MTB Trail: Angel Island – The Jewel of the Bay


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Everyone that comes to San Francisco knows the most famous island in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, but only a few know about the Jewel of the Bay, Angel Island.

Angel Island State Park, the largest island in the San Francisco Bay offers some of the best views of the surrounding Bay Area.  It has been a cattle farm, a military barracks, a quarantine station, immigration station and now a nature conservatory.

This was our first endeavor in mountain biking and makes a great introduction for everyone.

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Distance: 9.1 mile (one loop around the top and bottom trails)

Elevation Gain: 1017 feet (310 m)

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Difficulty: Although you can ride your road bike along the lower paved path, the real fun comes when you hit the trails.  This is a great beginner’s trail and gives you an amazing introduction to mountain biking without too much difficulty.

Getting to Angel Island

There are two ways to get to Angel Island.  The easiest way to get there is to take the Blue & Gold Ferry from Pier 41.  This ferry leaves at 9:45 am every day.  You can buy tickets at the box office at Pier 41 or onlineScreen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.26.30 PM Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.26.48 PM

The second way to get to Angel Island is to take the Angel Island Ferry from Tiburon.  This ferry runs at a less regular schedule which varies throughout the year.

You can return to San Francisco either by taking the Blue & Gold Ferry directly back, or your can return to Tiburon, and return on a later ferry back from Tiburon.

When you arrive at Angel Island, you dock at Ayala Cove. This route is a set of loops, so you begin and end at Ayala Cove. This is the dock where you catch the ferry to both Tiburon and San Francisco.

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From Ayala Cove, follow the trail to the Visitor’s Center. Bikes are not allowed on the pavement for a few hundred feet, so make a left onto the trial and follow it to the lower, paved route around the island.

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Approximately a mile and a half down the path, you encounter the trail to Camp Reynolds. Camp Reynolds includes the brick barracks you see from Sausalito and the ferry.

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This is an unpaved trail leads down to the Camp and the water’s edge if you turn right at the fork. At the Camp, you can experience a civil war cannon shot around 1 pm each day.

We prefer to continue along the path and turn left at the fork. This unpaved trail leads back to the main loop shortly ahead.

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Back on the path, once you crest the hill you get amazing sweeping views of San Francisco from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge.  Make sure to stop and take a few pictures, this is really one of the best spots on the island.

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Continuing along the path, you can get your next round of trail riding on your way up to Battery Drew.  To get there, take the left fork and head up the hill.

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Keep climbing and you’ll get some more great views.

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Your next taste of an off-raod downhill is next up.  Its got some loose gravel, some dirt and an nice fast slope.

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A short ride back along the the path and your entrance to the upper off-road trail is on the left.

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The entrance is a steep path with loose rock, so get a head of steam and power your way to the top, where you’ll immediately turn right.

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Follow the upper path as it rolls along with eastern shore of the island with many of the island’s buildings below.

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About halfway along the eastern side, the path makes a sharp left up the hill, away from the picnic area.

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Climb past the water housing area, and watch for deer here. Just past then fence the path takes another left.

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Continue along the gently rolling path and enjoy the gorgeous scenery as you traverse the northern side with Tiburon across the channel.

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As you approach the western side of the island, you’ll see Sausalito and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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The path rolls downhill as it leads you back to the return to the lower main road.

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You can ride the upper path again if you are up for it, or you can turn right and go back to complete the lower path.

When you are ready to head back to the lower path, turn right down the hill and continue straight at the intersection. You’ll get more sweeping views of San Francisco from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge.

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A short way down the path is the best paved downhill of the day. It’s a quick descent with a curve to the left at the bottom where the road forks.

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Quarry Point is down the road on the right. You’ll see housing barracks on the left of the main path and a dock lower down the hill to the right. This part of the island was a rock quarry from 1850 through 1922 and used to construction buildings from Alcatraz to Fort Point and even the California Bank building in the Financial District of San Francisco.

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Further along the path you’ll pass by the Immigration Station. You can go for a stroll or take a tour of the Immigration Station. This immigration station was in use from 1910 thought 1940.

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The rest of the route is another 1.5 miles of rolling path back to Ayala Cove. Watch for the entrance back to the bike route, it is a sharp right after a quick downhill.

