Trail: BOOM BOOM POW! — Descent into Muir Woods


Dream descents are made of open roads, tight corners and beautiful views. Timed correctly, the descent into Muir Woods has all three. Descending from the top of Sequoia Valley Road down Muir Woods Road is an amazing journey. Though not as long as the Stinson Beach descent, Muir Woods is a good way to brush up your descending skills with a long series of technical twists and turns along the 1.5 mile descent. Once at the bottom, there is a rush of endorphins from the wild ride that will carry you the rest of the way to Muir Beach for your return up CA-1.

Distance: from San Francisco Ferry Building 26.62 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 8.19 miles; from Somewhere Over the Rainbow 4.11 miles

Difficulty: Absolutely Wee Fast Fun!!
Descent on Route: 695 feet (212 meters)

Download your route sheet here: Directions – Boom Boom Pow

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

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

The descent into Muir Woods starts at the top of Sequoia Valley Road and the end of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  This is Marin County Bike Route 6.

Miko at the entrance to Muir Woods, Panoramic Highway and Muir Woods Drive

From the top of Sequoia Valley Road, cross Panoramic Highway onto Muir Woods Road.

Intersection of Sequoia Valley Road, Panoramic Highway and Muir Wood Road

The descending starts right away.

Entrance to Muir Woods

View from the Top

Round the first corner and the next corner looms in the distance as you are already on picking up speed.

Round the next corner and the snaking road ahead gives you a visualization of the ride you are in for over the next mile and a half.

The road snakes below as you further descend into Muir Woods

This technical descent is all about control in and out of the numerous corners all the way down the side of the mountain.  The mental checklist for cornering running through your mind constantly, “find the line, brake before the turn, inside knee up and out, release the brakes so you don’t lock or slide, initiate the turn, counterstear, hit the apex, accelerate out” and half a second later it starts all over again!

Miko executes perfect cornering technique as she leans and counterstears while hitting the apex of one corner and has her head up looking at her path through the next.

After the first relentless set of corners, you get a brief reprieve to catch your breath and can gain some speed.

And then it’s back to high-speed cornering.

Keep your eyes up to watch for the corners, random pedestrians and cars that are much, much slower than you!

Cars on this road tend to be driven by tourists who can go as slow as 10 mph.

If you get frustrated, you can pull over and give the car a couple of minutes to get ahead of you and start your descent again. No worries if you stop, the grade is steep enough you will pick up speed quickly and be back leaning into the next corner with ease.

Under the canopy, the road starts to degrade and the rough surface makes the descent even more challenging.

Just a few corners left when you see the sign pictured above.

You will then come upon a relatively flat straightaway and the last big turn at the ranger station.

After you round the corner you’ll see the entrance to Muir Woods straight ahead.

And you might even see the car you gave a two-minute head start to at the end of the descent.

Welcome to Muir Woods

Take a break if you need it.  Bathrooms are at the end of the parking lot.  The descent is over, but there’s still another 2.5 miles until the intersection with CA-1 and Muir Beach.

From the entrance, head to the right.

View from the entrance to Muir Woods

The next part of the journey is relatively flat with a slight downward gradient.  Follow the road and you will pass cars parked along the road.

Muir Woods is not only a great descent for cyclists, but it’s also a favorite spot for hikers.  Many trailheads merge near the bottom of the descent.

Not long after leaving the Muir Woods entrance, you will enter Mt. Tamalpias State Park.

Just over a mile from the base of the descent you will come upon a couple of houses.

Then the last mile and a half to CA-1, the trees open up into a valley.

The stop sign indicates you have reached the end of Muir Woods Road and Bike Route 6.  This is where The Dog Days Are Over and Boom Boom Pow intersect.

Muir Beach and CA-1 South toward Sausalito and San Francisco is straight ahead, while CA-1 North toward Stinson Beach is to the right.

Go straight at the stop sign toward San Francisco and pass by the Pelican Inn.

The Pelican Inn is on your right, just before Pacific Way.

The intersection of CA-1 and Pacific Way in Muir Beach is the end of this journey, but the starting point of the trail that returns you from both Muir Woods and Stinson Beach back to Sausalito.

