MTB Trail: Angel Island – The Jewel of the Bay


photo 1-3

Everyone that comes to San Francisco knows the most famous island in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, but only a few know about the Jewel of the Bay, Angel Island.

Angel Island State Park, the largest island in the San Francisco Bay offers some of the best views of the surrounding Bay Area.  It has been a cattle farm, a military barracks, a quarantine station, immigration station and now a nature conservatory.

This was our first endeavor in mountain biking and makes a great introduction for everyone.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 8.26.50 PM

Distance: 9.1 mile (one loop around the top and bottom trails)

Elevation Gain: 1017 feet (310 m)

image image

Difficulty: Although you can ride your road bike along the lower paved path, the real fun comes when you hit the trails.  This is a great beginner’s trail and gives you an amazing introduction to mountain biking without too much difficulty.

Getting to Angel Island

There are two ways to get to Angel Island.  The easiest way to get there is to take the Blue & Gold Ferry from Pier 41.  This ferry leaves at 9:45 am every day.  You can buy tickets at the box office at Pier 41 or onlineScreen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.26.30 PM Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.26.48 PM

The second way to get to Angel Island is to take the Angel Island Ferry from Tiburon.  This ferry runs at a less regular schedule which varies throughout the year.

You can return to San Francisco either by taking the Blue & Gold Ferry directly back, or your can return to Tiburon, and return on a later ferry back from Tiburon.

When you arrive at Angel Island, you dock at Ayala Cove. This route is a set of loops, so you begin and end at Ayala Cove. This is the dock where you catch the ferry to both Tiburon and San Francisco.

GOPR0245-2

From Ayala Cove, follow the trail to the Visitor’s Center. Bikes are not allowed on the pavement for a few hundred feet, so make a left onto the trial and follow it to the lower, paved route around the island.

GOPR0246-2

GOPR0246-4

GOPR0246-7

GOPR0246-10

GOPR0247-5

Approximately a mile and a half down the path, you encounter the trail to Camp Reynolds. Camp Reynolds includes the brick barracks you see from Sausalito and the ferry.

GOPR0247-11

This is an unpaved trail leads down to the Camp and the water’s edge if you turn right at the fork. At the Camp, you can experience a civil war cannon shot around 1 pm each day.

We prefer to continue along the path and turn left at the fork. This unpaved trail leads back to the main loop shortly ahead.

GOPR0247-13

Back on the path, once you crest the hill you get amazing sweeping views of San Francisco from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge.  Make sure to stop and take a few pictures, this is really one of the best spots on the island.

GOPR0250

GOPR0250-1

Continuing along the path, you can get your next round of trail riding on your way up to Battery Drew.  To get there, take the left fork and head up the hill.

GOPR0250-3

Keep climbing and you’ll get some more great views.

GOPR0250-6

Your next taste of an off-raod downhill is next up.  Its got some loose gravel, some dirt and an nice fast slope.

GOPR0250-8

A short ride back along the the path and your entrance to the upper off-road trail is on the left.

GOPR0250-10

The entrance is a steep path with loose rock, so get a head of steam and power your way to the top, where you’ll immediately turn right.

GOPR0250-11

GOPR0262-11

Follow the upper path as it rolls along with eastern shore of the island with many of the island’s buildings below.

GOPR0262-13

About halfway along the eastern side, the path makes a sharp left up the hill, away from the picnic area.

GOPR0262-19

Climb past the water housing area, and watch for deer here. Just past then fence the path takes another left.

GOPR0262-22

Continue along the gently rolling path and enjoy the gorgeous scenery as you traverse the northern side with Tiburon across the channel.

GOPR0262-31

As you approach the western side of the island, you’ll see Sausalito and the Golden Gate Bridge.

GOPR0262-33

The path rolls downhill as it leads you back to the return to the lower main road.

GOPR0263-9GOPR0263-17

You can ride the upper path again if you are up for it, or you can turn right and go back to complete the lower path.

When you are ready to head back to the lower path, turn right down the hill and continue straight at the intersection. You’ll get more sweeping views of San Francisco from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge.

GOPR0263-19GOPR0263-23GOPR0251-2

A short way down the path is the best paved downhill of the day. It’s a quick descent with a curve to the left at the bottom where the road forks.

