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California Coastal Highway One North

North of San Francisco on Highway One


California Coastal Highway One North

California Highway One

© 2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

Distance: 208 miles from Sausalito to Leggett
Driving Time: 7 hours

Parallel to the San Andreas Fault and bisected by rivers, California Highway One clings to the state's western edge, winding north from Sausalito through Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. North of Fort Bragg, it veers inland, ending where it connects with US Hwy 101 in the town of Leggett.

The two-lane highway follows the coastal contours, rising and falling, zig-zagging around coves and curving around hillsides slopes falling to the sea. Going can be slow and passing lanes are few. Expect to average 30 to 40 miles per hour.

The drive from Sausalito to Leggett can be done in a day, but it would be a tiring one. If your journey continues north, Mendocino is a good place for an overnight stop. Going south, Sausalito or San Francisco have plenty of places to stay.

If you can choose your travel direction, these points may help. Going north, you'll be on the inside of curves, making it the best choice if you or your passengers are nervous about driving above the cliffs. Views are also clearer in that direction. Going south, you don't have to cross traffic to turn off into vista points.

Highway One by County

  • In Marin County, Highway One travels inland from Sausalito, running alongside two pretty bays, but with only a few miles offering ocean views.

  • The Sonoma Coast is lightly populated, with few towns.

  • The Mendocino Coast is by far the prettiest, with the coastal mountains flattening to make room for woods and meadows. Mendocino roadsides blossom in late spring.
Several highways connect Highway One to US 101, a mutli-lane freeway that allows for much faster travel. The maps on the following pages show most of the best routes.

Before You Start Driving on Highway One

Fill your tank with gas and empty your bladder. Both gas stations and restrooms are few and as much as 30 miles apart. If you or anyone in your group suffers from motion sickness, bring your favorite remedies.

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