Trail: ALPINE DAM — Fairfax to Mt. Tam, Hot Damn!


You’ve followed the Coffee Run and ended up in Fairfax, but aren’t ready to head home, what do you do? If you are up for a challenge, it’s time to head west! This route takes you toward Bolinas, up the Seven Sisters and drops you 2.9 miles from the summit of Mt. Tamalpais. If you still have the energy after conquering this much climbing, the route to the summit is detailed in Welcome to the Top of the World. Once you reach the summit with this route, you’ll be on your way to 5000 feet of climbing from the Ferry Building and just over a mile of climbing if you are brave enough and have the energy to make it back to the Ferry Building.
-Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 46.46 miles; Distance from Marin Crossroads: 33..05 miles; Distance from Sausalito: 37.07 miles; Distance from Coffee Run: 14.26 miles
-Climbing on Route: 2,329 feet (710 meters)
-Distance/Climbing remaining to Mt. Tamalias Summit: 2.9 mile/630 feet (192 meters)
-Difficulty: This is the more difficult way to ascend to the top of Mt. Tam with an initial climb 3.5 miles long that is just the beginning of a tough ride that will challenge any experienced cyclist.
-FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK click here for the full route provided by MapMyRide.com.
-Elevation Map for the Route provided by MapMyRide.com
At the end of The Coffee Run you are left with a question, “Am I feeling up for climbing?”
From the Fairfax Coffee Roastery, make a left onto Bolinas Road.
At the stop sign with Cascade Drive and Frustuck Avenue, follow Bolinas Road toward the left and towards Mt. Tam and Alpine Dam.
Continue following Bolinas Road as it starts to climb just past Deer Park Villa.
The initial climb is quite steep at the beginning approaching grades of 8% and continues for 3.5 miles with an average grade of 4.5%.
Once you reach the Meadow Club Golf Course you then enter the Mt. Tam Watershed district and are only 0.75 miles from the top of the first climb.  The traffic along the road at this point starts to dissipate.
The top of the climb is a parking lot, but just beyond the views of the valley below and Alpine Lake are beautiful.
Follow the road as it descends around hairpin turns and then undulates all the way to Alpine Dam.
Alpine Damn is your last flat road until you return back to the Marin Crossroads.  This is the place to stretch and refill your water bottles before the next climb.
The next climb begins on just the other side of the dam. This second climb is 2.75 miles long and by far the hardest on your way to the summit of Mt. Tam.  It has an average grade of 5.7%, but hovers between 7-8% for most of the climb up to West Ridgecrest Road.
Don’t burn yourself out on this climb, because there is still another two mile climb once you reach the top. Take your time and take in the views.
Once you reach the top, take a left onto West Ridgecrest Road.
This is another good place to stop and stretch as the next climb, the climb up The Seven Sisters (aka The Seven Bitches), starts right away.
The climb up The Seven Sisters is not your normal climb. It is a 2 mile long series of upward undulations with an average grade of 3.4%.  There are sections with grades between 5 & 6% towards the last set of undulations.
Your legs will beg for relief as you make your way up this series climbs, but the views can’t be beat as you will overlook Bolians Lagoon and Stinson Beach below.
Just before the last climb, there is a great place to take a brake, take in the views and maybe even see some hang gliders as they glide over the ocean.
After a quick break to take in the views, you have one last climb until you reach the intersection of West Ridgecrest Road, East Ridgecrest Road and Pan Toll Road.
Once you reach Rock Springs point you’ve climbed over 2,300 feet from Fairfax alone, if you came from San Francisco you are at over 3,000 feet. Now its up to you to determine whether you have the legs to keep climbing up to the summit of Mt. Tam, or if you want to take a break from climbing and head back to Sausalito where you will meet up with the route from the Three Amigos at the intersection with CA-1.
If you decide to finish off the last 2.9 miles of climbing and summit Mt. Tam, follow East Ridgecrest Road to The Top of the World for the last 630 feet.  This is a challenge after such a tough climb, but the views are well worth it!
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Trail: THE SHORT CUT – Cal Park Tunnel – Larkspur Ferry to San Rafael


Have you ever wondered how to get from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal to San Rafael? Use the Cal Park Tunnel! Watch the video and check out the short, flat and easy way to get from Larkspur to San Rafael.