Whether this is your first time on a technical descent or you are brushing up from a long off-season, Muir Woods is fun and challenging. Though on every bike tourist’s map, you don’t see too many there. The rewards of Muir Woods are not only in the amazing ride and spectacular views, but also in the stories you share with your friends from the ride.

WeLikeToBike.com would like to welcome our friend Kelton to our rides!  You have seen him in some of the pictures above, stay tuned for him to take the spotlight as one of our featured stunt people in the video for the return to Sausalito!

Miko and Kelton at the top of Marin Headlands

Kelton and Jon taking a break at the top of Marin Headlands

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Trail: THE SHARK’S FIN — Paradise Loop — Tiburon to Larkspur


At the end of The Jaws of Life you have a few choices, follow Paradise Drive to Corte Madera and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, wait for the ferry in Tiburon or return to Sausalito.  “Get A Move On” is a glimpse of what you can expect to see on your ride along The Shark’s Fin – popularly known as ‘Paradise Loop’.

Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail) 33.76 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 19.33 miles; from Tiburon (see The Jaws of Life) 11.55 miles

Difficulty: Those comfort bikes are not longer so comfortable after the 20+ mile ride to Tiburon, so this route is typically only for Bay Area bikers and a good workout with the initial climb and the constant rolling hills.

Climbing on Route: 308 feet (94 meters)

Download your route sheet here: Directions – Shark’s Fin

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

It is just over eight miles from Tiburon to the Corte Madera Bike Path, but being able to gauge how far you’ve ridden along the Shark’s Fin and how far you have to go is key when attempting to catch the Larkspur Ferry on the weekends.  Below are the intersections along Paradise Drive as you ride from Tiburon to Larkspur.

Print out a copy to carry along for the ride.

At the intersection of Wornum Drive, cross Redwood Highway and under the US-101 overpass until you reach the intersection with Tamal Vista Boulevard.

Cross the street and you will be on Bike Route 16, the Larkspur-Corte Madera Bike Path.  You will recognize Mount Tamalpais in the background.

Follow the Route 16 over the bridge and make a right onto Route 18 at the path just over the bridge.

Follow the path to Lucky Drive, where Route 18 makes a right.


Follow Lucky Drive until you reach the “Bike Boneyard”.

If you deposit $0.05 with the Tin Man, he will let you know to keep going past the end of the culdesac and up the path to the bridge over the river.

Don’t worry, the pavement doesn’t end for bikes, it keeps going over along the bike path over the bridge. At the end of the bridge, make a hard, almost 180 degree, left-hand-turn and keep on Route 18.

At the end of the path, make a left on to Route 20 towards the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

Follow Route 20 under the bridge.

Under the bridge, you’ll follow Route 20 over the wooden bridge.

At the end of the bridge, make a right towards the ferry terminal.

A little ways down the path you’ll see the bike turn in for the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, make a right and follow the path to the terminal ticket booth.

Once at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, wait on the next ferry back to the San Francisco Ferry Building.  The 5:30p.m. ferry on weekends goes through Sausalito, so make sure you check out our article on the Hat Trick.

After completing the Shark’s Fin, relax and enjoy an adult beverage on the ferry ride back to San Francisco. Whether your decide to go back to San Francisco or keep going beyond Larkspur, have a great ride and a wonderful ride back to San Francisco.

Trail: THE JAWS OF LIFE – Tiburon


Distance: from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 22.21 miles, from Marin Crossroads: 7.78 miles
Difficulty: Enough to give you saddle sores but not enough to break a tourist on a comfort bike.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – The Jaws of Life
FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK click here for the full Geoped Map provided by g-map-pedometer.com.
From Marin Crossroads: 
There are two routes to Tiburon: Strawberry & The Quick Fix.  This is decision-time, do you have time to go the scenic route?  Or are you cutting it close to the last ferry?  If you have the time, take the Strawberry route! It is worth the time!
SCENIC ROUTE: Strawberry Fields of Heaven
 
If you make the decision to go the scenic route through Strawberry, you will make a right off of the bike path and follow Route 8 over a bridge and onto Hamilton Drive.
All you have to do in this section is stay on Hamilton Drive until it dead ends at Redwood Highway Frontage Rd, a road running parallel to US-101, at the stop sign pictured below. At the stop sign, make a right and head towards the water.
This path will wind you once again under a US-101 bridge and then back in the opposite direction.  Just watch the signs for Route 8 as you go along the road.
 
