Gravel Rides for Starters

Best Gravel Rides for Starters in California

Finding gravel rides for starters can be a significant tipping point as you have only one shot at a first impression.

Whether you’re just converting from a road bike or completely anew to cycling at all, finding that initial spot to light that fire can be tough in California.

Over two-thirds of people living in this state are by the coast which means terrain can be mountainous as well as the number of ranges inland.

Many of the well-known gravel locales requires a fitness level and handling skills that might take a few rides to feel comfortable, so you want your first experience to feel like reaching that point is attainable.

Best Gravel Rides for Starters in California

If you follow the recommendations in this video, I highlighted seven routes across this state that blend easy riding with great scenery to accentuate (from north to south) which you can find in this collection:

  • Bizz Johnson Trail
  • Half Moon Bay
  • Calero County Park
  • Wilder Ranch State Park
  • Carrizo Plain National Monument
  • Sycamore Canyon (Point Mugu State Park)
  • Lake Hodges

Please check the notes as I’ve added information about places to stop and other options as your skills progress.

By no means are these the only places to have these experiences, but just a few spread out spots that shouldn’t be too far from most.

Notably, I left out a good part of the Central Valley area with my reason being there are so many places to ride, that it’s better to find one of the many groups within.

This area is blessed with likely the best access to the largest pool of milage thanks to all the access points and parallels to all these waterways thanks to rivers and the amount of farmland, so check out Bike Dog Brewing in Sacramento, Fresno Cycling Club and Grizzly Cycles among others.

Always gorgeous riding alongside Half Moon Bay

I don’t think you can find a recreation that has more camaraderie as a group than cycling, so connecting is a great ways to add a social aspect as well as a knowledge base to find more opportunities which you can find here.

Another side to look at are also events as they provide well-curated routes that includes ride support.

The level of difficulty normally goes up, so ranking the rides in the video:

  • (1.5 of 10 degree of difficulty) Survival Century Family Ride – 13 Miles
  • (1.5 of 10 ) Lassen Gravel Adventure Mini Squatch – 14 Miles
  • (3 of 10) Mammoth Tuff – 40 Miles
  • (3.5 of 10) Shasta Gravel Hugger Half Hug – 35 Miles
  • (4 of 10) Everyone Loves Raymond Pint – 35 Miles
  • (4.5 of 10) Greenhorn Gravel Fool’s Gold – 39 Miles
  • (4.5 of 10) Mini Huffmaster – 55 Miles
  • Tour de Big Bear (Route changes each year, but between 4 – 5.5)

I might be overrating the degree of difficulty, but when you consider an “8” is normally an 80 mile ride with 8,000+ ft of climbing, then you might get an understanding.

If you’re looking for more of a connection, don’t forget your local bike shops are great resources for routes and other riders that will help steer you in the right direction.

Gravel riding doesn’t have to be perfect, so taking that first step will be more than enough to get your journey rolling.