Mattole Rd

Mattole Rd starts at Hwy 101 at the Humboldt State Park. The road goes through the state park winding through virgin redwood forest.

Redwoods in the Humboldt State Park

Redwoods in the Humboldt State Park

Bull Creek in the Humboldt State Park

Bull Creek in the Humboldt State Park

After about 12 km you get to the first major climb to Panther's Gap. The profile shows this as a steady 7% climb over a 10 km distance, but the first 5-6 km seemed to be a lot steeper. After a short straight ramp around 15%, it's gets easier for about 3 km. The last 1-2 km are getting steeper again, but certainly below 10%.

Panther's Gap is not particular impressive, you have to keep riding for a while before you get views into the Mattole Valley.

The climb from the other side is very similar - the heavy lifting is in the lower parts, the higher you climb, the easier it gets.

Looking South from Panther's Gap

Mattole Valley from Panther's Gap

You reach Honeydew and keep right towards Petrolia and the "Mouth of Mattole River". The road to the left leads to Etterburg and Shelter Cove. If you feel like having a strong day, you can make a loop to extend the century. But keep reading before you decide.

Overlooking Honeyview - 2/3 down from Panther's Gap

Mattole River between Honeydew and Petrolia

You now follow the Mallote River to Petrolia, where you find a well-stocked general store, and then onto the ocean. It's all rolling hills as climb up the bank or get over a ridge where the river makes a big bend.

Before you cross the last ridge to the ocean

Overlooking the Lost Coast

Once you climb the last ridge, you get a beautiful view over the coast line. You see a big rock in the horizon. That's where you leave the beach and climb up again. While you ride up North on the ocean, it's not uncommon that you face strong headwinds.

Lost Coast

Lost Coast

Lost Coast

Lost Coast

Then comes the wall. You see it coming for a few kilometers and then you hit it: for the first 2 kilometers you are in 15% land. So bring the right gears. I made it up with 34:25, but most of the time I had to stand up and “to dance on my pedals”. After you mastered the first two kilometers, it gets a little easier. If you climb from the other it's steep all the way to the top.

The Wall

The Wall

As you descent into the next valley, Capetown, you already see the hills on the other side, you need to climb up again. It's a couple of big switchbacks with about 11% for the first 2.3 km which get you back up (feels like nothing after the wall). Then it’s getting less steep and you can even enjoy about 3 km almost flat. Then you have the final 130 m climb to Bunker Hill. From there it's all downhill to Ferndale. The climb from the other side has its steepest section right out off Ferndale.

Looking down to Capetown - half way up to Bunker Hill

Looking down to Capetown - half way up to Bunker Hill

Ferndale is a nice little Victorian town, tucked in between the mountains, the Ocean and mouth of the Eel River. You can close the loop by taking Grizzly Bluff Rd to Rio Dell, continue through Rio Dell to Scotia. Then you need to take Hwy 101 (wide shoulder) for about 8 km and finish via the Avenue of the Giants.

The Tour of the Unknown Coast follows the loop with start and finish in Ferndale.

The weather can be pretty extreme on the course. When I was riding in early July 2006, I had sun and mid 80 between Honeydew and Petrolia. From the wall to Ferndale is was all fog and temperatures in the 50.