Emerging from the underpass you will reach a strip of gas stations Keep following the road here until you see the 7-Eleven.
 
Pay attention for the Route 8 sign, this will be at the corner of Seminary Drive.
Make a right on Seminary Drive and you have entered the town of Strawberry!
Though you will keep following Seminary Drive, this gets a bit confusing at the first intersection because instead of going straight, you will make a right.
 
Once you are into Strawberry, you will see marsh lands to your right, and then just up the road, you will see the bay with the US-101 bridge off in the distance.
After passing the Golden Gate Baptist Seminary on the left (yep, there is actually a seminary on Seminary Road, go figure) you will then wind around and find yourself with San Francisco in the distant foreground and Sausalito marina to your right.
This is one of the most beautiful parts of the ride to Tiburon, so take it in and take plenty of pictures!  As you can see, we did!
The Undertow Hill
 

Following the road will lead you to a hill that looks deceptively short and easy. It encourages you to charge right up only to suck you in. Fatigue at this point in the ride only makes this worse. However the lack of traffic make it manageable if you need to take it slow and you have a nice downhill ahead of you.

Once you have crested this hill, there will be a fork in the road, head to the left, this will take you towards tennis courts and Strawberry drive.

After a few more hills you will reach a point where the road becomes one lane in either direction.  Make sure to stay to the right and go in the same direction as the car traffic.

The next decision comes toward the end of Strawberry Drive, right after the road comes back together.  At that point, you will see a very inviting SuperFast downhill!

If you choose to go this way, be warned, you will have to apply your brakes quite soon after you reach the bottom because the path you take around the small peninsula is very narrow and tends to have joggers and dog walkers along it.

f you do choose SuperFast Downhill, just keep following the path until you get to the parking lot, there just head toward the 76 gas station and make a right on Greenwood Cove Drive.

 

If you chose to forego SuperFast downhill and stick with Strawberry Drive, you will go down Strawberry Drive and then intersect Tiburon Boulevard at the stop light.

At Tiburon Boulevard, make a right and enjoy the downhill section of this trip. At the next light, make a right at the 76 gas station onto Greenwood Cove Drive.

I’ll finish the route on the other side of Option 2.

OPTION 2: The Quick Fix 

If you are running a little short on time and you choose to stay on Route 5, then about half a mile from the Route 8 intersection you will come up on East Blithedale Avenue and a stop light.

 

The signs for the bike paths are a bit confusing, but just enter the road in the bike lane and follow East Blithedale Boulevard.

Be careful along this route as there are a few different intersections where cars will either be exiting the road onto a highway ramp, or just exiting the highway onto the road.  Keep following the road as it goes over US-101.  Once you have passed all of the intersections around the US-101 overpass, the rest of the ride is less dicey.

Keep straight on Tiburon Boulevard and you will intersect Strawberry Drive at a light.  At the next light, make a right at the 76 gas station (Greenwood Cove Drive), the bike path sign signals Route 10 to the right, and the rest of the route is the same for everyone (pictured above).

Options Merge:

Following Greenwood Cove Drive you will encounter another uphill area before gliding down to the end of the court.

To the left side of the court is an entryway for a path over to a parking lot.

This lot leads to Route 17 and the Tiburon bike path.  When you first enter the bike path to the right of the parking lot, you’ll see the path fork to the left and to the right.  If you head to the right, you better have a mountain bike! This is a gravel path that leads along the shoreline.

Your better option is to veer to the left and up the next hill.  Once up the hill you will see the bike path and, more than likely, a whole lot of pedestrians! Just take it easy through this section and if you have a bell, use it!

Follow this nice and easy path all along the shoreline.  Take in the beautiful scenery, take some pictures and just enjoy how much fun bike riding in this area can be!

 

The path will cross a road at a stoplight, so you’ll have to watch for cars coming around the bend.  Cross the road and the path continues for a little long, or if you’re confident enough, go ahead and get back onto Tiburon Boulevard, the rest of us will be joining you soon.

