Gravel Bike California: How to Map out Gravel Routes

gravel routes

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Whether you’re planning your own gravel route or using someone else’s there are always steps you should take for the uninitiated.

Plotting out a ride on dirt is far different than on the road because of the many factors you need to look out for such as trail conditions, degree of difficulty, washouts and closures.

For all the knowledge I have for the routes in my area, I still go through these steps because the variables are more likely to change when I do gravel.



Even though our Send it Series of rides isn’t a year old yet, we’ve already had a ride changed due to fire with another one cut a little short by snow (at least we were prepared).

I’ve spent hours looking at maps dreaming up of exotic gravel routes around California, but you can’t show up to do a ride hundreds of miles away with doing your research.

Making this video is a primer for what you should be looking for.

While the internet gives us better resources by the day, we are still far from the point from having everything being taken care for you.

Here’s a list of some of the gravel route resources I mention in the video:

If you haven’t heard of it yet, I can’t help you.

A decent free mapping tool I cross reference my rides with.

Google Maps
More for checking aerials to see what’s dirt vs road.

All Trails
An extensive list of trails across the county you can reference globally.

Trail Forks
Gives great information about types of trails. More robust than most sites, but less then All Trails.

USFS Road Damage Map
Great underutilized resource if you’re riding on Federal lands.

Gravel Map
Coming along as a leader for finding gravel routes

Dirty Freehub
A small collection of some great gravel routes.

USGS Historical Maps
If you’re a map geek, this site allows you to look back in time. Since a lot of the early roads were dirt and cars had difficulty doing big climbs, it gives you an idea about the grade.