Trail: THE GOLDEN GATE LOOP — Golden Gate Bridge to Golden Gate Park and Back


Before you venture across the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco also has other beautiful sites like the Presidio, Legion of Honor, the Cliff House, Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park some of which were featured in the 2012 Amgen Tour de California and the route from Lincoln Boulevard to Golden Gate Park are all part of the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. Golden Gate Park is the place to be on Sundays when two miles of John F. Kennedy Boulevard is closed to cars. On a nice day, this route is a great way to add some miles to your ride or just see more of the sites of San Francisco from you bike.

Distance: from San Francisco Ferry Building 16.75 miles, route is 11.98 miles long

–Trail Starts at mile 4.77 of The Golden Gateway

–Trail Ends at mile 5.37 of The Golden Gateway at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge

Climbing on Route: 686 feet (209 meters)

Difficulty: The route has a couple of long climbs and one that is very steep, but short. Overall, it’s a great ride, even on a rental bike.

-Elevation Map for the Route provided by MapMyRide.com
Download the Route Sheet here: Directions – Golden Gate Loop
Starting at mile 4.77 of the Golden Gateway Trail, make a left onto Lincoln Boulevard and follow it to Park Road. Make a right onto Park Road, then another right onto Kobbe Avenue. You’ll reach a peak along Kobbe Avenue as you cross Washington Boulevard that gives you a beautiful view of Sea Cliff and the Lands End trail.
Keep following Kobbe Avenue until it ends at Lincoln Boulevard, then make a left onto Lincoln Boulevard and enjoy the descent until you reach Sea Cliff at 25th Avenue and the road becomes El Camino del Mar.

Continue to follow El Camino del Mar as it goes through Sea Cliff and make a left when the road reaches an end.

Continue following El Camino del Mar as it climbs to the Legion of Honor, then make a left at 34th Avenue up the last bit of the climb.
You can either park your bike and take in an exhibit or continue along the descent down 34th Avenue to its intersection with Clement Street.
Make a right onto Clement Street and continue to climb through the Outer Richmond district. Clement Street ends and the street becomes Seal Rock Drive.
Seal Rock Drive is a short, but very steep hill with a stop sign at the end. Make a left at the stop sign onto El Camino del Mar, but be careful on this descent for any cars crossing your path who do not have stop signs.
El Camino del Mar quickly intersects with Point Lobos Avenue which becomes the Great Highway (CA-1). Make a right onto Point Lobos Avenue and continue descending past the Cliff House Restaurant.

Again, be very careful on this descent as you will pick up speeds of 30+ mph, but will have cars backing out from their perpendicular parking spots along the road and other cars stopping to spalk. Stay toward the dashed lane line for safety.
Continue to follow the Great Highway a few more lights until you get to John F. Kennedy Drive, just before the Beach Chalet. You will make a left onto JFK Drive, although the safest way is to enter the parking lot just before the light and use the crosswalk.
Follow JFK Drive past the windmills and through the park. This is a bit of a climb, but not much of a grade and the lanes also tend to be wide. Just stay vigilant for parked cars opening their doors.
JFK Drive turns left at the first stop sign with South Fork Road. Turn left and continue along JFK Drive.
Along the way, you will see the buffalo pasture, picnic areas, sports fields, Lindy in the Park and the de Young Museum. On Sundays, JFK Drive is closed to cars and is bike and pedestrians only from Transverse Drive to Kezar Drive. Once or twice a year they shut down the Great Highway from JFK Drive to the San Francisco Zoo, along with the entire length of JFK Drive from the Great Highway to Kezar Drive for Sunday Streets. Check the Sunday Streets website for the day(s).
Just after the de Young Museum, make a left onto Conservatory Drive West, and then another left onto Arguello Boulevard. There is a light on Arguello Boulevard just as you exit the park.
Continue along Arguello Boulevard as it crosses Geary Boulevard and California Street. Arguello Boulevard has a very steep climb at the end, just before it enters into the Presidio. Gear down to prepare for this 15% – 18% grade climb.
Continue along Arguello Boulevard in the Presidio as it winds its way past the Presidio Golf Course and Vista Point. Just past Vista Point, make a left onto Washington Boulevard just before Arguello Boulevard starts to descend.
Follow Washington Boulevard through the Presidio. After some rolling hills, you will pass by another lookout point and then cross Kobbe Avenue at the World War II Memorial. Washington Boulevard, then merges with Lincoln Boulevard.
The traffic at this point increases significantly. Follow Lincoln Boulevard until it intersects with Merchant Road at a stop sign. Make a left onto Merchant Road.
Follow Merchant Road, but be careful, this road merges directly onto US-101. DO NOT GET ON US-101! Make a left and follow Bike Route 95 just before the intersection with US-101.
Follow the bike path under the bridge and you be back at the path on the East Side of the Golden Gate Bridge. From here you can either cross on the pedestrian side of the bridge or go to the Bay Trail and cross to the bike side of the bridge. Either way, the route has met back up with The Golden Gateway.
This route through San Francisco allows you to add mileage to your route to Marin, or to jut enjoy more of the biking San Francisco has to offer on those days you don’t feel like crossing the bridge. Either way, this route has beautiful scenery, great riding and gives you alternate way to access some of San Francisco’s treasures.