Distance from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and Larkspur Connection: 2.30 miles; Marin Crossroads: 10.52 miles; Distance from Sausalito: 14.54 miles; Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 24.35 miles

Elevation Gain on trail: 157 feet

Difficulty: Whether you are heading home after work, or are going to China Camp to ride, using the Cal Park Tunnel is a short and easy route to make your way to San Rafael from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.
-Elevation Map for the Route provided by MapMyRide.com
Originally a tunnel constructed in 1884 for lumber and freight trains, the Cal Park Tunnel closed over twenty years ago. It was reopened in June 2010 to pedestrians and bicyclists as part of the North-South Greenway as the most direct route between the Larkspur Ferry Terminal to San Rafael.
The directions in the video will take you from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal to the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and 2nd Street in San Rafael.  This intersection opens the routes to China Camp and Sir Frances Drake Boulevard toward Nicasio and Point Reyes Station.

Trail: LET’S GRAB A BEER — San Anselmo to Marin Brewing Company at Larkspur Landing via San Rafael


San Rafael is the gateway to China Camp and a great way to return to the Larkspur Ferry from Fairfax or San Anselmo. San Rafael is not for the faint of heart! The high traffic environment along 2nd Street requires superb bike handling skills and nerve as there are no bike lanes and the drivers see you as an intruder with no right to the road. If you are not ready for the intense traffic, a slower alternate route through San Rafael is also available.

-Trail Starts at mile 2.9 of the Coffee Run
-Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 44.39 miles; Distance from Marin Crossroads: 30.96 miles; Distance from Sausalito: 34.98 miles; Distance from San Anselmo: 6.37 miles.
Elevation Gain on trail: 374 feet
Difficulty: Overall, this is not a difficult route, although the traffic is a bit intense through San Rafael along 2nd Street and the last descent along The Dragon’s Spine is quite fast with a short stopping distance at the end. The two alternate routes provide easier alternatives to both potential obstacles.


Starting in San Anselmo a couple of blocks after Marin Coffee Roasters, turn right onto Bridge Avenue toward Route 24 and then make a

Make a right onto Center Boulevard, following Route 24, follow Center Boulevard across Sir Frances Drake Boulevard. Just after crossing Sir France Drake Boulevard, keep following Route 24 and make the jog to the right off of Center Boulevard and on to Greenfield Avenue.

Follow along Greenfield Avenue until just before it reaches the stoplight, make a right along West End Avenue at that point.

Follow the short West End Avenue until it meets with 2nd Street.

At this point you have two options for going through San Rafael. The shorter, more direct route is to merge with 2nd Street and follow along 2nd Street all the way to Lincoln Avenue.

Faster Option through San Rafael

The slower, less intense alternate route, above, is to cross 2nd Street and take 4th Street all the way to Lincoln Avenue and make a right. 

This route has a bit less traffic, but more stop lights. Neither route has a dedicated bike lane, but the traffic is a bit more friendly on 4th Street.

Slower Option through San Rafael

Once you reach Lincoln Avenue, turn right. Follow Lincoln Avenue until it reaches Irwin Street, then make a right on Irwin Street.

The next traffic light is at Anderson Drive, which is your next decision point.

There are distinct options for getting to the Larkspur Ferry from this point, the first is our favorite, while the second is a good option if you are short on time, or have already had a long ride.

OPTION 1: The Dragons Spine

To follow The Dragons Spine, go straight through the light at Andersen Drive and continue to follow Irwin Street.

There is a stop sign at the intersection with Woodland Avenue, follow Irwin Street straight through the stop sign.

