Must Ride: California Motorcycle Routes

There are so many fantastic biker routes all across the country, but the western coast of California has too many great ones of its own. We did some research to narrow down some of our favorite winding roads. 

Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) (656 miles)

The longest state route in California stretching from Dana Point to Legget (then over to the 101) Pacific Coast Highway or “PCH” is a must do for all motorcycle enthusiasts visiting or living in California as this road offers a diversity of terrain. You will be cruising alongside the ocean on one side and stunning waterfalls, redwood forests, and flowery meadows on the other. PCH never disappoints and ranks nationwide as one of the best motorcycle roads because it offers ocean views, restaurants, beaches, and attractions along the way. There’s nothing to stress when navigating this highway. It’s easy to follow as you will stay on highway 1 the entire time.

This roadway is one of America’s most well-known, and for a good reason — it’s beautiful! Whether you choose to drive the entire thing or just a portion of it, there are plenty of sights to see along the way.

Redwood Ride (123 miles)

If you follow Highway 1 into the town of Leggett , you’ll soon find yourself riding along Highway 101 (Redwood Highway). The Redwood Ride got its namesake from the big, beautiful redwood trees that shade the 123-mile stretch of asphalt. This route has plenty of opportunities for detours, so plan on having several hours to spare to complete it.

Redwood Highway is California’s northern emphasis on US-101, inserting near Leggett all the way up and through Crescent City just before Oregon. Truly one of the purest experiences of organic nature you can get in it’s 175 miles, this route displays some of the largest trees in existence today. Aside from historical-scaled redwoods, you can also visit the Drive-Through Chandelier Tree, Battery Point’s beautiful Lighthouse, and Howland Hill Road.

Conzelman Road (San Francisco) (4 miles)

Conzelman Road passes through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a small slice of perfection just north of San Francisco. If you start your journey crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and take Conzelman Road west toward the coast, a winding four-mile, cliff-side stretch of asphalt will dazzle you with breathtaking coastal views. This short but sweet ride is the perfect way to spend 15 minutes, and you’ll end up near the shore of Bonita Cove and Point Bonita Lighthouse.

One of the most recognizable landmarks of San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge, especially the perspective from the Marin Headlands. The Marin Headlands themselves are beautiful sea cliffs with sweeping views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. The initial climb is a challenge and great training while the descent is extremely steep with sharp turns. It has the perfect mix of beauty and challenge. All of this excitement is accessible with a short ride just across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Woodlake into Sequoia National Forest (25 miles) CA 245

This gorgeous ride full of hairpin turns in unlike any other and will take you right into Sequoia National Forest. Beautiful scenery from all sides surround this route as you start out making your way through some desert patches and into a more forested landscape. The exciting, winding road carves its way through giant one-of-a-kind Sequoia trees that grow wider than most vehicles. There plenty of scenic roadside stops along the way while you enjoy your journey through this breath-taking highway. Start your trip in Woodlake, CA, just 52 miles southeast of Fresno. From Woodlake, your ride is a straight shot up Highway 245 before it merges into Highway 180 in the national forest.

Angeles Crest Highway (60 miles)

The Angeles Crest Highway cuts all the way across the Angeles National Forest, which covers more than 700,000 acres of wilderness in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The curvy mountain road winds through the jagged landscape and around mountain peaks and the scent of fresh pine fills the air, leaving nothing to be desired. This route is definitely an ideal one for adventure seekers with a few hours to spare.

The Los Angeles Crest Highway, or also known as the “Crest” or “AC” has become one of the most popular destinations for motorcyclists due to its fun and challenging roads that intersect the San Gabriel Mountains and the Los Angeles National Forest. This road, when fully open, covers almost 66 miles or about 90 to 120 minutes to complete. The “Crest” is considered by many as one of the most challenging motorcycle roads in Southern California because of its endless variety of elevation gains, drops, twists and turns you experience as you ride along the highway enjoying the fresh air, blue sky, and mountainous views. We do recommend stopping at the Newcomb's Ranch for grub and beverages and check out the endless amount of bikes that will come and go throughout the day. You will begin your route in La Canada, CA and take highway 2 east up into the mountains to the end point of Wrightwood, CA when the road is fully open. Otherwise, the normal turnaround point is Newcomb's.

Montezuma Valley Road (13 miles)

Just 75 miles northeast of San Diego, the Montezuma Valley Road remains a favorite biker spot. If you ride east from Ranchita to Borrego Springs, the sharp curves of the route will take you on an adventure through Montezuma Valley, which provides endless panoramic views from above the desert floor. Surrounded by a rocky landscape, you’ll dip more than 3,000 feet down into the desert and maybe even get lucky enough to spot a Borrego bighorn sheep on the way.

If you’re in the mood for sweeping landscapes fit for a postcard, then we recommend you check out Montezuma Valley Road. This route is a biker favorite due to the many sharp curves where you can put your riding skills to the test. The highway cuts through the desert, so be sure to bring water and stay hydrated as you enjoy the panoramic view.

Sonora Pass (70 miles)

Want the perfect summer route? Sonora Pass offers 70 miles of some of the most gorgeous landscapes you’ll ever see, filled with waterfalls, meadows full of wildflowers and mountains capped with snow to complete the picturesque scene. This may be a great road to take with a significant other, as there are plenty of opportunities to share a special moment.

Each and every one of these, from Dante's View Road to Highway 74, is an unforgettable ride. You’re sure to be in your element from the moment your tires hit the asphalt. Which will you choose for your next adventure?

