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.

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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!

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!