If you stayed on the path, just keep going along the path.  Eventually, you’ll make it to another intersection where you’ll have to make sure to stay to the right for the short split and just head down the path.

 

Just a bit down the way the path will end and you’ll have to merge back on to Tiburon Boulevard.  Once you’re back on the road, it’s just a straight shot to the end of this run. No worries, as a bike lane is provided the whole way to the ferry terminal.

 

From the Ferry Terminal at the round-a-bout, you have a great view of Angel Island, San Francisco and the marina.  Once you reach the ferry terminal, park your bike and enjoy one of the local restaurants before the ferry ride back to Pier 41.

Our favorite restaurant is Sam’s Anchor Cafe.  Here, there is both indoor and outdoor seating.  Be warned though, on a nice day in the spring and summer, the wait can be an hour and a half for a table outside, while you may be able to walk right in to one inside.  Just be aware of how much time you have before your ferry arrives.

 

On nice days, you’re likely to run into a long line of tourists and cyclists.  Beware that the Tiburon Ferry stacks bikes one top of one another because there is only one bike rack!! We call this the bike massacre!  It also doesn’t help that the ferries from Tiburon stop in Sausalito as well most of the time.  Even more bikes will be piled up in that mess.  Just put your gears into 1-1 in an attempt to protect your derailers. For more on how to fend for your bike read about “The Hat Trick“.

Make sure you take plenty of pictures from Tiburon.  You’ll pass by Angel Island, Sausalito, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

 

Fisherman’s Wharf

Once you make it back to Pier 41 at Fisherman’s Warf, you have a lot of restaurants to choose from.  We enjoying going to the outdoor stalls for dungeness crab.  When this becomes our dinner of choice, we go to Nick’s Lighthouse.

These guys have their fresh, live crab out at the steaming stall on the right.

 

It can be prepared either just steamed, or if you ask nicely at the counter, they also can prepare it in garlic butter, or our favorite, the spicy garlic butter!!!

Make sure to try not only the crab, but the crab chowder or lobster bisque as well!! Both are just amazing on a cold day.  You can get them in either a cup or a Boudin Bread Bowl.  They also serve beer and wine outside, you can see my Anchor Steam in the brown bag.  Nick’s is a great place and the service is awesome!

You might ask, “Hey, what did you do with your bikes?”  That’s a good question! The closest bike racks are down the street in front of the Boudin Bakery.  That’s a bit of a hike when you’re hungry! So what we did to ensure that our bikes were not only safe, but visible, is to lock them to the anchoring chains around the parking lot across the street.

Using the U-Lock and cables, just run the sides of the U-Lock through the chain links and your cables after connecting your cables to your rear wheel, frame and front wheel.  This is as secure as the bikes can get.

Just think of dinner as your reward for making it through the jaws of life!

Trail: MARIN CROSSROADS – The Source of Great Beginnings


Marin Crossroads

Crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge is one thing, but riding into Sausalito is its own reward on a stretch of Alexander Avenue we like to call “Weeeee Fast Fun!” There’s room for slower speeds in the bike lane but if you know you can keep up with the cars you can take to the lane. Watch how we descend into Sausalito and see more about the exciting possibilities of biking in Marin from crossing the bridge.


The Marin Crossroads are where you make your decision on which northern Marin destination you will bike to today (or to an extra eight miles for a more hearty ride to Sausalito). Going north out of Sausalito takes you onto both the road and a wonderful bike path with a whirlwind of other cyclists that will hopefully make you feel like one and also keep you on the right track.
Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 14.43 miles
Distance from Sausalito: 4.02 miles
Difficulty: It’s not about the road, it’s about the destination. With a mix of on-road riding and multi-use paths, this relatively flat four miles is beginning portion of trails to other Marin destinations or a great adjunct to your Sausalito run.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – Marin Crossroads
From Sausalito:
In favor of a longer ride through Marin, from then end of The Golden Gateway, ride past the Sausalito Ferry Terminal, continuing to follow the main drag, Bridgeway Drive, out of town.
On the north edge of town past the central tourist traps in Sausalito you will find some restaurants worth your pit stop and a handy gas station to get you on your way.
Why stop at a gas station on a bicycle?
 
