Watch the video of our descent to Stinson Beach, California.
Making the journey to Stinson Beach is one of the most satisfying trails in Marin County. There are no tourists out this way because of the difficulty involved in both the climb and descent. The climb to reach the crest of Panoramic Highway is a long, arduous path, not for the faint of heart or legs. The descent to Stinson Beach is mentally challenging, very fast and highly technical. The switchbacks toward the end are a series of 180 degree turns over rough road which are entered at high speed and long, steep straightaways leading to the next switchback. The work is worth the reward as this descent is one of the most thrilling in the Bay Area!
Difficulty: Fast and Highly Technical
Descent: 1476 feet of Elevation Loss Over the 4.15 mile Descent
Download your route sheet here: Directions – Roller Coaster Ride
Download your Ride to Stinson Beach and Return to Sausalito Route Sheet here: Directions – Bay to Beach to Ferry
At the end of A Panoramic View you have the choice of continuing your assent up Mt. Tam along Paying the Toll, descending back to Sausalito, or taking the plunge and descending to Stinson Beach. If you choose Stinson Beach, you are in for a thrilling, high-speed descent to the Pacific Ocean.
The descent takes about 10 to 20 minutes, be ready to be in the drops almost that entire time. Cars are a constant factor in slowing you down, but being passed on your way down is pretty unlikely.
The descent starts in the woods and has some high speed straights that lead to sweeping corners.
The corners along this part of the ride are where you will start to catch up with cars.
Though if necessary, you can take a break at the next corner to allow the car more time to get ahead of you, so as to not ruin your ride or overheat your breaks.
The air is always cool on this part of the descent with the canopy of trees.
After spending the first two mile in the woods, you’ll come to an opening and the beginning of the Alpinesque switchbacks.
The panoramic views from the bike here are just picturesque.
It’s worth taking a break to admire the views and take some pictures at this point.
But get ready, the rest of the descent is very tricky. The straights are steep, very fast with smooth roads, but…
The corners at the switchbacks in this area are the roughest part of the road, so pay attention to your entry speed, or you might end up sliding or crashing.
The nature of these turns allow you to tip the bike to extreme angle on this part of the descent, keeping up your speed through the corners.
The last few switchbacks have long straight aways in between where you have to start peddling for the first time since reaching the crest of Panoramic Highway.
A few of the corners toward the end of the descent are a little less technical than those at the top.
Don’t fall asleep though, there are still technical corners lingering at the end of the run. Watch your entry speeds going into these last few corners, the rough roads through the corners make these turns very difficult.
After the last series of swithbacks, the road will level out and end at the Pacific Coast Highway, CA-1.
Make a right to head into Stinson Beach.
When you arrive in Stinson Beach, make sure to stop at the Sand Dollar Restaurant and grab a bite to eat.
Making the journey to Stinson Bach is one of the major achievements for bikers in the Bay Area. It is a ride that can challenge you both mentally and physically. Once you’ve made it, you realize the climb and mentally challenging descent were all worth it. So enjoy a bite to eat before you head back.
Once you are ready to head back to Sausalito, you have two options. The first is to return on Panoramic Highway the way you came. The second option is to return along the Pacific Coast Highway, CA-1 through Muir Beach and make the climb back to Sausalito. Look forward to this article coming soon!
Until then, you can watch video the of return along Highway One in “The Dog Day Are Over” below. Enjoy!