GOPR0251-5GOPR0251-6

Quarry Point is down the road on the right. You’ll see housing barracks on the left of the main path and a dock lower down the hill to the right. This part of the island was a rock quarry from 1850 through 1922 and used to construction buildings from Alcatraz to Fort Point and even the California Bank building in the Financial District of San Francisco.

GOPR0251-7

Further along the path you’ll pass by the Immigration Station. You can go for a stroll or take a tour of the Immigration Station. This immigration station was in use from 1910 thought 1940.

GOPR0251-9

The rest of the route is another 1.5 miles of rolling path back to Ayala Cove. Watch for the entrance back to the bike route, it is a sharp right after a quick downhill.

GOPR0251-13

If you miss the turn, no big, just continue on and turn around.

GOPR0251-15

Follow the path and return back to the docks at Ayala Cove where you can pick up a ride back to Tiburon or San Francisco.

GOPR0251-17GOPR0251-18GOPR0251-20GOPR0251-21

After a day of adventure on Angel Island, you really get a sense of how much fun mountain biking can be. While most of the route is pretty tame, there is some loose terrain and quick descents that give you a sense of trail riding.

While accessing this park is a bit more complicated than just hopping in your car, it is totally worth while. The views, the experience and the fun you will have both on the island and on the boat to the island are memories waiting to be made.

 

Muir Beach / Muir Woods Closure Information – December 2014 – March 2015


Rainstorms on December 11, 2014 caused a section of CA-1 (SR-1) to collapse between Muir Beach and Panoramic Drive.

Muir Beach Closure Muir Beach Closure Pic

This section of road is featured in our trail and video “The Three Amigos“.

As this route of return is no longer available, this closure affects the ride back to Sausalito from Muir Woods and Stinson Beach.

From Muir Woods, you have the option of climbing back up Muir Woods Road or heading to Stinson Beach and climbing back via Panoramic Highway, the opposite direction of our Dog Days trail.

Your other options are to continue North on CA-1 and 1) attempt the climb up Fairfax Bolinas Road to West Ridgecrest and return via the latter half of Alpine Damn Loop

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 8.03.14 PM

Or 2) go toward Point Reyes and return via Sir Francis Drake Blvd to Fairfax.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 8.05.59 PM

Construction is expected to continue through March 2015. See 511.org for the most up-to-date information on the closure and construction.

At this time we do not advise going to Muir Woods or Stinson Beach unless you are a very strong climber or are prepared for a 60+ mile ride.

TRAIL: Half-Moon Bay – From the Surf to the Top of the Mountains


GOPR0098-5
When you hear Half Moon Bay, most people think about surfing and the monster 50 foot waves at Mavericks. Half Moon Bay has more natural beauty than just the surf, it also has the Costal Range and amazing biking. The Half Moon Bay Backroads features amazing views of the Pacific while cycling along CA-1 and winding backroads with very few cars as you wind your way back.

Distance: 25.94 miles round-trip

Elevation Gain: 1240 feet (378 meters)

