Like your roads wide and telling? Then you won’t like Route 146 in Central Coastal California, leading wayward motorcycle riders to Pinnacles National Park. Replete with enough narrow roadways, blind corners, and secret twists that you may want to trade in your motorbike for a unicycle to better navigate your way back home.
Starting out is real easy. Anyone can enjoy the cozy travel north along Route 101 from Paso Robles, cruising through ample wine country, enjoying the Santa Lucia Mountains along the west and the Temblor and Diablo Mountain ranges along the east.
But when you exit at Soledad and head east along Rt 146, the road becomes as narrow as your bathroom door and as twisted as your bathroom plumbing. Much of the roadway has no painted lines on the sides or middle and you would be wise to hug to the right as you snake through turn after turn after turn where you have no idea if anything is coming at you from the other direction. And if there would be, they sure as heck wouldn’t have much room to maneuver.
If you don’t like tight, winding roads, you also probably will not enjoy the periodic pavement drops that result in unplanned airborne excursions when running up some of the asphalt inclines too enthusiastically. It does make for some interesting moments of reflection about the once-in-a-lifetime value of a posted speed limit.
Pinnacles National Monument itself is a pleasant-enough payoff for navigating the tortuous travails of Rt 146. In fact, the road dead-ends at the park visitor center. Yesiree, if you want to check out the “other” side of the park, it’s a looooooong way back and around to the eastern entrance. But I diverge. The spires and crags of the namesake “Pinnacles” are the remnants of a long-ago volcano that was doing its own rock and roll swagger across ancient Central Coastal California in alignment with the San Andreas fault. For the nature lover, there is ample hiking amongst the towering rocks as well as opportunities to view the condors, some with wing spans up to 10 feet wide (wider than parts of Rt 146).
Whenever you are ready to hit the road, you will enjoy twice the fun as you retrace some 17 miles of convoluted pavement to get back to Rt 101: And if you pass someone riding a unicycle, be sure to wave…it will probably be me!