You will start a climb along Irwin Street as it winds its way through a residential neighborhood and by Bret Harte Park.

Along the climb Irwin Street becomes Tiburon Boulevard (although you will notice). After 5 to 7 minutes of climbing, it then becomes Via La Cumbre and the fast rolling portion of the ride begins. Via La Cumbre will skirt along the side of a hill with views of Larkspur and US-101 below.

After another short climb you will pass the intersection with Bret Harte Drive.

Stay to the right and stand for the short, but steep climb as Via La Cumbre splits into parallel one way roads.

This narrow residential road has cars parked and driveways to your right, stay in control and watch for cars as you descend the next hill which will roll into another steep climb.

Follow the road as it continues to wind through the neighborhood to the first Stop sign. Go straight through the stop sign and climb the next small, steep hill.

Then when the coast is clear let it rip and see what you can clock on the radar at the bottom!

Stay vigilant though, as cars may start to back out of their driveways around the corner at the bottom of the run.

Then one last climb and a wide open “Wee Fast Fun” hill to go.

Again, wait for it to be clear and then follow the Pink Bomber’s lead and fly down the last of the descents! The next Stop sign is at the bottom of the hill just after the road starts to flatten out.

Be ready to stop at that point as Via La Cumbre intersects the busy Eliseo Drive. Turn left at Eliseo Drive. Eliseo Drive intersects Sir Frances Drake Boulevard at the stoplight.

Keep following Eliseo Drive straight through the intersection to the next stop sign. Make a left onto the sidewalk and follow the path into Niven Park.

Keep following the path through the park, but watch for dogs off leashes. The path will shortly intersect Bike Route 20.

Make a left onto Route 20 and follow it to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, but don’t turn in just yet. Keep going on the path to the stop light where we will meet with Option 2.

OPTION 2: The Dragon’s Belly

Back at the intersection of Irwin Street and Anderson Drive, to follow The Dragon’s Belly, make a left onto Anderson Drive.

Follow Andersen Drive through lower San Rafael until you reach the bike path entrance just before the intersection with Francisco Boulevard.

Turn onto the sidewalk at this point and follow the sidewalk to the path entrance a couple hundred feet (~70 meters) down the way.

Follow Route 5 onto the Cal Park Hill Path and follow it through the Cal Park Hill Tunnel.

The path will drop you off at the parking lot of the Century Theater at Larkspur Landing.

Turn right into the parking lot, then make another right onto Larkspur Landing Circle.

Follow Larkspur Landing Circle to the stoplight at Sir Frances Drake Boulevard.

Cross Sir Frances Drake Boulevard towards the Larkspur Ferry Terminal entrance, but veer left onto the sidewalk and path.

This is where Option 1: The Dragon’s Spine and Option 2: The Dragon’s Belly merge.

FINAL LEG: Beer Here!

From the stoplight at the Ferry Terminal entrance, follow the path under the pedestrian bridge and then make a quick right.

Where the path meets the base of the pedestrian bridge, make a 180 onto the bridge and follow it over Sir Frances Drake Boulevard.

At the other end of the bridge, cross the road into the courtyard.

Just ahead of you is the Marin Brewing Company.

Stop in to have one of the Brewing Company’s microbrews before you catch the ferry back to San Francisco.

We always enjoy a Mt. Tam Pale Ale or a seasonal brew after a long ride. We also bring any of our friends that join us for a ride.

Being able to return to San Francisco via the Larkspur Ferry is a great way to extend a ride deeper into Marin County. Whether you are hungry for a post-ride meal, have time to kill before the next ferry or just feel like a beer, stopping in at Marin Brewing Company is a great way to meet all those needs. Make sure to say “Hi” if you see us there grabbing a beer!

