Route 84: A drive from Woodside to San Gregorio

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Route 84: A drive from Woodside to San Gregorio: State Route 84 from the town of Woodside to the Coast Highway at San Gregorio passes through redwood groves and mountain switchbacks, by motorcycle hangouts and an influential site of the psychedelic era. In the early 1960’s Ken Kesey and some of the Merry Band of Pranksters resided in La Honda, where the One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest author wrote new works and LSD flowed freely. This spirit remains in the area and these days the route is a two wheel paradise offering well maintained roads, hiking, horseback riding, camping, rodeos and good eats.

Alice’s Restaurant (17288 Skyline Blvd., Woodside): At the junction of Highway 84 and Highway 35 is Alice’s Restaurant, bought by Alice Taylor in the 1960’s and renamed after herself and the now famous Arlo Guthrie musical monologue. The restaurant features outdoor and indoor seating, a full bar in the back overlooking the forest and live music on Thursday evenings. Burgers on the menu are named after the motorcycles parked out front, including a Harley with bacon, sausage, cheddar, jack and grilled onions or a Yamaha with free range chicken breast, teriyaki, pineapple and jack. Meals consist of locally grown, sustainable foods and include breakfast, salads and vegetarian options.

Wunderlich Park and Folger Stable (4040 Woodside Rd., Woodside): Once owned by the Folger Family, of Folger coffee fame, the park was sold to Martin Wunderlich who deeded 942 acres to San Mateo County for use as a public park. Miles of trails go through dense redwoods and open meadows, atop ridges and connect to neighboring parks. Near the center of the park is Salamander Flat, once an irrigation pond and now the breeding ground for rough-skinned newts. Trails vary from beginner to more advanced and begin at Folger Stable, a horse boarding barn and facility. Folger Stable Museum is open Saturdays from 10am to 4pm.

Applejack’s (8790 Highway 84, La Honda): Blending into the trees this wooden watering hole brings in locals, tourists and bikers on the way to the coast or out for a Sunday drive. It once was a blacksmith shop in 1879, a bar in the early 1900’s, and a speakeasy during prohibition, then a bar ever since. Live music on weekends brings in acts ranging from classic rock to reggae and there is a dance floor for those inclined.

Best Buck in the Bay Rodeo at Driscoll Ranch (5460 La Honda Rd., La Honda): September brings the Bay Area Chapter of the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association (GSGRA) to La Honda for a weekend filled with bull riding, barrel racing, drag performances, beer busts and dancing. The GSGRA is a non-profit, charitable organization that supports the LGBT community and brings together those who want to learn and participate in the country-western lifestyle. This is the only gay rodeo in Northern California but the events happen nationwide throughout the year and culminate at the World Gay Rodeo Finals in October, this year in Fort Worth, TX.

San Gregorio General Store (7615 Stage Rd., San Gregorio): Opened as a general store since 1889, the shop offers an eclectic mix of anything from books to overalls and the bar serves wine and sandwiches. The store is host to musicians on weekends, including bluegrass, folk, rock, country and blues acts.

San Gregorio State Beach (Highway 1, San Gregorio): The San Gregorio creek forms a freshwater lagoon at the entrance to the beach and a sandbar beyond this provides a place to picnic or sunbathe. The walk to the sandbar from the parking lot can be somewhat tricky; several logs are used to get through the lagoon, depending on the water level. Nude usage began around 1966 on the northern side of the beach, which has a separate entrance and parking lot. Check out the live cam (http://www.freewebs.com/sangregoriobeach/) of the beach for possible fog.

Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

Published on October 3, 2013

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