Top 5 Motorcycle Routes Around Sunnyvale, California

Oct 3, 2021


Ducati motorcycle ridden in the redwood forests.

Bordered by San Jose, Santa Clara, and Mountain View, Sunnyvale, California is in the heart of Silicon Valley—the Golden State’s hub of technological innovation. But outside of the South Bay’s urban centers, you’ll see rolling hills, twisty mountain roads, and dense forests. Once the scene of the California Gold Rush, the South Bay offers pleasant rides.

Ride over—or picnic at—Chesbro, Uvas, and Calero Reservoirs. When you’ve had your fill of reservoir-riding, journey south into the Santa Cruz Mountains, brimming with 1,000-year-old redwoods. If you’re hungry, get a delicious meal at Alice’s Restaurant, a legend among motorcycle enthusiasts.

In this article, you’ll find five short South Bay motorcycle routes worth repeated riding. Rent a motorcycle with Riders Share (learn how in the How to Rent a Motorcycle in California article), and you’re all set to explore northern California in style. Want more trip ideas? Read the Best San Francisco Motorcycle Riding Routes and Top 5 Motorcycle Routes Near San Francisco articles

1. A Dam Good Ride Too

One-day trip — 25 miles

If you’re looking to get closer to the nature northern California is famous for, you’re in luck. And once you’ve ridden this motorcycle route, you’ll agree that it really was A Dam Good Ride Too. See what we did there?

Start this ride in the town of South Coyote, a 26-mile ride from Sunnyvale via US-101 S. This ride’s chief merit is its scenic quality. Rolling hills, twisty mountain roads, and densely-wooded areas full of Mother Nature’s critters are what you’ll expect to see. If riding during spring, you’ll see lots of flowers, wild deer, turkey, and quail. On top of that, you’ll also be traveling across three huge bodies of water using the Chesbro, Uvas, and Calero Dams. \

Get a taste of history by riding across older bridges in the area—some even date from the 1920s. And don’t forget to check out the Southwest corner of the Monterey Road intersection. Here you’ll find the State Historical Marker for the 21 Mile House, so-named because it’s located 21 miles from San Jose, California. The 21 Mile House was established in 1852 as a tavern and stagecoach stop during the Gold Rush.

Thanks to excellent asphalt surfaces and wide, single lanes in each direction, riding this route is as smooth as butter. There aren’t many corners, and there’s hardly any traffic.

You can find plenty of amenities within a single-block radius. The Monterey Road intersection in Morgan Hill, California hosts all the coffee shops, restaurants, and pizzerias you could ever want. Gas stations and grocery stores are also in abundance.  

2. Uvas Reservoir

One-day trip — 14 miles

The Uvas Reservoir trip is for riders looking for a short run through the South Bay’s rolling hills, or those looking to make a loop out of the A Dam Good Ride Too route.

This adventure takes you through the rolling hills which lie between San Jose and Morgan Hill. Uvas Reservoir is a beautiful sight, especially when the water levels are high. Stop at Uvas Reservoir County Park for a picnic.

You won’t find any challenges on the Uvas Reservoir motorcycle route. This is a lovely little back-road ride with no deep turns. As noted above, you’ll want to make your way to the Monterey Road intersection in Morgan Hill, where Edmundson Avenue turns into Tennant Avenue as it crosses Monterey Road. Here you’ll find several places to grab grub and gas within a one-block radius.

3. San Luis Reservoir Run

One-day trip — 25 miles

The San Luis Reservoir Run is a great way to connect the east and west portions of California’s Central Valley. It’s also an alternative means of getting to Yosemite National Park from Sacramento without getting stuck on congested four-lane highways.

Begin your trip by getting onto Route 152, at Casa De Fruta in Hollister, California (you can reach this location by riding US-101 56 miles south of Sunnyvale.) The San Luis Reservoir Run takes you through California’s Southern Coast Range. You’ll see rolling hills dotted with hardy blue oaks, sticking out of a sea of golden grass (during the springtime, the grass briefly turns green). Stretch your legs at Pacheco State Park located just before the San Luis Reservoir, on the right. You can hike in this area during daytime hours.

Expect a fast run with long, sweeping curves. The pavement on this route is fresh, so there shouldn’t be any potholes and other imperfections to give you trouble. This route also doesn’t have many side roads leading into it, so it’s a lot harder for cross-traffic to be introduced.

Aside from the day-use park mentioned above, there aren’t any amenities between this route’s start and finish. As far as food goes, we recommend eating at the Casa De Fruta in Hollister and Petro Diner in Santa Nella.

4. Pescadero to Alice's

One-day trip — 21 miles

Discover the majestic redwood forests of the Santa Cruz area and a delicious meal to boot with the Pescadero to Alice's motorcycle route!

This route begins at Pescadero State Beach on famed Highway 1—it’s about 50 miles from Sunnyvale if you take I-280 N and then CA-1 S/Cabrillo Highway. The California redwoods—what more can we say? You’ll ride past 1,000-year-old trees as you travel through the Santa Cruz Mountains. Because these prehistoric-looking forests generously provide shade, and the route follows a creek, it stays cool even during the summer months. The beginning portion of the route also affords picture-worthy views, with the ocean and mountains on either side of you.

You and your motorcycle rental are in for a real treat with this route—it’s brimming with exhilarating twists and turns. Expect two-lane roads all the way through. The road was resurfaced a few years ago. Keep an eye out for deer and other potential road hazards.

Alice’s Restaurant is as much a reason to tackle this route as the redwoods. It has a storied reputation among motorcyclists, and you’ll always find a load of them parked outside. AJ’s in La Honda, California is another great restaurant in the area, known for its apple jacks and live music. Those in need of gas can grab it at the gas station at Pescadero State Beach or the one near Alice’s.

5. Ben Lomond to Alice's

One-day trip — 31 miles

For an alternate but no-less-exciting route to Alice’s, try Ben Lomond to Alice’s.

The first thing you’ll need to do is make the 37-mile ride on CA-17 south from Sunnyvale to the small town of Ben Lomond, California. This trip goes through one of California’s most magical redwood forests. You’ll wind in and out of colossal trees, with vineyards and underbrush on either side of you. The redwoods along Big Tree Basin Highway are hundreds of feet tall; looking up at them, you’ll get a shiver up your spine. At certain points, the trees will open up just enough for you to catch some heart-stopping views of the Pacific or San Jose/Silicon Valley. From Alice’s, you can continue on to Santa Cruz via Highway 84, Pescadero Road, and Highway 1. You could also head to San Francisco if you take Highway 1 (Cabrillo Highway) to Pacifica and get onto the 280 going north.

This route is one of the twistier ways of running through SR336/Skyline Boulevard. This means you’ll encounter plenty of tight, technical switchbacks and medium-speed sweepers. The road consists of two lanes throughout, one in either direction. Although the pavement isn’t new, the road is mostly well-paved. At most, expect a few mid-corner bumps. If you happen to be riding when the Bay Area fog is out in full force, reduce your speeds, and take care on damp pavement. Summertime is an ideal time to ride; you’ll avoid fog, and the dense tree coverage provides ample shade.

You can find gas at both ends of the route. Of course, Alice’s Restaurant is the main attraction and the prime destination for hungry motorcycle enthusiasts.

The Golden State’s real treasure is it’s fantastic motorcycle routes. After trying out some of these rides, you’ll be eager to find more of California’s best, whether they’re near San Jose, San Francisco, or even Sacramento.

Riders Share makes renting a motorcycle in California as easy as booking a room with Airbnb. All you have to do is select your favorite street bike.