Trail: COFFEE RUN — San Anselmo and Fairfax


San Anselmo and Fairfax are quaint little towns that loom at the base of the Coastal Range. Both are great spots to start a ride or grab lunch. Restaurants and coffee shops are all along the main drag of each town. Some of our favorite places to eat during a ride are in this area. These towns also hold different festivals throughout the year, so feel free to stop in and find your own favorite spot.

-Trail Starts at mile 6.0 of The Larkspur Connection
-Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 32.22 miles; Distance from Marin Crossroads: 18.79 miles; Distance from Sausalito: 22.81 miles
Elevation Gain on trail: 125 feet
Difficulty: It’s not about the road, it’s about the destination. With a mix of on-road riding and multi-use paths, this rolling eight miles runs from the end of the Marin Crossroads to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and is a short, but fun adventure.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – Coffee Run
Starting at the intersection of Magnolia Avenue, Route 15, and Bon Air Boulevard, just outside of Larkspur, continue along Magnolia Avenue toward Ross.
Follow Magnolia Avenue until you reach the stop sign at Kent Avenue. Make a left at the stop sign, then jog to the right onto Kent Avenue, continuing to follow Route 15.
 
Follow Kent Avenue through Ross and past the Ross Commons.
Kent Avenue and Route 15 dead end at Lagunitas Road.  Make a left onto Lagunitas Road, then make quick right onto Shady Lane.
You pick up Route 20 the rest of the way to San Anselmo.
Follow Shady Lane to Bolinas Avenue.
Make a right onto Bolinas Avenue, then make the first left at the stoplight onto San Anselmo Avenue (just like the black Lexus in the second picture below).
This road takes you through the heart of San Anselmo. Just past the next stop light is one of our favorite lunch spots, Comforts.
The Chinese Chicken Salad is a house favorite at Comforts, a popular place for locals and where you will see cyclists around who are post-ride or taking a break for lunch.
If you are not ready for lunch, but would like to have coffee and bond with other cyclists, continue down the street and Marin Coffee Roasters & Cafe, another hub for bike chatter.
With bike racks set up front you’ll see everything from restored 1960’s Schwinn comfort bikes, to mountain bikes to souped-up road bikes parked in front of this coffee house. Riders drink joe and swap stories about rides and where they plan to go next.  If you’ve never had it, we recommend trying the frozen green bubble tea  – a green tea frappuccino with tapioca balls (see below).
For more choices continue along San Anselmo Avenue through the rest of the town towards Fairfax, then make a left, following San Anselmo Avenue and Route 20, just past the 7-11.
Continue to follow along Route 20 and San Anselmo Avenue. San Anselmo Avenue makes a right just after Madrone Avenue.  Just after Redwood Road, there is a “Y” in the road, follow the “Y” to the right and continue along San Anselmo Avenue.  San Anselmo Boulevard turns into Lansdale Avenue.  The road ends at Pastoni Avenue, make a right and then a quick left onto Center Boulevard.
Along Center Boulevard then next place to stop for a coffee is the Java Hut.  This is not only a place to stop for coffee early in the morning, but also a great place to park if you want to start you ride from Fairfax.
Following along Center Boulevard, make a left at Bolinas Road.  On the corner is Fairfax Coffee Roastery.
The Coffee Roaster is at the corner of the route you take to get to Alpine Dam, Mt. Tam and Bolinas. These are the last set of restaurants to get some nourishment at before making some major climbs. (BE WARNED!)
While it may be difficult to make friends with fellow cyclists on hard climbs or fast descents, hanging out in places where cyclists congregate to eat and drink is one of the most enjoyable social aspects of cycling. Swapping stories over coffee or lunch is a great way to hear about rides you may want to take (or those you would not want to take). Socialization in cycling is something to keep the community growing in both numbers and camaraderie. Next time you are out on a ride, make sure to enjoy coffee with a fellow cyclist.

