Top 5 Motorcycle Routes Around Oakland, California

Oct 25, 2021


Ducati rental motorcycle ridden near Oakland.

Apart from San Francisco, no city in the Bay Area is more important than Oakland. A shipping hub for the west coast, Oakland is also the region’s second-largest city. Once a mix of terrace prairies, oak woodlands, and coastal sage scrub, Oakland’s timber and agricultural capacity was leveraged to build San Francisco. After the devastating 1906 earthquake, many San Franciscans relocated to Oakland, and the city has grown in population and stature ever since. 

And what better way to explore Oakland than on a motorcycle? This area showcases rolling hills, sunny canyons, and shaded roads. Ride through the winding roads of Mount Diablo, or take a cool seaside cruise around Mount Tamalpais. 

Check out the five motorcycle routes in this article. Taken together, these routes should give the adventurous motorcycle enthusiast a diverse sample of the Bay Area’s geography. Rent a motorcycle from Riders Share and make the mountains and motorcycle routes of Northern California your playground.

1. Reliez Valley Rd/Bear Creek Rd

One-day trip — 28 miles

The Reliez Valley Rd/Bear Creek Rd is the perfect way to begin your Oakland-based adventure and relieve the stress of commuting in the more crowded areas of the East Bay.

Aside from shady canyons and sunny open roads, Reliez and Bear Creek Roads are great ways to survey the region just northeast of the Berkeley area— littered with reservoirs and rolling hills. In particular, the San Pablo and Briones Reservoirs are ideal places to hop off your bike and enjoy a walk near the water. 

This route appeals to every rider. Those who enjoy leisurely rides will like the gentle curves, while those with a wild side will appreciate twistier sections. Reliez and Bear Creek Roads are smooth and have been repaired in the past couple of years.

Amenities are few and far between on this route. It’s designed for sunny, hour-long afternoon cruises, so you shouldn’t have to stop for gas or food while on the road.

2. Mount Diablo Summit Run

One-day trip — 21 miles

You can’t claim to have explored the Bay Area’s best motorcycle roads without making a trek up Mount Diablo. The Mount Diablo Summit Run goes to the top of this tall mountain and back down.

This route takes you from the foothills all the way to the top of Mount Diablo, and the site of a large state park. On the mountain’s peak, you’ll be approximately 3,800 feet above sea level; on a clear day, you can get an astonishing view of the Bay Area, the Sierras, and even the Central Valley. The summit’s visitor center is designed to give you a high and unobstructed panorama of the Bay Area, including the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Learn some history at the visitor center too—they play a 20-minute movie describing Mount Diablo State Park and the mountain’s geology. Even better, you can hike, picnic, and camp in scenic spots all over the park. “Rock City” has some interesting sandstone rock formations that are fun to climb.

Because this route passes through hills and climbs up the mountain, you’ll be doing a fair amount of technical driving on a short stretch of road. It throws a series of 25-mile-per-hour turns your way, and a few 15-mile-per-hour corners. The altitude change is rapid, and these corners are rarely banked. This route is extremely popular with bicyclists, so practice caution when passing.

Although there aren’t any amenities on the road itself, food and gas are located within five minutes from the route’s entrance and exit gates. Try Rocco’s Ristorante Pizzeria in the first shopping center outside of North Gate. On a final note, we recommend bringing the $10 entrance fee to the park with you. Get your money’s worth by doing a couple of laps in either direction.

3. The Electric Loop

One-day trip — 57 miles

As we move further south of Oakland, we get closer to the rolling hills and numberless wind turbines of the Tri-Valley and Central Valley. The Electric Loop is your best chance to survey the area.

Ride the Electric Loop if you want wide views of the Altamont Pass wind farms and its imposing, pristinely white wind turbines. You can also get visually acquainted with the cities of Tracy and Livermore, and the Tri-Valley and Central Valley regions of California. 

This route mostly consists of single-lane roads. The pavement is good in most places, although there are a few spots of so-so quality. All in all, this route is perfect for some laid-back cruising.

Don’t worry about finding gas on this route. There’s plenty of gas stations scattered throughout the Electric Loop, especially where Patterson Pass Road and I-580 meet.

4. The Panoramic Highway

One-day trip — 9 miles

Head north of Oakland and across the San Francisco Bay to Mount Tamalpais, and you’ll have the opportunity to ride a breezy but exciting motorcycle route—The Panoramic Highway.

This trip goes through Mount Tamalpais State Park, so you’re guaranteed to get some awesome mountain views of the forests and the Pacific. The park surrounds Mount Tamalpais, Mount Diablo’s companion mountain on the other side of the San Francisco Bay. Luckily for you, Mount Tamalpais and the surrounding region is located a lot closer to the ocean, so it makes for much cooler riding than Mount Diablo State Park, which is hotter and located farther inland.

The Panoramic Highway consists of narrow mountain roads brimming with twisties, so it definitely won’t be a boring nine miles. It’s generally well-paved, too. If you keep your eyes on the road and exercise caution, you'll have a safe ride.

This route is so short, you needn’t worry about food and fuel. If you have a need for either, stop at the start of your journey in Stinson Beach.

5. Highway 1 - San Mateo Coast

One-day trip — 62 miles

Our last route takes us to the southern half of the San Francisco Peninsula and down one of the most famous routes in America: Highway 1 - San Mateo Coast. This top-notch scenic drive never gets old, and is rife with opportunities to explore California’s bustling coastline.

Highway 1 is as far west on the continent a rider can go without getting on a boat. You’ll get those characteristically breathtaking views of the Pacific to your right, along with quaint farmland visuals to the left. The densely wooded hills between Pacifica and Santa Cruz will remind you of Ireland.

Rolling hills, long straightaways, and sweeping turns are standard fare on this portion of Highway 1. The surface of the highway is well-paved throughout. Your only cause for caution will be the amount of pedestrian traffic near the state beaches, and the occasional motorhome.

There’s no shortage of places to eat on Highway 1. Nick’s on Rockaway Beach and Gorilla BBQ (Pacifica) are tasty ways to begin your journey, especially if you like oysters or BBQ. Further south, you can grab a coffee and stretch your legs at Half Moon Bay. If you happen to stop in Pescadero, try the artichoke soup and olallieberry pie at Duarte’s. Davenport has some memorable coffee and ice cream. As for Santa Cruz, the Boardwalk has enough to satisfy all your desires and more.

Now you’re ready for a series of informed excursions into pretty much every nook and cranny of the Bay Area worth a motorcycle ride. If you need more roads to pad your afternoon or morning outings, then read the Best San Francisco Motorcycle Riding Routes and Top-5 Motorcycle Routes Near San Francisco articles.