking region and the historic town of Sonoma. Here you’ll be fitted to your bike and, after a short safety talk, start your first ride in Californian Wine Country, enjoying a gorgeous route through the pastoral beauty of the farms and vineyards – and why not enjoy an optional tasting at one of the wineries along the way. Finish up your ride with a return to Sonoma via the same route and drop into the tree-lined town plaza, visiting the historic Mission San Francisco Solano and the Sonoma Barracks. This is where the 1846 Bear Flag Revolt took place in a bid to separate California from Mexico. Refuel from your first ride tonight by choosing from the range of top-quality restaurants that line the square.
Accommodation
  • Hotel/Motel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s riding distance is approximately 51 kms/32 miles, mostly flat for the first 17kms /11 miles, then undulating, with approximately 355m/1170ft of elevation gain. It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be checking insurance and emergency contact details at this time. If you are going to be late, please let an Intrepid representative or your travel agent know. The meeting spot is at the San Francisco Marriott Fisherman's Wharf at 9 am. If you are driving, you can meet the group at 10 am in Sonoma – you can leave your car there for the week.
After a hearty breakfast, saddle up and head to the historic and agricultural hub of Petaluma. Your first stop today is the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park. The Rancho Petaluma Adobe here – thought to be one of the best-preserved buildings of its era in Northern California – was the main house of General Vallejo, a key political figure in the transition of California from Mexico to the US. Continue on to the town and its well-preserved historic centre, which includes many buildings that survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Here you can choose to stop at one of the many creameries selling local produce from the surrounding farms – you’ll definitely want to sample the local cheese and ice cream. Continue cycling north to the remote but beautiful Bennett Valley, stopping by a winery that, in addition to its wine, is known for its fragrant lavender fields. You are welcome to enjoy a tasting here (not included) before cycling all the way downhill to Santa Rosa, your home for the next two nights.
Accommodation
  • Hotel/Motel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s riding distance is approximately 60 kms/37 miles, a small hill near the start, mostly flat then a steep climb at around 43kms/27 miles before descending the last 15kms/9 miles. Approximately 460m/1500ft of elevation gain.
After breakfast, you’ll avoid a long climb by transferring by vehicle (approximately 25 minutes) to the Petrified Forest, where you can walk among the fossilized trees perfectly preserved in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption of nearby Mt St Helena some 3.4 million years ago. From here take to your bike and ride into the Napa Valley proper, enjoying a freewheeling descent into the hot springs town of Calistoga. From here you are welcome to explore some Napa wineries, including the option of visiting Chateau Montelena, which has its place in wine history with its 1976 win of the Judgement of Paris that put California on the world stage for wine quality. Even if you don’t taste there, the grounds are an impressive sight. From here ride back into Sonoma County via the Franz Valley and over Chalk Hill to return to Santa Rosa for the evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel/Motel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Petrified Forest visit
Optional Activities
  • Chateau Montelena Winery visit - USD25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s riding distance is approximately 68 kms/42 miles, starts with a small uphill then sharp descent, then undulating lightly downhill, with approximately 630 m/ 2070ft of elevation gain.
Today pedal west along mostly flat roads to the town of Sebastopol, once a prime apple-growing region now turned over into vineyards. Here, lining Florence Ave, you’ll be treated to the whimsical and slightly surreal sculptures made from scrap metal by a local artist couple. Then continue north to the Russian River Valley, one of the cooler wine-growing regions in northern California, specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – you’re free to stop to taste along the way to Healdsburg. Tonight is free for you to explore the town of Healdsburg, and your leader will have a number of suggestions for you in a town that’s as much about food as wine.
Accommodation
  • Hotel/Motel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s riding distance is approximately 42kms/26 miles, slight downhill for the first 10 kms/6 miles, undulating for 20kms/12 miles, then mostly flat with approximately 250m/820ft of elevation gain.
Today is a true cycling highlight as you ride into the heart of Californian redwoods country at the Armstrong Redwoods State Park. It’s impossible not to marvel at the 1,400-year-old trees that tower over 300 feet high, so take some time to appreciate the majesty of nature. Then leave wine country behind and follow the Russian River through light forest all the way to the small coastal town of Jenner, where the river meets the Pacific Ocean. You’ll be able to take in the sight of harbor seals beached on the riverbank with the ocean waves crashing behind them. From here drive (approximately 40 min) back to Healdsburg. This afternoon you’ll have some free time to simply relax. Or maybe consider enjoying the many tasting rooms in town or treating yourself to a massage at a nearby spa.
Accommodation
  • Hotel/Motel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Armstrong Redwoods State Park
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s riding distance is approximately 67kms/42 miles, undulating with approx. 525 m/1720ft of elevation gain. Please note that at time of writing Armstrong Woods is currently closed due to the wildfires that ravaged the area in Aug 2020. It is due to reopen “sometime in 2021”, but even if it’s closed you will ride to redwoods nearby.
The final ride of the week will include some truly classic wine country cycling as you spend the morning making your way on the Dry Creek Loop along quiet back roads dotted with welcoming vineyards. There’s a single steep climb along the way up to the Lake Sonoma Overlook but the 360-degree view from the top across Lake Sonoma Bridge and the Russian River is a true highlight (as is the descent back down the same road you just rode up!). At the end of the ride head back to the hotel, where you’ll have a chance to return to your room to freshen up and pack before departing Healdsburg. Take the drive back toward San Francisco, taking the leisurely route through the famed Napa Valley, visiting St Helena for lunch (and one last tasting) before arriving back at Fisherman’s Wharf around 3 pm.
Included Activities
  • Napa Winery visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s riding distance is approximately 50kms/31 miles, mostly flat except for one steep climb/descent to Lake Sonoma after 22kms/14 miles, with approximately 525 m/1725ft of elevation gain. The group will return to San Francisco via Sonoma, passing through Sonoma around 2 pm.

Meals

5 breakfasts

Transport

Bicycle (e-bike option available, subject to availability), Support Vehicle

Accommodation

Simple Hotel/Motel (5 nights)

Included activities

  • Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
  • Petrified Forest visit
  • Armstrong Redwoods State Park
  • Napa Winery visit

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Cycle Sonoma & the Napa Valley trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

From 01 September 2021, all travellers on Intrepid trips will be required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Excludes Australia, New Zealand and Cook Islands tours. Read details here.

1. Our meeting spot at the San Francisco Marriott Fisherman's Wharf at 9:00 am on Day 1. If you are driving, we can meet you around 10:00 am in Sonoma.
2. Drop-off at Fisherman’s Wharf is around 3pm. The vehicle transits through Sonoma, arriving around 2pm.
3. A Single Supplement may be available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
4. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so we can organise a suitable sized bike.
5. The included bikes on this trip are a flat bar 'hybrid-style'. You have the option (at extra cost) of hiring an electric bike (e-bike) or a road bike on this trip - this must be requested at the time of booking.
6. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home.
7. For group less than 6 clients we have a single leader that drives the support vehicle alongside the group. For larger groups, we have a driver plus a leader that rides with the group.
8. Accommodation is not included on day 6 of this trip. If you require additional accommodation (or want to reserve your room for the main part of the day) please enquire at time of booking.
9. Due to Covid-19 restrictions some of the local attractions may be temporarily closed, running reduced hours, or require booking ahead. Please check their websites for up-to-date opening hours.

Essential trip information

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