Trail: THE LARKSPUR CONNECTION


Connecting to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal is one of the easiest ways to return to San Francisco from a ride in Marin County. The route takes you from the end of the Marin Crossroads, through one of our favorite short descents we call “The Chase Scene,” through the town of Larkspur and back along another multi-use path to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 22.65 miles; Distance from Marin Crossroads: 8.22 miles; Distance from Sausalito: 12.24 miles
Elevation Gain on trail: 305 feet
Difficulty: It’s not about the road, it’s about the destination. With a mix of on-road riding and multi-use paths, this rolling eight miles runs from the end of the Marin Crossroads to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and is a short, but fun adventure.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – Larkspur Connection
The path to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal begins at the end of the Marin Crossroads.
At the light, cross East Blithedale Ave. and continue down the path along Route 5 until you reach the the first paved intersection, and make a right and continue to follow Route 5 down the path.
Continue along Lomita Drive past the hill where the local horses graze.
Lomita Drive turns left up a hill to the path that follows along US-101.
Keep to the left and follow Route 5 to Meadowsweet Drive.
Continue along Meadowsweet Drive as you cruise downhill.
At the “Y” in the road at the bottom of the hill, veer left and continue along Meadowsweet Drive.
At the next intersection, make a right toward the stop light, continuing along Route 5.
Continue through the light along Madera Boulevard.
Follow Madera Boulevard until you reach the stoplight at Womum Drive.
Just before Womum Drive, merge onto the sidewalk to cross Madera Boulevard at the crosswalk.
Follow Route 16 along the Larkspur Bike Path until it ends at Montecito Drive.
 An alternate to the Route 16 bike path is to take the path to the right after the bridge, Route 18, and follow Lucky Drive to the bridge over the channel as seen in The Sharks Fin.
Turn left at Montecito Drive, then make a right at the stop sign onto Tamalpias Drive.
Make another quick right at the light on to Magnolia Avenue and Route 15.
Follow Magnolia Avenue, Route 15 towards Ross, through downtown Larkspur.
Go through the light at the bottom of he hill and stay towards the center of the lane at the next light staying in the bike lane.
After the light, hop up on to the path on your right.
Follow the path until you reach Bon Air Road.  Once you reach Bon Air Road, this is the point where you would continue along Magnolia Avenue to reach San Anselmo, Fairfax and beyond.
Take a right on Bon Air Road, follow it over the bridge and make a right onto South Eliseo Drive.
Follow South Eliseo Drive, Route 20, just over a mile, up the hill and down to the bike path along the channel.
Follow the bike path until you reach the bridge…
Keep following Route 20 toward the Larkspur Ferry as it winds under the overpass and over the wooden bridge.
Then follow the path next to Sir Frances Drake Boulevard all the way to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.
Make a right just before the parking lot entrance.
Once you reach the Larkspur Ferry Terminal your journey is complete.  Check the ferry schedule for times, but most of the ferries go directly to the San Francisco Ferry Building, except for the 5:30 p.m. ferry on weekends which stops in Sausailto first.  If you are going to take this ferry, make sure to check out The Hat Trick to protect your bike from the heavy comfort bikes of the tourists.
Whether your goal is to have another way of getting back to San Francisco from deeper into Marin, or you just don’t feel like riding back to the city after cycling Paradise Loop, the Larkspur Ferry Terminal adds another option for your return home.

Trail: I’M SKY HIGH! — Marin Headlands


One of the most recognizable landmarks of San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge, especially the perspective from the Marin Headlands. The Marin Headlands themselves are beautiful sea cliffs with sweeping views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. The initial climb is a challenge and great training while the descent is extremely steep with sharp turns. It has the perfect mix of beauty and challenge. All of this excitement is accessible with a short ride just across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Three time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador riding the Marin Headlands                 PHOTO courtesy of Velodramatic.com and IamSpecialized.com

Try this ride out as a trainer for climbing or just as an introduction to cycling in the Bay Area like Alberto Contador did on October 4, 2011 with some friends from Mike’s Bikes.

This route is fully open again.  For more information regarding the recent improvements see Marin Headlands Closure Information for more details.