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UPDATE: Golden Gate Bridge West Side (Bike Side) Reopened — May 18, 2012! Woo Hoo!


On May 18, 2012 the West Side of the Golden Gate Bridge will finally reopened to bicyclists!  Just in time for the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge on May 27th, 2012. The Golden Gate Transit Authority has no further plans to close the west side of the bridge again. See release for further details.

Until the west side is reopened, there will be some changes to the way bikes enter the south side (San Francisco side) of the bridge.  Between May 7, 2012 and May 17, 2012 the ramp from the parking lot to the bridge (red line) will be closed as part of the renovation.  Bikers will need to either walk their bikes down the ramp used by pedestrians (purple line) or ride along the sidewalk around the toll plaza next to US-101 (green line).  See release for further details.

Pedestrians and those bicyclists who would rather go slow and enjoy the view will now be able to cross on the East Side of the bridge.  Those of us who would rather go a bit faster will be able to make our way across on the West Side allowing us to live in harmony once again with the pedestrians.  Just remember to be courteous to one another even on the West Side, the reopening doesn’t give you free rein to be a Bike Douche!  The day and hour regulations for the West Side go back into effect on May 18, 2012. See below for details.

Once you get to the north (Marin County) end of the West Side, you have a few options for what to do next.  You can go through the twistes down to Fort Baker, cross under the Bridge and head to Sausalito that way, ride up (and down) the Marin Headlands by making a left out of the parking lot entrance or make a right out the parking lot entrance and go to Sausalito that way.  See The Golden Gateway for details.

Once the West Side reopens, enjoy and maybe even stop and take a picture when it’s clear (aka look both ways before crossing).  Happy riding!

UPDATE: Golden Gate Bridge West Sidewalk Still Closed — April 1, 2012 through May 15, 2012


UPDATE:  The West Side of the Golden Gate Bridge will continue to remain closed for renovations through May 15, 2012.  The renovations were scheduled to last thru April 1, 2012, but they have taken longer to complete than originally anticipated.  For more information, see the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District information page here.

This West side reopened in mid-September 2011 from the last round of repairs and seismic renovations.  The East Side reopened to pedestrians to cross the full extent of the Golden Gate Bridge in December 2011 after seismic renovations.

This next round of construction is the final phase of improvements on the San Francisco side of the bridge including the Battery East Bay Trail (the bike/pedestrian trail from Long Avenue to the Golden Gate Bridge). The renovations will include installation of dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lanes, trail re-surfacing and grade improvements, replaced fencing and lighting, and construction of the Fort Point Vista.

These renovations will affect how you get on to the bridge as both a cyclist and pedestrian. From Long Avenue, either make a right and go up Lincoln Avenue and follow the road to the upper parking area and follow the signs to the bridge. Or you can go up the Bay Trail to the lower parking area and then transition over to Lincoln Avenue and follow the detour.

This round of renovations is not taking place during the high season for tourists fortunately. That fact alone may make this a better interaction than the last round that occurred over the Summer of 2011.

Lane markers and signs were placed on the East Side of the Bridge during the last round of renovations which helped make pedestrians aware and gave cyclists a dedicated lane for movement.

On a typical weekend, over 5,000 bicyclists cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Pedestrians and bicyclists alike will need to be aware of how crowded the bridge will be.  No matter the time of year, the hardest part of crossing on the pedestrian side of the bridge is inattentive tourists who don’t think bikes belong on their side.  Or the teenagers with headphones in who don’t hear the bikes announcing their presence over their music. To experience what it is like to bike across the pedestrian side of the bridge, check out Ridin’ Dirty below.

