CA-1N | The Pacific Coast Highway – North
- Distance: 404.0 Miles (650.17 km)
- Rating: 4-C, The northern half of California’s Pacific Cast Highway, and our favorite half. Ratings Explained »
- Travel: Either direction for best results
- Start: San Francisco, CA
- End: Crescent City, CA
- Fuel: Several larger towns along the way, but get gas when you can as there are many long stretches without fuel
- Along the Way: Lots of side routes to see big trees, the Tree’s of Mystery and our favorites, the Drive Thru Tree in Leggett.
- Highlights: Famous, scratch that, infamous views of the Pacific Ocean, big trees, fog, clouds and all that other stuff you would expect to see.
- Advisories: Coastal roads means you will see gravel, crumbling asphalt, road heaves, dew on the road and inclement weather at any moment. Plus, even in the dead of summer you will freeze your tookus off; dress warm.
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What motorcycle map section would be complete without the infamous Pacific Coast Highway. We feel the north coast and the south coast are so different we’ll be breaking them into two parts. And we’ll start it off by saying that we totally prefer the North Coast over the south.
Starting in San Francisco, it’s astonishing how quickly the traffic and congestion of San Francisco fall away. The moment you navigate your way through the final neighborhood the road becomes gloriously technical with intense and complex corners that climb their way up and over one last mountain before depositing you onto the coast by Muir Beach.
The road turns north and throws you onto a precipitously exposed section of highway offering incredible views of the ocean. Because of the nature of the terrain, the road itself is not in the best of condition, but that adds to the charm and fun of this road. Fully on sport-bikes will be miserable while rides of bikes with more traditional seating positions will be having more fun – the ultimate being a hyper-motard style motorcycle.
Past Bolinas Lagoon the road heads inland for a while and the cornering dissolves and becomes pretty ordinary until just a few miles past the small community of Tomales. Turn west at the T intersection and you’ll find yourself back on the coast and in the famous town of Bodega Bay; famous for the Hitchcock film The Birds.
From there, enjoy all the coast has to offer, and if you are like us, be amazed at how desolate California can feel. The road will become astonishingly technical in parts, mellowing again as you go through Fort Bragg and again in Mendocino. But just past Mendocino, you will find yourself near one of our favorite parts of Highway 1 as the road heads inland towards Leggett and the kitschy-cool Chandelier drive-thru tree.
Past Leggett, Highway 1 shares its route with the 101 and becomes less awesome until the border with Oregon.
Road Rating System
The first part of our rating describes how technical we feel that road is. Numbers one through five with five being the most technical and one being a more mellow road with few challenging corners. The second half of the rating is a letter grade. A rating of “A” would be a road that is in great condition and a grade-F would be a crumbly, slippery or degraded surface.