Difficulty: The ride features a ride along the Pacific Coast Highway south of Half Moon Bay and then makes two tough climbs on your way back to Half Moon Bay. The reward for your climbing is a couple of great descents and amazing views of the Pacific.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – Half Moon Bay
Map - Halfmoon Bay Backroads
Elevation - Half Moon Bay Backroads
The route starts at the Mac Dutra Park in Half Moon Bay at the intersection of Main Street and Kelly Street. This is your next to last stop for a restroom, so go if you gotta.
Follow Main Street south (away from CA-92) through Half Moon Bay until you reach the end of the road across from the Fire Station and make a right toward CA-1.
GOPR0093 GOPR0093-3 GOPR0093-4
Cross CA-1 and make a left toward Santa Cruz.
GOPR0093-6
Continue to follow CA-1 south along the rolling hills.
GOPR0093-7
You will pass by Cameron’s Pub and Inn just south of Half Moon Bay. This is a place to grab some fish and chips and a beer.
GOPR0093-12 GOPR0093-14 GOPR0093-15
You will pass by Verde Road, which is one of the roads you will take on the way back to Half Moon Bay.
GOPR0093-19
Admire the view of the sea and the mountains as you continue following CA-1.
GOPR0094-2
You will see Verde Road again paralleling CA-1.
GOPR0094-5 GOPR0094-7
Watch for the last hill along CA-1, your left turn is at the bottom of the fast descent.
GOPR0094-11
You can see your left turn onto Tunitas Creek Road at the bottom of the descent.
GOPR0094-13
And here’s your turn…
GOPR0094-15
Just watch for cars in front and behind you as you make your turn.
GOPR0094-17 GOPR0094-18
Welcome to the Half Moon Bay Backroads.
GOPR0094-21
GOPR0095-2 GOPR0095-4
At the “T”, make a right and continue along Tunitas Creek Road.
GOPR0095-5 GOPR0095-8
GOPR0095-15
You will start to climb and enter the redwoods as your approach your next turn.
GOPR0095-21
Make a left on to Lobitos Creek Road and get ready for the first big climb.
GOPR0095-22
GOPR0095-23 GOPR0095-24 GOPR0096-1
Continue climbing for another half mile or so and then you’ll reach a flat.
GOPR0096-2 GOPR0096-5 GOPR0096-9
Over the next ridge is a pond and a quick, steep incline just before the wicked descent.
GOPR0096-12 GOPR0096-13
And then comes the very fast, narrow descent.
GOPR0096-15 GOPR0096-16
Just keep your eyes open for any cars or other bicyclists climbing in the opposite direction.
GOPR0096-19 GOPR0096-21
The road you take back towards Half Moon Bay is visible on the descent.
GOPR0096-22
The left turn at the bottom of the run is very sharp, so make sure to control your speed into the corner.
GOPR0096-23
The ride starts a slight climb again as the road makes its way toward Verde Road. You’ll see the descent you just conquered on your left.
GOPR0096-25 GOPR0096-30
As you pick up speed, watch for cars as you merge with Verde Road.
GOPR0096-31
Just a short distance down Verde Road you’ll start to parallel CA-1 on your left just after the stop sign.
GOPR0096-34
Continue along Verde Road as it rises and falls until you get to Purisima Creek Road at the next stop sign.
GOPR0096-38 GOPR0096-40
Make a right onto Purisima Creek Road and head east.
GO010096
Continue along Purisima Creek Road through the valley until the road ends at Purisima Creek Open Reserve.
GOPR0097-5 GOPR0097-7 GOPR0098-1
At the Open Reserve parking lot, make a left onto Higgins Canyon Road over the bridge and start climbing.
GOPR0098-2 GOPR0098-4
Look to your left and you will see Purisima Creek Road in the valley below.
GOPR0098-5
Keep climbing and you will eventually see the ridge line in the distance.
GOPR0098-6 GOPR0098-7 GOPR0098-9
Once you reach the ridge line, get ready for a quick and windy descent!
GOPR0098-12 GOPR0098-15
Quick corners, narrow roads and opposing traffic make this fun, but also keep to your side of the road.
GOPR0098-16 GOPR0098-18 GOPR0098-19
Once you reach the bottom of the descent, keep pedaling over the remaining rolling hills until you reach the flat farmlands.
GOPR0098-24 GOPR0098-25 GOPR0098-28
Just another couple of miles along the flats and you’ll be back to Half Moon Bay.
GOPR0098-30 GOPR0098-31
Make a right Main Street, just past the fire station heading back into downtown.
GOPR0098-32 GOPR0098-33 GOPR0098-34
Once you’re back in Half Moon Bay, pedal back up Main Street to complete your ride. Once you’ve packed back up, it’s time for a bite to eat. Our suggestion is to grab a crab melt sandwich on your way up CA-1 at Nick’s Restaurant on Rockaway Beach in Pacifica.
This first ride in Half Moon Bay is a great way to get acquainted with all of the different places you can explore in San Mateo County riding from the Pacific Ocean through the redwoods and beyond.

Trail: CHINA CAMP: San Rafael to San Pablo Bay


China Camp State Park is a short ride from San Rafael and is home to some of the area’s best beginner mountain biking along with tons of wildlife and gorgeous views of the San Pablo Bay. If road biking is more your thing, then China Camp offers you a great ride around the coast of the San Pablo Bay that can be added on to a ride, or can just be a destination for the day.