Distance: from San Francisco Ferry Building 15.18 miles

–Trail Starts at mile 7.7 of The Golden Gateway

–Trail Ends at mile 8.13 of The Golden Gateway — East Side Wee Fast Fun Route
Difficulty: The climbing is long and steep, but the initial descent is even steeper!

Climbing on Route: 925 feet (282 meters)

Descent on Route: 896 feet (273 meters)

Download your route sheet here: Directions – I’m Sky High

FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK click here for the full Geoped Map provided by g-map-pedometer.com

Elevation Map for the Route provided by MapMyRide.com

This route starts in the parking lot on the northwest side of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is at the end of the bike side of the Bridge.

The beginning of this path just under 8 miles from the start of the Golden Gateway. The climbing starts immediately out of the parking lot.

At the top of the stop sign, make a left and head up the hill.

The first part of this climb is he steepest and the toughest. Just keep going and if you need a break, take it to admire the view at the first rest area.

Us taking in the view at the first rest stop

Though less steep, the climbing continues up to the round about.

If you take the first exit of the round about, you will go down McCullough Road toward Bunker Road and back to Alexander Avenue towards US 101 through the tunnel.

Keep going around the round about, and take the second exit to continue up the Marin Headlands.

Keep climbing to get to the top, you have just under one mile to the top.

Take in the scenic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco as you are now higher than the bridge’s towers.

The tunnels signal Hawk Hill, the top of the Headlands, where you can take a break and take in the views, wait for or catch up with the rest of your group before turning around, or prepare for the hair-raising descent down the back of the Headlands.

Miko and Jon take in the views from the top of the Marin Headlands

The narrow, one way road is just the beginning of the challenges that face you on the descent down the backside of the Headlands.

The backside of Marin Headlands is not for the faint of heart, cause it’s all downhill from here!

“Hill” is an understatement, but the 18% grade is dead on! You build up speed quickly and two of the first three turns are 90+ degrees! Keep your descending class rules in mind: stay in the drops; just touch your brakes to regulate your speed, don’t hold them; inside knee up to pull your body into the turn; and always keep your eyes up and looking where you want to go because that’s where the bike is going to take you!

After that second right hand turn, the grade reduces but the speed stays high, so make sure to stay on your game.

Though the remaining turns are not as sharp and the grade not as steep, the rest of the way down is still wicked fast!

The descending turns to a short climb as you pass by the lookout point near the Upper Fisherman’s Parking Lot.

The Point Bonita Lighthouse is just up the road past the bunkers.

It is just a short climb before you reach the bunkers and Lower Fisherman’s Parking Lot.

And a couple of more twisties before the main part of your descent is complete.

Turn right at the next intersection to head back to US-101 along Fort Barry Road.  If you want to visit the Point Bonita Lighthouse, keep going straight, the road is two-way traffic again past the intersection.

Then another right at the stop sign.

Follow Fort Barry Road down the hill and around the corner, notice the tidal pool and Sausalito Beach to your left.

You will then pass Simmond’s Road and the Marin Headlands Hostel on your right. Keep following Fort Barry Road as it becomes Field Road here.

Follow Field Road through the next intersection as it merges with Bunker Road toward San Francisco.

You are now on the Marin Headlands return route.  It’s a slight climb back out to Alexander Avenue towards US-101 from here.

At McCullough Road you can climb back up the Headlands and descend the front side towards the Golden Gate Bridge, or you can keep along Field Road towards Alexander Avenue.

A bit farther down the road is the Bunker Road Tunnel.  The tunnel is signal controlled by a stop light.

When the light turns green, head on through.

At the beginning of the tunnel there is a button to signal to the on-coming cars a biker is in the tunnel.

The tunnel is pretty dark, but the main obstacles are the water, mud and slime covering the bike lane.  It’s all downhill, but your tires are never totally planted on the road, so be careful going through here.

Once you exit the tunnel, you are just about to the intersection with Alexander Avenue.

