MTB Trail: Miwok Trail – Tennessee Valley to the Marin Headlands


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If you are up for a challenge, the Miwok Trail adds a degree of difficulty to your ride with its technical climb out of the Tennessee Valley back towards the Marin Headlands.  With its horse trail stairs and deep ruts, this is no trail for beginners.  Conquering this trail gives you appreciation for your front shock and builds your climbing prowess.

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Distance: 5.75 miles  (9.3 km)

Elevation Gain: 1068 feet (325 meters)

Difficulty: This trail has a technical assent with stairs and a fast descent back toward the Marin Headlands.  This is definitely an intermediate ride.

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Starting at the Tennessee Valley parking lot, walk your bike through the Miwok Stables until you see the trail on the right next to the manure pit.

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This is the beginning of the Old Springs Trail.

The Old Springs Trial has a series of stairs and bends as you climb the 1.3 miles to the Miwok Trail.

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This trail can get technical in spots where the dirt gets larger rocks and the pitch increases.

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Continue to follow the Miwok Trail as it continues to roll over the wooden bridges before turing onto the Miwok Trail.

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At the top of Old Springs Trail, make a right onto the Miwok Trial and start the descent.

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The descent is fast, so check your brakes and stay in control.  Watch out for the deep ruts and hikers on the descent as well.

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As the descent flattens out, watch for a turn to the left to return to the Bobcat trail and the Marin Headlands.  The left turn is 2.75 miles from the start.  If you make the left, watch for a quick right just after a set of stairs.  Follow this trail for a few hundred feet to the bridge and make a right, then a left on the other side of the bridge to return to Bunker Road.

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Or…

If you miss the turn (like I did on this particular run), continue straight on the Miwok Trail and you will end up in a parking lot along Bunker Road.

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Make a left on Bunker Road and follow it to the entrance to the Coastal Trail on your right, the same trail you came down on our Bobcat Trail route.

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Follow the Coastal Trail as it climbs its way back to the roundabout in the Marin Headlands.

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Go through the gate and start up the trail.

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As you experienced on the way down, this trail narrows in places and has loose rock in others.

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Continue winding your way back up the trail and through the narrow single-track.

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At the top of the climb, you’ll be back at the parking lot next to the roundabout and will be able to see the familiar red paint on the North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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While challenging, the Miwok Trail is rewarding not only for the views, but also the sense of accomplishment once you realized what your mountain bike and you can do!  Enjoy and stay safe.

 

MTB Trail: West Point Inn to East Peak, Mt. Tam, Part 2


Reaching the peak of Mt. Tam is an achievement for any biker, road or mountain.  The second part of the ride from West Point Inn to East Peak is relatively tame, but worth the additional time for the wonderful views and sense of accomplishment.

Map - West Point to Tam

Elevation - West Point to Tam

Length: 1.7 miles (2.7 km)

Elevation Gain: 534 ft (163 m)

Difficulty:  The second part of the climb is very tame with an optional steep grade at the entrace to the parking lot at the East Peak.

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At the West Point Inn you will encouter the interstection with Old Stage Road.  Old Stage Road is the trail that will take you back to the ranger station at the intersection of Panoramic Highway and Pan Toll Road as seen in the road bike trail …

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From the West Point Inn, continue climbing and go toward the right past the interstection with Old Stage Road.

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The climbing continues for just under two miles.

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The trail ends at the “saddle” of Mt. Tam.  The “saddle” is the  dip between the Middle Peak and East Peak.

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The top of the trail is marked by a gate.

Past the gate is East Ridgecrest Drive.  From the gate, make a right and onto the road.  Follow the road another hundred feet and your big decision of the day presents itself.  There is a bike and pedestrian walking path on your right and the road to the parking lot straight ahead and the entrance to Eldridge Grade Trail to your left.

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Eldridge Grade Trial will take you down the backside of Mt. Tam toward Ross and Fairfax.  Following East Ridgecrest you will encounter a short, 18% climb leads directly to the parking lot and panoramic views all around.  Taking the path winds you below the parking lot directly to the picnic table and bathrooms.  It’s a much easier way to reach the top and just a quarter mile long.

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To your left, just past the picnic benches is a short path that leads you up to the parking lot, which have sweeping views of the Bay Area.  At this point you’ve reached one of the pinnacle climbs in the Bay Area.

Enjoy the view and get ready for the 8.5 mile descent just ahead of you.

MTB Trail: Old Railroad Grade – Mill Valley to West Point Inn, Mt. Tam, Part 1


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Mount Tamalpias (aka Mt. Tam) is the highest peak in Marin County and can be seen from all around San Francisco Bay. Making it to the top on your road bike is a feet as you conquer stage after stage of steep, leg-busting climbs.

However, on a mountain bike the climb to the top is a bit more gentle. It still includes a significant and lengthy climb, but the trail was carved by using the old railroad bed from “The Crookedest Railroad in the World” which took passengers and timber to and from the top of Mt. Tam from 1896 to 1930.

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This first part of the trail takes you to the West Point Inn, a stop that has been open since 1904.