We need to fuel too! Gas stations are the quickest way to prop up your bike without the hassles of locking it, so you can get in, get your fuel (energy/sports drinks, water, power bars) and get out in less than 5 minutes. We like biking superhero, Lance Armstong, endorsed FRS drinks when we’re riding. Great energy and no crash! (No, he does not endorse this message. We wish!)
 
The Sausalito Taco Shop is a colorful gem tucked away in the northern section of Sausalito and a great place to stop for lunch. The restaurant itself grew out of a small family business near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when the son migrated to Sausalito and opened up his own restaurant. Try the Taco de Carne Asada which makes us say “Ole!” Total stop time: 30 – 40 minutes.
 
If you’re more in the mood for breakfast or brunch, then the Fred’s Place Coffee Shop is the perfect diner. Here you will find a bevy breakfast foods, eggs however you like them and hearty sandwiches.
 
While the service is friendly and swift, due to its small size there may be a wait for a table or you will be seated at a communal table. In the meantime the heavenly aromas will wet your appetite. Total stop time: 45 – 60 minutes.
Continuing along Bridgeway alongside traffic, you will begin a slight hill climb right after you pass the last restaurants.
At each traffic light continue to go straight and follow the bike lane (the beauty of following other bikes can be as helpful as Rudolf to reindeer at times like this.)
Recognize your second hill by the side-by-side bike lane and parking lane, which give you extra room next to the traffic.
After short while longer on Bridgeway, you’ll come to the entrance of US-101 North. Though bikes are allowed for a short distance on 101, it is advisable to take the bike-friendly multi-use path after the traffic light.
The entrance to the bike path is to the right of the road when you cross the intersection.
You’ll be able to identify it because Mike’s Bikes will be on the right hand side.
Sometimes, the very beginning of the bike path is flooded.

To avoid getting your ride (and butt) wet and muddy, avoid the puddles by making a right at the stop light (at Mike’s Bikes) and instead of crossing the road turn into it.
After passing the set of buildings that includes Mike’s Bikes make a left into the parking lot.
Intuitively make your way around the back of the buildings.
You’ll find another cross-over from the parking lot right onto the bike path between the trees on the left. Mind the cyclists coming from the other direction around this tight turn. Turn right onto the bike path.

The Multi-Use Path

This path is quite pleasant and a great change from riding on the road in traffic. You’ll be riding along the northern part of the bay up Bike Route 5. The only drawback is the stop-start juxtaposition of casual walkers and speed demon bikers screaming “ON YOUR LEFT!!” Just keep an eye open and an ear out and savor this truly beautiful and otherwise peaceful bit of trail.

When you want to stop and take pictures (inevitably because of the beautiful area) just pull over to the dirt shoulder. Remember: blocking the trail with your person or bike is like double parking on a highway and brings out the inner bike douche in everyone! So try to stay aware of yourself and pose for your calendar wisely.

On this multi-use path respect all your multi-wheeled friends.

The bike path will take you under US-101 and you will continue through the marshes. Another mile or so down the road you will intersect Bike Route 8 next to a skateboard park.

Bike Path 8 is the first intersection of the crossroads.

If you choose to make a right turn, this path will take you to Tiburon through the very scenic route of Strawberrry. If you make a left here, you will follow Bike Path 10 and go to Mill Valley which is the entrance to the Mt. Tamalpais climb, Stinson Beach through the Panoramic Highway, Shoreline Highway or Muir Woods.
Going further along the bike path, you will find yourself at another juncture soon as the multi-use path faces a busy intersection.
The end of the Marin Crossroads is the light at East Blithedale Avenue.
If you decide to cross the road at East Blithedale, you will be heading towards Corte Madera. This path allows you to go not only to Corte Madera, but also will be used to go to Larkspur, Ross, San Anselmo, Fairfax and beyond.
Making a right at East Blithedale will take you the shorter route to Tiburon, explained further in my next post.
Even if you wait till the last minute to make up your mind on where to go, or just turn back for the ferry at Sausalito, just enjoy the journey through the Marin Crossroads your entry into greater Marin County.
Want to know where this photo was taken in Marin? You’ll have to keep on reading and riding to find out for yourself!