If you haven’t gotten your fill of the climbing or descending yet, you can always head back up Alexander Avenue to the Golden Gate Bridge and the beginning of the Marin Headlands to do it all over again by taking the fork to the right.

Or if you are ready to head on to other adventures, take the fork to the left and rejoin the Golden Gateway Trail for the descent to Sausalito.

The Marin Headlands is a challenging ascent and with an absolutely spectacular and breathtaking descent. This is a great route to work on both your ascending and descending skills when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, or don’t want to travel too far from the city. Keep hydrated on the way up and your head up on the way down!

Enjoy!

Trail: THREE AMIGOS! — Return from Muir Beach to Sausalito Along Pacific Coast Highway


WARNING: THIS TRAIL IS CLOSED UNTIL AT LEAST MARCH 2015!

Descents are the reward after climbing to the top of Sequoia Valley Road or Panoramic Highway. The former takes you on a beautiful journey through Muir Woods, the latter takes you on a magnificent 4 mile descent to Stinson Beach. While Stinson Beach requires a series of climbs to make your way along the Pacific Coast Highway to Muir Beach, the second half of the route from Muir Woods is relatively flat.  These two routes intersect at the Pelican Inn along CA-1.  The pattern of a tough climb being rewarded by a great descent is remains unbroken in The Three Amigos.  The return begins with a tough narrow climb along CA-1 with traffic nipping at your heals.  If you can time the cars just right, you will experience a fantastic, high-speed return back to the Marin Crossroads.  Each path that leads to this return is its own unique adventure. That adventure continues on in The Three Amigos’ journey to Sausalito.

Distance: from San Francisco Ferry Building 35.11 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 16.68 miles; from Somewhere Over the Rainbow 12.60 miles; from Boom Boom Pow 8.49 miles

Download your Ride to Muir Woods and Return to Sausalito Route Sheet here: Directions – Bay to Muir Woods to Ferry

Distance from San Francisco 42.24 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 27.81 miles; from Somewhere Over the Rainbow 25.73 miles; from A Panoramic View 19.24 miles; from Roller Coaster Ride 15.09 miles; from Dog Days Are Over 8.49 miles

Download your Ride to Stinson Beach and Return to Sausalito Route Sheet here: Directions – Bay to Beach to Ferry

Difficulty: A tough climb on a narrow road with no shoulder followed by a fast and fun descent that can be interrupted by “Sunday Drivers”
Elevation Gain on Route: 623 feet (190 meters)

Descent on Route: 676 feet (206 meters)

Download your route sheet solely for Three Amigos here: Directions – Three Amigos

FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK click here for the full Geoped Map provided by g-map-pedometer.com

Elevation Map for the Route provided by MapMyRide.com

From the Pelican Inn, there is one last hill to conquer before the exciting descent and return to the Marin Crossroads and Sausalito.

Miko stands atop the last hill between you and Sausalito from Muir Beach

Continue heading south on CA-1 from the intersection with Pacific Way.

Head south along CA-1 past Pacific Way

Hopefully the drivers you encounter along the way heed this sign

The beginning of the climb is hidden around the first corner.

Ketlon takes point and Miko readies herself for the tough climb ahead

THE WORK:

Round the first bend and you get a preview of you life for the next 2.2 miles: switchback, blind corner, switchback, blind corner…

Often the cars pass you closely on this shoulderless, narrow road.

Other times, you get a brief distraction from the climbing.

As the Ferrari F430 passed by we got a brief reprieve from the climbing, if only in our minds

With steep gradients, the standing climb is your friend on this hill.

Though only sometimes necessary, passing other bikers on the narrow road requires, speed, control and a bit of luck to get a long enough break in the traffic.

Poised in the standing position, Kelton overtakes a slower mountain biker during a brief break in the traffic.

The standing climb can also be used to work different muscles to not tire your legs too quickly.