Distance from The Short Cut: 8.4 miles (16.8 miles round-trip); Larkspur Ferry Terminal and Larkspur Connection: 10.70 miles; Marin Crossroads: 18.92 miles; Distance from Sausalito: 22.94 miles; Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 32.75 miles.

Elevation Gain on trail: 312 feet (624 feet round trip)

Difficulty: The ride features an urban ride through San Rafael which gives way to rolling hills and scenic views of San Pablo Bay, out far enough to make it a full day ride, but not so hard to get to a tourist couldn’t make it.
-Elevation Map for the Route provided by MapMyRide.com
Starting at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Second Street in San Rafael, the end of The Short Cut or partially through Let’s Grab a Beer, continue north along Lincoln Ave. Basically, follow Lincoln Ave. across Second St., or with the heavy traffic on Second St. if you are coming from downtown San Rafael (the faster route detailed in Let’s Grab a Beer), the safer option is to make a right onto Lincoln Ave. from Second St. and do a U-Turn on Lincoln Ave. and then cross Second St.
Follow Lincoln Ave. to Fourth Street (the route for the slower option detailed in Let’s Grab a Beer), then make a right onto Fourth Street, or continue to go straight if you are coming from Fourth St.
Follow Fourth St. as it crosses over the railroad tracks and under US-101.
Continue to follow Fourth St. until you reach Union St. Make a right at Union St.
Follow Union St. and make a left onto Third St. at the light.
Follow Third St. through San Rafael as it leaves the city and climbs to the rolling hills toward San Rafael Bay. Third Street becomes Point San Pedro Rd. This is Bike Route 24.
Continue to follow Route 24 as it passes by San Rafael Bay with views of the McNear Brickyard along the way.
Just a bit further up the road is McNears Beach. McNears Beach has an outdoor pool, tennis courts, fishing and walking trails.
The hill leading up to and past McNears Beach is a tough climb ranging from 7 to 11%. Fortunately, it’s a short hill, so just power through it and you’ll almost be to China Camp.
After the climb, you get a nice descent to gain some speed as you enter China Camp.
At the entrance to China Camp Route 24 ends and Route 26 begins. Continue through the next 3.5 miles of rolling hills through China Camp. Click here for a map of China Camp.
The first section of China Camp is a bit of a climb as you go by the entrance to the Shoreline Trail and mountain bike paths on your left.
Your first descent takes you past China Camp Point as you round the sweeping left hand curve which leads to Five Pines Point.
Rounding Five Pines Point takes you on a descent with views of San Pablo Bay.
You’ll pass the Ranger Station on your right and then the road levels out for a short stint before climbing up to Weber Point where you can stop and take a short break.
The hills keep coming as you make another climb past Buckeye Point and descend through a couple of “S” curves to the next section of flats and the first section of marshlands.
Continue past Chicken Coop Hill and another entrance to the Skyline Trail will be on your left.
You’ll then pass by Bullet Hill with the Bullet Hill Trail entrance on your left and marshlands on your right.
Another quick rolling hill takes you past Turtle Back Hill with another trail entrance on either side of the road.
The flats after the descent from Turtle Back Hill takes you past the campground entrance on your left.
Once you past the campground entrance, you are just about out of the China Camp. Another mile and a half of flats brings you up to the boat launch area, which is where we typically turn around.
At this point, you have two options for returning back to San Rafael. The first is to turn around and take the same route back to San Rafael.
The second option is to continue along North San Pedro Rd. under US 101, make a left at Los Ranchitos Rd. and Los Ranchitos until it become Lincoln Ave. Continue along Lincoln Ave. until you cross Second St. in San Rafael and then make a right onto Irwin St. You will then meet up with Let’s Grab a Beer or The Short Cut and head back to Larkspur.
We typically turn around and take the scenic route through China Camp back to Larkspur. It’s a nice ride with a lot less traffic. If you decide to turn around as well, follow the road and once you get to San Rafael, continue on Third Street until you reach Lincoln Avenue, then make a left on Lincoln Ave. Follow Lincoln Ace. as described above and you’ll be back to Larkspur in no time.
No matter if you are looking to add some extra miles, or have just never been past San Rafael, China Camp is a great place to cycle.
Happy Thanksgiving!