These next few months will require lots and lots of patience from the bicyclists and understanding from pedestrians.  Just remember to be vigilant and patient as you cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge Sidewalk Closed (Again?) — January 17, 2012 – April 1, 2012


Bicyclists Traverse the East Side of the Golden Gate Bridge

Once again the West Side of the Golden Gate Bridge is close for renovations starting on January 17, 2012.  The renovations are scheduled to last thru April 1, 2012.  For more information, see the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District information page here.

This West side reopened in mid-September 2011 from the last round of repairs and seismic renovations.  The East Side reopened to pedestrians to cross the full extent of the Golden Gate Bridge in December 2011 after seismic renovations.

This next round of construction is the final phase of improvements on the San Francisco side of the bridge including the Battery East Bay Trail (the bike/pedestrian trail from Long Avenue to the Golden Gate Bridge). The renovations will include installation of dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lanes, trail re-surfacing and grade improvements, replaced fencing and lighting, and construction of the Fort Point Vista.

These renovations will affect how you get on to the bridge as both a cyclist and pedestrian. From Long Avenue, either make a right and go up Lincoln Avenue and follow the road to the upper parking area and follow the signs to the bridge. Or you can go up the Bay Trail to the lower parking area and then transition over to Lincoln Avenue and follow the detour.

This round of renovations is not taking place during the high season for tourists fortunately. That fact alone may make this a better interaction than the last round that occurred over the Summer of 2011.

Lane markers and signs were placed on the East Side of the Bridge during the last round of renovations which helped make pedestrians aware and gave cyclists a dedicated lane for movement.

On a typical weekend, over 5,000 bicyclists cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Pedestrians and bicyclists alike will need to be aware of how crowded the bridge will be.  No matter the time of year, the hardest part of crossing on the pedestrian side of the bridge is inattentive tourists who don’t think bikes belong on their side.  Or the teenagers with headphones in who don’t hear the bikes announcing their presence over their music. To experience what it is like to bike across the pedestrian side of the bridge, check out Ridin’ Dirty below.

These next few months will require lots and lots of patience from the bicyclists and understanding from pedestrians.  Just remember to be vigilant and patient as you cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

UPDATE: Golden Gate Bridge East Side Reopened as of November 19, 2011


On Saturday, November 19, 2011, the East Side (Pedestrian Side) of the Golden Gate Bridge is once again open! Read the announcement here.

As of November 19, 2011 pedestrians are once again able to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. This means pedestrians, runners and tourists can now transit completely across from San Francisco to Vista Point in Marin County on the East Side of the Bridge. See the limitations for what transpiration methods are allowed on the East Side here.

So for all of you who want to cross the Golden Gate Bridge by a means other than bike (Why? Who knows.) or for cyclotourists who find the West Side “scary” (Because all of us Bike Douches are scary), the East Side is now your playground!

Enjoy!

 

Golden Gate Bridge West Side Reopened!


Jon and Miko Like Totally Pause Near Fort Point

On September 10, 2011 the West Side of the Golden Gate Bridge reopened to bicyclists. The West Side of the bridge will now be open 24/7 until seismic renovations are completed on the East Side of the Bridge. However, there are some restrictions on bikers during the week in the construction zone where the repainting is occuring. See the release for full details.

The East Side of the Bridge has limited access until mid-January 2012

As of September 12, 2011 pedestrians are unable to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Presently, pedestrians entering from Vista Point in Marin County are limited to the area immediately surrounding Vista Point and a 700 foot section of the Bridge. The renovations will be at the north anchor-housing and will last through mid-January 2012. Visitors from the San Francisco side of the Bridge are able to walk past the second tower, but must turn around at that point.

BIKES ONLY on the West Side! NO Pedestrians, Joggers, Rollerbladers or Skateboarders!

This effectively means that pedestrians, joggers, skateboarders and everyone else, EXCEPT bicyclists WILL NOT be able to cross the Bridge until it reopens in mid-January 2012. If you are a jogger and feel you should be able to run on the bike side of the bridge, DON’T! Bridge Police will be out and cite pedestrians trying to cross on the West Side of the Bridge. So if you want to walk to Sausalito, you will have to park in Marin County to do so.

Although tempting, pedestrians are not to ender the West Side of the Bridge

Bicyclists, you can now rejoice in the fact we can once again ride across the bridge without dealing with pedestrians. So don’t be bike douches, just slow down around the towers and in the construction zone because we all paused for pictures on the Golden Gate Bridge at one point in time and may do so once again.

Miko pauses for a picture at the south tower on the West Side

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!