Although the scenery doesn’t change much as you continue around the next corner, make sure to enjoy the views around you.

A small shoulder is present in some areas of the climb.

As you keep climbing you can eventually see the top of the climb.

The top of the climb is at the base of the pine trees in the upper right side of this picture.

As the distance to the top gets shorter, a good standing climb helps Kelton keep pushing his way to the top.

Kelton dances in the saddle

The base of the pine trees (center) signifies the top of the climb is getting near.

Just a few more stints of out of the saddle climbing and you’re almost there.

Turn the corner and you can almost see the definition of the trees.

Then you realize you still have a few more turns to go.

Although closer, you still have a few more switchbacks to climb before the reach the top.

The road starts to reduce in gradient as you get closer to the top, keep up the RPMs and you will start to gain speed.

As the top nears, these two road signs indicate the last two switchbacks before the top.

At the sight of the last corner the blood rushes back to your legs.

Rounding the last turn, a spot to rest is just a few hundred feet away.

Kelton approaches the rest area after burning up the hill.

Once at the top, you realize the amount of traffic passing you was not just your imagination.

The top is a great spot to rest for the other members of the party still climbing.

Miko makes it into the resting area after a personal best time up the hill.

Timing is everything in this next portion of the ride. The relatively flat section between the resting area and the intersection with Panoramic Highway gives you a bit of a chance to get ready for the downhill portion of the journey. If timed well, the journey is fast and exciting. If timed poorly, you’ll catch a car quickly and be on your breaks the rest of the way to the bottom.

Watch the cars rounding the visible corners, when no other cars are in sight, that’s your queue to go!

Miko watches carefully for a clear path.

After leaving the rest area, you have a quick jaunt through the woods on a slight decline.

 

Which leads you past the intersection of Panoramic Highway and CA-1 and to…

How long do other bikers last in front of Miko on a downhill?

The downhill section of this ride has a wide assortment of twists, turns and straightaways.

Not only can cars be an obstacle, wildlife can be as well…notice deer, stage right.

The rolling, twisting road make for incredible fun if you can manage to get a section without cars!
After you exit the woods you have a few more turns to go before you reach the intersection of Shoreline Highway (CA-1) and Almonte Boulevard.
Though we were able to catch the entire downhill without running into any cars, be mindful, the “Sunday Drivers” are out in force every day of the week on this section and can ruin your descent.  Have fun, but be mindful of the cars.
Once you reach the intersection of Shoreline Highway and Almonte Boulevard, make a right at the light and follow Shoreline Highway until you reach the on-ramp for US-101.
At US-101, check for cars and head to the middle lane, you’ll be going straight through the next two lights and under the overpass.
At the other side of the overpass, Marin Crossroads is on your left.  Check for cars again and get over in the left turn lane.  When clear, cross over to the Marin County Bike Path.
Follow the bike path to its end at Mike’s Bikes.
Get in the turn lane and wait for the light to turn green, then cross over to Bridgeway.
Follow Bridgeway through this section of Sausalito.
Through the stop lights.
 And up over the hill towards Fred’s Coffee Shop.
Then through the next pair of stop lights.
After the second light, the lanes will split at the Y-intersection ahead, go to the left. Check the lane and position yourself to merge into the upcoming bike lane next to the left lane.
Continue straight on Bridgeway and past A Bicycle Odyssey and through the next light.
Then just a another half-mile to the light in front of Bacchus & Venus.
Watch for traffic and get in the turn lane to make a left into the ferry terminal.
Make a right into the parking lot and head towards to boat.
Then get in line for the boat back to San Francisco.
Once on the boat enjoy a drink and the views of Alcatraz on your way back to San Francisco. Make sure to check out The Hat Trick to safely park your bike on the boat.
The return from Muir Beach is a tough climb at the end of a long ride, but once you are to the top, the rest of the way to Sausalito is literally downhill from there! If you do take the ferry home, make sure to listen to the Ferry Boss and enjoy the ride home!