Dantes View Road (13 miles)

About 140 miles west of Las Vegas, Dante’s View lookout offers some of the most breathtaking views of Death Valley National Park and the drive there is just as magnificent. If you start your ride at Highway 190 and head southeast on Furnace Creek Road for about 7.5 miles, you’ll come to Dante's View Road. There you’ll continue straight for about 5.5 more miles of climbing, scenic road all the way up to the peak. Once you reach Dante’s View at 5,476 feet high, you’ll be able to see for miles across the southern Badwater Basin, Owlshead Mountains, Funeral Mountains, Furnace Creek, and even as far as Nevada’s Mount Whitney on clear days.

Don’t let the name deter you; this route has views that you just can’t find anywhere else. The Dante’s View lookout is especially breath-taking, as it gives you the best view of several iconic natural landmarks:

  • Funeral Mountains
  • Badwater Basin
  • Furnace Creek
  • Owlshead Mountains
  • Mount Whitney

This road is 13 miles of pure hardcore, so take care if you decide to ride.

Palomar Mountain Loop (30 miles)

Exit Interstate 15 and follow Highway 76 east through Pauma Valley until you reach the sign that reads “Palomar Mountain Road,” where you’ll keep left. If you follow that route, you’ll discover an especially diverse ride featuring winding stretches of asphalt road that carves its way through nearly 30 miles of rocky ledges, dense forests, and panoramic views of Palomar Mountain. Much of the loop takes you through the beautiful Palomar Mountain State Park, and the far east segment of the ride offers gorgeous views from Lake Henshaw Overlook, which peers out over more than 1,000 acres of water at the base of the mountain.

Avid motorcyclists say stopping at Mother’s Kitchen Restaurant[4] is absolutely necessary. You’re bound to run into friendly groups of motorists making their way through the mountains here and the menu is chock-full of just about everything from comfort food to breakfast favorites.

Are you looking for a route with varied terrain and views? The Palomar Mountain Loop is an excellent choice for riders seeking something a little different. This 30 miles runs past Lake Henshaw Overlook, dense forest areas and rocky ledges carved high up on Palomar Mountain. If you want to make a day out of it, there are dozens of places you can stop for a picnic or quick hike.

Highway 74 (50 miles)

If you drive east on Highway 74 from Hemet, CA to Indian Wells, CA, an easy and beautiful 50-mile cruise awaits you. You’ll start your drive surrounded by the trees of the San Bernardino National Forest and gradually find yourself in the midst of the dry, sandy dunes of the Palm Desert, closer to Indian Wells. Riders enjoy the bouts of twists and turns with roads climbing the altitudes of the arid landscape.

California Route 74 is one of the lesser-known trips on our list as it serves in connecting Orange County to Riverside County. Make no mistake, though, this route provides as it passes through several parks and National Forests between the pacific coast and Coachella Valley. Route 74 is also known for its dramatic turns and thrilling weather conditions making it a paradise for adrenaline junkies.

Have you ever driven through California’s dunes? They’re a popular destination for all sorts of enthusiasts, and Highway 74 happens to go right through them. This 50-mile stretch offers enough twists to keep you on your toes the entire ride as you pass through San Bernardino National Forest and the Palm Desert.

Route 36 (140 miles)

If you can set aside a couple hours, Route 36 is 140 miles of pure adrenaline. What it lacks in views it makes up for in thrills, as there are numerous patches of this road lack guard rails, as well as twists, turns and roller coaster-drops. Just be sure to ride with care so this outing won’t be your last.

Azusa Canyon

Azusa Canyon area because of its sweeping turns, beautiful views and challenging canyon roads.  Azusa Ave once north of the 210 freeway turns into highway 39 and then the fun begins! To many, this is considered one of the “flowiest” roads in Southern California and rightfully so as it gradually climbs through the canyon passing two large reservoirs and dams. For the full loop, it’s a nice and curvy ride up to Crystal Lake and then back down while admiring the amazing views all along the way.

Big Bear

If you are looking for a truly scenic mountain ride with plenty of twists and turns and 2 different roads up then Big Bear Lake is the ride for you!  By choosing either Highway 330 up, considered the “front”, or the more tree-lined “back road” Highway 38 both options offer great views and vistas and ultimately end up in Big Bear Lake. Both roads offer turnouts for excellent views as you climb up to over 6,000 ft. elevation as well as ample passing lanes so even if you do ride up in an RV you will be able to pass sooner than later! 

Riding up to Big Bear Lake is considered one of the best motorcycle roads in Southern California because of its good clean road and beautiful mountain country. Head up into Big Bear and enjoy all that the mountain town has to offer.

Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway (CA-168) (71.4 miles)

This route begins in Fresno and climbs up to the alpine lakes and granite peaks of the Sierra National Forest. Enjoy all the wilderness you can handle with recreation activities such as camping, rafting, fishing, hiking and even horseback riding to name a few.

Have you ever driven through California’s dunes? They’re a popular destination for all sorts of enthusiasts, and Highway 74 happens to go right through them. This 50-mile stretch offers enough twists to keep you on your toes the entire ride as you pass through San Bernardino National Forest and the Palm Desert.

California Route 33 (83.7 miles)

Starting off initially as an Ojai Freeway from Ventura, CA-33 travels up north transitioning into Maricopa Highway and presenting some of the most compelling terrain for adventuring motorcyclists. You can often find yourself relaxing as the lone rider within the distance and taking turns at a comfortable speed(visit our Motorcycle Safety Tips article here) while enjoying fine scenery and wildlife through the Los Padres National Forest.


We hope that we’ve piqued your curiosity and inspired you to explore the beautiful state of California — and we wish you the best of travels. Tag #WeAreEnMasse on your next adventure. Here are some related articles that you definitely want to check out when considering planning a trip. 

What’s your favorite place to ride your motorcycle? Will you be out riding any of these roads?  Let us know if we missed any of your favorite routes! We want to hear from you!

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