The total route is 8.25 miles long with gradients ranging from 4%-7%, and an average grade of 5%. While the significant uphill section is long and winding, the downhill is also steep and fast as the original trail was meant for a gravity train.

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Length: 6.51 miles (11 km)

Elevation Gain: 1,704 feet (519 m)

Difficulty: The major challenge to this route is the constant climbing along with some rocky ground. While the pitch doesn’t go above 7%, breaks may be necessary just to keep you moving. This trail is not for beginners, but it can be conquered by mountain bikers with some pretty minimal experience.

Route

This route starts in downtown Mill Valley at the intersection of Throckmorton and Miller Avenue.

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You’ll recognize this intersection from our route, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. This time, make a right on to Throckmorton and then another right onto Corte Madera Avenue.

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Next, make a left on to West Blithedale Ave.

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Follow West Blithedale for the next mile to Old Railroad Grade.

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Make sure to make a left to follow West Blithedale at the intersection with Woodline Road.

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Continue along West Blithedale for another half mile.

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You’ll see the path entrance on your right through a gate.

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Cross over the bridge just past the gate.

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The climbing starts now.  If you’re lucky, you’ll have the opportunity to see mountain biking pioneer and legend Gary Fisher as he swoops past you.

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Gary Fisher 1 Zoom

Continue climbing through the wooded fire road as it climbs higher and higher.

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The tree cover will open as you continue climbing.  Watch for the sweeping views.

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You’ll then encounter a gate with a bench and then Fern Canyon Road, which is a public road open to cars.  Keep right and continue climbing.

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Another mile or so along Fern Canyon Road and you’ll be back on the trail after going through the gate.

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A short way down the path you will wind around a couple of 180 degree turns and pass Gravity Car Road.  These are the start the next twisting climbs.

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The Gravity Car Road leads back to Panoramic Highway right at the Mountain Home Inn.  If you’re done climbing for the day, this is a good bail out option.

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If you are ready to continue climbing, make a right where the trail intersects with the Gravity Car Road to continue climbing as Old Railroad Grade twists and winds around the mountain. 

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The climbing will continue for another mile or two until you reach the West Point Inn.

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This is a great place to stop, use the “facilities” and take a well-deserved break.  

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We’ll pick up from here to take you the rest of the way to the top of Mt. Tam in the next installment.  Stay tuned and have a great ride! 

 

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!

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!

Tour de Tahoe 2011 Recap


Miko & Jon at the Finish Line -- 5 hours, 5 minutes, 20 seconds!

The Tour de Tahoe was a tough, yet beautiful ride that took you from Stateline, Nevada up the switchbacks along Route 89, through Tahoe City, Incline Village and back down the steep descent along Route 50 back into Stateline.  See our pictures of the event below. This ride was very challenging with almost 4,300 feet of elevation gain. If you are up for a challenge, this is the ride to do!

Team WeLikeToBike pauses up the switchbacks along Rt. 89 with Big Blue in the background

Lake Tahoe glistens in the early morning sun

Bikers pause at the first rest area

Lake Tahoe from the Kings Beach lunch rest stop

After 40 miles of riding, bikes are strewn across the parking lot

Pausing for lunch along the beach

Team WeLikeToBike pauses for lunch

Here’s a couple of links to videos of the route by Jim from a few years ago. Our ride was less sunny and the descent was wetter than a water park!

http://www.vimeo.com/1121888

http://www.vimeo.com/1160193

To sign up for next year’s America’s Most Beautiful Ride (June) or Tour de Tahoe (September), visit BikeTheWest.com.

Tours: Tour de Tahoe — Ride Your Bike Around “Big Blue”


Going to Lake Tahoe is typically associated with boating, camping or snow skiing. The opportunity to have a fully-supported bike ride around Lake Tahoe is available only twice a year, June and September.

Both of these rides are put on by Nevada’s BikeTheWest. The first event of the year is called “American’s Most Beautiful Ride,” put on every June. This time of year is tends to be a bit chilly and snow is still prevalent in the higher elevations.

The second event of the year is the “Tour de Tahoe” in coordination with the Ride to Cure Diabetes. This ride starts in Stateline, Nevada and continues around the south side of Lake Tahoe along Route 50, then heads north up Route 89, then continues to loop the north side of the lake along Route 28 and once again joins up with Route 50 on the ride back into Stateline, Nevada.

There are two ways to enter this ride, through BikeTheWest.com for $100 or as part of the Ride to Cure Diabetes team.  The Ride to Cure has a series of rides all over the country with a variety of different fundraising levels. The minimum level of fundraising to be part of its team is $2,000.  If you don’t think you can raise this money, the best way to be part of this ride is directly through BikeTheWest.

We will be participating in the Tour de Tahoe on Sunday, September 11, 2011 through BikeTheWest. We can’t wait to take part of this amazing ride! We will be training for this ride as the elevation change is just over 3,000 starting at 6,500 feet above sea level.

We will post pictures of the ride later. We hope you will be able to join us or find a ride in your own area.