Old La Honda/Tunitas Creek



This ride is one of the many options over the Skyline Ridge from the peninsula to the coast. Old La Honda is the easiest climb over the top at 3.37 miles and 7% grade. Dress for variable weather. It can be 30 degrees colder at the coast than in Woodside, no exaggeration. Summer weather pattern is generally warm and sunny in Woodside with a fog bank hanging on the west side of the ridge, all the way to the ocean. Even if sunny all the way to the coast, the temperature will drop considerably. In winter, prepare for cold and wet at the top of the ridge, with snow very rare but possible. You can take this ride in either direction, but OLH is not as fun a descent as Kings Mountain, as it’s too tight for a bombing descent.


Map My Ride: OLH/Tunitas Creek
Google Earth View (Download)


Start out at Woodside Town Hall, which has ample parking and is close to all “Loop” options. Head down Whiskey Hill Road toward Sand Hill road. Take a right (west) on Sand Hill, and follow until you see the turn for Old La Honda on your right (about 2.5 miles or so). It’s not well marked, so keep your eyes out for the green road sign. Head up Old La Honda for 3.37 miles. This is a steady, but fairly challenging climb.

Top out at Skyline (Highway 35) and watch out for extremely fast traffic coming around the corners as you cross. Cross directly and head down west Old La Honda. This is a fun descent, with rollers and quick turns through the trees. As you come out into the open meadows, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the hills and ocean, if the fog is co-operating. Watch for gravel on the corners on this part of the descent.

Connect with Highway 84 and head left down towards the ocean. Route option: Take Pescadero Creek Road to add miles and end up at Pescadero State Beach and town of Pescadero. Hilly. Otherwise, stay on 84 ’till you get to Stage Road and the general store, which is a good place for coffee and a bite. Opens at 9 am most days. On this route, we take Stage Road north to connect immediately with 101 north. Route option: Take Stage Road south to Pescadero. Hilly. Otherwise, climb sharply up Stage Road northbound, and hook up with 101 north. Descend (fun!) down into the creek valley, and take in spectacular views of the ocean and cliffs (fog dependent). After crossing the ravine, take a right on Tunitas Creek Road.

Take Tunitas Creek road all the way back up to Skyline. It starts out shallow, winding through farms, then moves up into a steeper climb in the woods. The middle section is difficult, hitting what feels like about 8-10% grade consistently for a couple of miles on rough, patchy road. About 3 miles from the top, you feel like you’re coming to the end of the climb, but it follows along the ridgeline until Skyline (Highway 35).

Cross 35 and descend steeply down Kings Mountain Road. Watch for cyclists and cars, especially on the many hairpin corners. Surface is generally very good. Has very twisty sections near the top, and smooths out a bit nearer to the bottom, but is windy and fun the whole way down. Take care on this descent.

Take a left a the stop sign at Kings Mountain Road until you hit Highway 84 eastbound, and take a left into Woodside, back to the Town Hall.


Distance: 39 miles (63 kilometers)
Total Climbing: 3482 ft. (1062 meters)


The Good:
You won’t believe this remote-feeling ride is right on your doorstep. Feels like hundreds of miles to the nearest city. Great climbs, great scenery.

The Bad:
Fog bank can kill views and chill you to the bone.



6 Responses to “Old La Honda/Tunitas Creek”

  1. 1 Scott W.

    This is a great ride. Alto Velo does this ride on Saturday mornings, several times per year, so check their website (altovelo.org) if you want a sizable group to ride with at a moderate-to-aggressive pace (not Spectrum hammer fest, but not slow either).

  2. 2 Jim Thurber

    This is a wonderful way to truly see the Bay Area. The west side of Old La Honda is one of the prettiest rides anywhere but BE CAREFUL when turning left onto Highway 84. Cars / motorcycles travel at tremendous speed on 84 and the left turn is truly blind.

    I ride it on a Fixie which is a total blast but it involved swapping wheels a few times (23 fixed gear on one side / 18 spinner on the other). The only tough spot is up Stage Road from San Gregorio — I leave it in freewheel and just stand / pump like mad to get up the hill. Alas, sometimes I even walk. After I coast down to Tunitas and ride up the three times (until the hill starts) I leave it in freewheel.

    When Tunitas starts going UP I stop and swap the wheel again (I should get a skewer) and tackle the (relatively simple) Tunitas. Tunitas is a nice climb, shady. Don’t EVER ride down Tunitas, however. The pavement surface is awful. Going up, no problem. Coming down it’ll shake your fillings loose.

    At the top I re-swap the wheel (getting tired yet?) and coast down King’s Mountain to Robert’s Market at woodside for a well deserved Australian Gatorade (beer!).

  3. 3 Matt

    Great description, just replace 101 with 1.

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