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!

Advertisements

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

Trail: ROLLER COASTER RIDE — Descent to Stinson Beach


Watch the video of our descent to Stinson Beach, California.

Making the journey to Stinson Beach is one of the most satisfying trails in Marin County. There are no tourists out this way because of the difficulty involved in both the climb and descent.   The climb to reach the crest of Panoramic Highway is a long, arduous path, not for the faint of heart or legs. The descent to Stinson Beach is mentally challenging, very fast and highly technical. The switchbacks toward the end are a series of 180 degree turns over rough road which are entered at high speed and long, steep straightaways leading to the next switchback.  The work is worth the reward as this descent is one of the most thrilling in the Bay Area!

Distance from San Francisco 27.15 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 12.72 miles; from Somewhere Over the Rainbow 8.64 miles; from A Panoramic View 4.15 miles

Difficulty:  Fast and Highly Technical

Descent: 1476 feet of Elevation Loss Over the 4.15 mile Descent

Download your route sheet here: Directions – Roller Coaster Ride

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

At the end of A Panoramic View you have the choice of continuing your assent up Mt. Tam along Paying the Toll, descending back to Sausalito, or taking the plunge and descending to Stinson Beach.  If you choose Stinson Beach, you are in for a thrilling, high-speed descent to the Pacific Ocean.

At the crest of Panoramic Highway, you have 4 miles to either the top of Mt. Tam or to Stinson Beach

The descent takes about 10 to 20 minutes, be ready to be in the drops almost that entire time. Cars are a constant factor in slowing you down, but being passed on your way down is pretty unlikely.

The descent starts in the woods and has some high speed straights that lead to sweeping corners.

The corners along this part of the ride are where you will start to catch up with cars.

Though if necessary, you can take a break at the next corner to allow the car more time to get ahead of you, so as to not ruin your ride or overheat your breaks.

The air is always cool on this part of the descent with the canopy of trees.

After spending the first two mile in the woods, you’ll come to an opening and the beginning of the Alpinesque switchbacks.

The panoramic views from the bike here are just picturesque.

It’s worth taking a break to admire the views and take some pictures at this point.

But get ready, the rest of the descent is very tricky.  The straights are steep, very fast with smooth roads, but…

The corners at the switchbacks in this area are the roughest part of the road, so pay attention to your entry speed, or you might end up sliding or crashing.

The nature of these turns allow you to tip the bike to extreme angle on this part of the descent, keeping up your speed through the corners.

The last few switchbacks have long straight aways in between where you have to start peddling for the first time since reaching the crest of Panoramic Highway.

A few of the corners toward the end of the descent are a little less technical than those at the top.

 Don’t fall asleep though, there are still technical corners lingering at the end of the run.  Watch your entry speeds going into these last few corners, the rough roads through the corners make these turns very difficult.

After the last series of swithbacks, the road will level out and end at the Pacific Coast Highway, CA-1.

Make a right to head into Stinson Beach.

When you arrive in Stinson Beach, make sure to stop at the Sand Dollar Restaurant and grab a bite to eat.

Making the journey to Stinson Bach is one of the major achievements for bikers in the Bay Area.  It is a ride that can challenge you both mentally and physically.  Once you’ve made it, you realize the climb and mentally challenging descent were all worth it.  So enjoy a bite to eat before you head back.

Once you are ready to head back to Sausalito, you have two options.  The first is to return on Panoramic Highway the way you came. The second option is to return along the Pacific Coast Highway, CA-1 through Muir Beach and make the climb back to Sausalito. Look forward to this article coming soon!

Until then, you can watch video the of return along Highway One in “The Dog Day Are Over” below. Enjoy!

Trail: A PANORAMIC VIEW – Mount Tamalpais, Part 2


The second stage of the Mount Tamalpais climb contains some of the most breathtaking views in Western Marin County.  Follow Panoramic Highway as it winds and climbs from Sequoia Valley Road to Pan Toll Road.  Topping out at just over 1500 feet, climbing the 6.5 miles to the crest of Panoramic Highway is an achievement alone. No matter what direction you choose to go next, you’ll feel like a rockstar when you arrive!

Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail) 23.00 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 8.57 miles; from Somewhere Over the Rainbow 4.49 miles

Difficulty: If you think you can huff it out with some of the Bay Area’s seasoned cyclists, give it a shot!

Climbing on Route: 925 feet (298 meters)

Total Elevation Gain from Marin Crossroads: 1529 feet (493 meters)

Download your route sheet here: Directions – A Panoramic View

Download your route sheet for the entire Mount Tamalpais Route here: Directions – There and Back Again

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

 

At the end of Sequoia Valley Road, turn right on Panoramic Highway.

After a brief break from climbing as you pass the Yoga on the Mountain sign, a half mile of very tough climbing begins.

Yoga on the Mountain at the Muir Woods Community Center

The climbing begins

The initial two hills are broken up by a short flat where you have your first views of the valleys below.

Passing over the valleys and climbing through the mist

The second climb, as you reach the curve signs, you are almost there

At the top of the second climb you reach the only descent on this stage.  Enjoy this pedal-free section as you take in spectacular views.  The fog will break and views of the peaks around Mt. Tam and Muir Woods below will open.  Though the route is sparsely populated, the Mountain Home Inn sits about halfway through this part of the trail.

Take a break and glide down the descent

If it starts out foggy, you

 

The peaks around Mt. Tam start to appear at this point along Panoramic Highway.

Muir Woods is visible in the valley below

Mountain Home Inn

If you are seeking a break or food before the next part of the assent, the Mountain Home Inn is a great place to stop and eat lunch.  Amazing views of Mill Valley, Strawberry and Tiburon await you at the outdoor seating.

Follow the sign and keep climbing along Panoramic Highway.  The next mile and a half of the route takes twists and turns through the woods.  With flat to moderate climbing along this section you can pick up the pace.

You will notice the beginning of the major climb when you start slowing down and your legs begin to burn.  This last mile and a half of the route is a tough, steep slog through the woods up to the crest of Panoramic Highway.  Bootjack picnic area signals the last quarter mile of the climb.

At Mount Tamalpais State Park, Panoramic Highway reaches its peak and signifies the end of this section of the Mt. Tam trail.

Entrance of Mount Tamalpais State Park

To the left, the descent to Stinson Beach. To the right, Pan Toll road and a continued assent of Mount Tamalpais looms.

With the final climb on Panoramic Highway over, you have a few options of what to do next. If a descent is calling your name, you can take a break, enjoy the spectacular descent into Stinson Beach and the views that go along with it.  Just remember that what goes down, must climb back up.  If your legs are still feeling strong, there are two more stages of climbing to summit Mt. Tam.  Watch for our trail “Paying the Toll” detailing this assent coming soon.

If you are done climbing, the descent back to Sausalito down Panoramic Highway is seven fast and furious miles of twists and turns skimming the ridge above Muir Woods.  You’ll easily keep up with the 30 mph speed limit and only be slowed down by the Sunday drivers.