You don’t need a car to transport yourself plus a backpack or bicycle to Mendocino County’s most exhilarating places. Here are six day or weekend trips for hikers and bikers who want to maximize the scenic factor while minimizing their carbon footprints. MTA’s van-style buses have bike racks for two to three bicycles and room for several more inside. There is no extra charge (but do bring your own bungee cords). You’ll be surprised by how much local lore and history you can learn from your driver, so don’t hesitate to tell him or her where you’re headed.
North Coast Ride: MTA offers frequent trips to Fort Bragg from as far south as Santa Rosa (two round trips daily through Saturday, one on Sunday). Get off on Elm Street at Denny’s in Fort Bragg and ride north over the Pudding Creek trestle bridge. Follow easy paths for about 10 miles to McKerricher State Park and Ten Mile Beach where you can walk the beach for miles. It’s a gorgeous out-and-back trip with ocean views the whole way.
South Coast Ocean Hikes: Take the #95 MTA bus (schedule HERE) from Santa Rosa north to Gualala and camp in old growth redwoods at Gualala Point Regional Park or stay at one of several hotels in town. Trails from the campground lead to a broad beach and miles of trails south along ocean bluffs and hidden beaches in Sea Ranch. Next day, hop aboard the early #75 (schedule HERE) headed north to Point Arena, and tell your driver you want to get off at the Rollerville Cafe. Enjoy breakfast (they can pack you a lunch too), then find the trail across the street on the south side of Lighthouse Way that leads onto Stornetta National Monument public lands and miles of trails that follow coastal bluffs between the Point Arena Lighthouse and town. You can see whales offshore year round. Catch the 5pm bus back to Gualala.
Hendy Woods: Hike the Redwoods. Take the MTA #75 bus from either Gualala or Ukiah to the hamlet of Philo in Anderson Valley, and ask your driver to unload you and your backpack at Hendy Woods State Park. Hendy Woods is home to enormous old-growth redwood trees and miles of pristine hiking trails that wander among them. You can camp overnight or — if you’re coming from the coast and returning there later in the afternoon — indulge in a day of hiking before catching the bus back.
Willits Backroads Adventure: This 24-mile ride is best suited for cross or mountain bikes because of several miles of gravel and a few springtime stream crossings. Experience gorgeous woods, vineyards and backcountry farmland with a thrilling downhill finale. Get more details HERE.
Ukiah’s Old River Road: This is one of the most scenic 30-mile out-and-back bike trips anywhere, with options for more miles and big hills. Take the MTA #65 or local #9 to the Pear Tree Shopping Center on East Perkins Street in Ukiah to begin. Ride east on East Perkins Street across the Hwy 101 overpass and turn right onto Oak Manor Road. Continue south onto Babcock Road and turn left onto Talmage. In a quarter mile, turn right onto Ruddick Cunningham Road and follow it through vineyards until it merges with Old River Road. Ride the mostly flat road all the way to Hopland where you can have a great lunch at the Golden Pig or ride back to Ukiah and choose a restaurant downtown. For longer, more challenging rides, either turn left at the roundabout just before Hopland and ride Route 175 toward Lakeport and some steep hills, or continue riding west past Hopland up the steep hills of Mountain House Road.