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!
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Trail: COFFEE RUN — San Anselmo and Fairfax


San Anselmo and Fairfax are quaint little towns that loom at the base of the Coastal Range. Both are great spots to start a ride or grab lunch. Restaurants and coffee shops are all along the main drag of each town. Some of our favorite places to eat during a ride are in this area. These towns also hold different festivals throughout the year, so feel free to stop in and find your own favorite spot.

-Trail Starts at mile 6.0 of The Larkspur Connection
-Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 32.22 miles; Distance from Marin Crossroads: 18.79 miles; Distance from Sausalito: 22.81 miles
Elevation Gain on trail: 125 feet
Difficulty: It’s not about the road, it’s about the destination. With a mix of on-road riding and multi-use paths, this rolling eight miles runs from the end of the Marin Crossroads to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and is a short, but fun adventure.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – Coffee Run
Starting at the intersection of Magnolia Avenue, Route 15, and Bon Air Boulevard, just outside of Larkspur, continue along Magnolia Avenue toward Ross.
Follow Magnolia Avenue until you reach the stop sign at Kent Avenue. Make a left at the stop sign, then jog to the right onto Kent Avenue, continuing to follow Route 15.
 
Follow Kent Avenue through Ross and past the Ross Commons.
Kent Avenue and Route 15 dead end at Lagunitas Road.  Make a left onto Lagunitas Road, then make quick right onto Shady Lane.
You pick up Route 20 the rest of the way to San Anselmo.
Follow Shady Lane to Bolinas Avenue.
Make a right onto Bolinas Avenue, then make the first left at the stoplight onto San Anselmo Avenue (just like the black Lexus in the second picture below).
This road takes you through the heart of San Anselmo. Just past the next stop light is one of our favorite lunch spots, Comforts.
The Chinese Chicken Salad is a house favorite at Comforts, a popular place for locals and where you will see cyclists around who are post-ride or taking a break for lunch.
If you are not ready for lunch, but would like to have coffee and bond with other cyclists, continue down the street and Marin Coffee Roasters & Cafe, another hub for bike chatter.
With bike racks set up front you’ll see everything from restored 1960’s Schwinn comfort bikes, to mountain bikes to souped-up road bikes parked in front of this coffee house. Riders drink joe and swap stories about rides and where they plan to go next.  If you’ve never had it, we recommend trying the frozen green bubble tea  – a green tea frappuccino with tapioca balls (see below).
For more choices continue along San Anselmo Avenue through the rest of the town towards Fairfax, then make a left, following San Anselmo Avenue and Route 20, just past the 7-11.
Continue to follow along Route 20 and San Anselmo Avenue. San Anselmo Avenue makes a right just after Madrone Avenue.  Just after Redwood Road, there is a “Y” in the road, follow the “Y” to the right and continue along San Anselmo Avenue.  San Anselmo Boulevard turns into Lansdale Avenue.  The road ends at Pastoni Avenue, make a right and then a quick left onto Center Boulevard.
Along Center Boulevard then next place to stop for a coffee is the Java Hut.  This is not only a place to stop for coffee early in the morning, but also a great place to park if you want to start you ride from Fairfax.
Following along Center Boulevard, make a left at Bolinas Road.  On the corner is Fairfax Coffee Roastery.
The Coffee Roaster is at the corner of the route you take to get to Alpine Dam, Mt. Tam and Bolinas. These are the last set of restaurants to get some nourishment at before making some major climbs. (BE WARNED!)
While it may be difficult to make friends with fellow cyclists on hard climbs or fast descents, hanging out in places where cyclists congregate to eat and drink is one of the most enjoyable social aspects of cycling. Swapping stories over coffee or lunch is a great way to hear about rides you may want to take (or those you would not want to take). Socialization in cycling is something to keep the community growing in both numbers and camaraderie. Next time you are out on a ride, make sure to enjoy coffee with a fellow cyclist.

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!