Hearst Castle by Bike – Dream On

About 17 miles north of San Simeon the climb begins on Hwy 1.

About 17 miles north of San Simeon the climb begins on Hwy 1.


Unfortunately cyclists will never experience Hearst Castle by bike, and what a ride it would be. It’s five miles from park headquarters to the footsteps of La Cuesta Encantada at 490 meters (1,600 feet) overlooking the rugged Santa Lucia Range. The first mile climbs gently but after that it’s a lung-buster with sections of 15 percent or more.

Well there’s always the coast highway. Highway 1 offers some spectacular views of the rugged Pacific coast, but that would not be a 20-mile stretch heading north from Cambria. It’s mostly flat. On a gloomy cool day with the hills shrouded in fog, the ride does not inspire. You’ll have to visit Hearst Castle for that; you will not be disappointed.

Not to be missed are the elephant seals that reside on the beach five miles north of San Simeon. Nearly hunted to extinction for their oil, they’ve made a healthy comeback. Now at least 10,000 seals live in the vicinity. They don’t seem to mind humans behind fences peering down.

Elephant seals like to sleep on the beach a few miles north of San Simeon.

Elephant seals like to sleep on the beach a few miles north of San Simeon.

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3 Responses to “Hearst Castle by Bike – Dream On”

  1. Barry Chaffin Says:

    Can you expand on “Unfortunately cyclists will never experience Hearst Castle by bike”. I assumed the post would focus on the why of that.

    • Ray Hosler Says:

      Hearst Castle is owned and managed by the state of California. Access is restricted to buses that carry visitors and the occasional employee car. The road is barely wide enough for a bus.

      That reminds me of another road in Switzerland from Grindelwald to Meiringen. I rode that with Jobst Brandt. It was the same situation, restricted to buses. That didn’t stop Jobst though. We got off the road when the bus drove by. And it had electrified cattle guards, long poles across the road.

  2. Tony R. Says:

    While the state might not let you climb to the castle, there are at least two other roads along the Monterey county coast (well north of SLO county and San Simeon) that likely offer similar views.

    Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd., about 3 miles south of Limekiln St. Park goes up pretty steeply for about 7 miles; I’ve never been on it, but it appears you can see the coast for most of that.

    The New Camaldoli Hermitage drive, a private road about half a mile southeast of Lucia, climbs about 800 ft (to an elevation of 1300 ft.) in 2 miles. It has wonderful views of the coast the whole way. While this goes to a private religious retreat, I suspect that occasional visitors that went up and back down quietly and respectfully would not be objectionable. (My group had reservations to stay at the retreat, so we had implicit permission to use the ungated road.)

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