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If you miss the turn, no big, just continue on and turn around.

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Follow the path and return back to the docks at Ayala Cove where you can pick up a ride back to Tiburon or San Francisco.

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After a day of adventure on Angel Island, you really get a sense of how much fun mountain biking can be. While most of the route is pretty tame, there is some loose terrain and quick descents that give you a sense of trail riding.

While accessing this park is a bit more complicated than just hopping in your car, it is totally worth while. The views, the experience and the fun you will have both on the island and on the boat to the island are memories waiting to be made.

 

Trail: THE SHARK’S FIN — Paradise Loop — Tiburon to Larkspur


At the end of The Jaws of Life you have a few choices, follow Paradise Drive to Corte Madera and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, wait for the ferry in Tiburon or return to Sausalito.  “Get A Move On” is a glimpse of what you can expect to see on your ride along The Shark’s Fin – popularly known as ‘Paradise Loop’.

Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail) 33.76 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 19.33 miles; from Tiburon (see The Jaws of Life) 11.55 miles

Difficulty: Those comfort bikes are not longer so comfortable after the 20+ mile ride to Tiburon, so this route is typically only for Bay Area bikers and a good workout with the initial climb and the constant rolling hills.

Climbing on Route: 308 feet (94 meters)

Download your route sheet here: Directions – Shark’s Fin

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

It is just over eight miles from Tiburon to the Corte Madera Bike Path, but being able to gauge how far you’ve ridden along the Shark’s Fin and how far you have to go is key when attempting to catch the Larkspur Ferry on the weekends.  Below are the intersections along Paradise Drive as you ride from Tiburon to Larkspur.

Print out a copy to carry along for the ride.

At the intersection of Wornum Drive, cross Redwood Highway and under the US-101 overpass until you reach the intersection with Tamal Vista Boulevard.

Cross the street and you will be on Bike Route 16, the Larkspur-Corte Madera Bike Path.  You will recognize Mount Tamalpais in the background.

Follow the Route 16 over the bridge and make a right onto Route 18 at the path just over the bridge.

Follow the path to Lucky Drive, where Route 18 makes a right.


Follow Lucky Drive until you reach the “Bike Boneyard”.

If you deposit $0.05 with the Tin Man, he will let you know to keep going past the end of the culdesac and up the path to the bridge over the river.

Don’t worry, the pavement doesn’t end for bikes, it keeps going over along the bike path over the bridge. At the end of the bridge, make a hard, almost 180 degree, left-hand-turn and keep on Route 18.

At the end of the path, make a left on to Route 20 towards the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

Follow Route 20 under the bridge.

Under the bridge, you’ll follow Route 20 over the wooden bridge.

At the end of the bridge, make a right towards the ferry terminal.

A little ways down the path you’ll see the bike turn in for the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, make a right and follow the path to the terminal ticket booth.

Once at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, wait on the next ferry back to the San Francisco Ferry Building.  The 5:30p.m. ferry on weekends goes through Sausalito, so make sure you check out our article on the Hat Trick.

After completing the Shark’s Fin, relax and enjoy an adult beverage on the ferry ride back to San Francisco. Whether your decide to go back to San Francisco or keep going beyond Larkspur, have a great ride and a wonderful ride back to San Francisco.

Trail: SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW – The Gateway to Mount Tamalpais, Muir Woods and Stinson Beach – Mount Tamalpais, Part 1


When biking in the Bay Area hill climbing is inevitable, but there’s hill climbing and then there’s mountain climbing. The mountain looming the background most everywhere in Marin County is Mount Tamalpais: the pinnacle of mountain climbing not only in Marin County, but the Bay Area.  There are multiple routes to reach the top of Mt. Tam, as it’s affectionately known to locals, but a favorite is to approach it from Mill Valley.  This route allows you to climb Mt. Tam in four separate stages.  From the finish of each stage, you have the ability to turn back and descend into Mill Valley or Sausalito depending on how far you are prepared to climb.  The first step in climbing Mt. Tam is arriving at Panoramic Highway, the gateway to Muir Woods and Stinson Beach.  The first stage of this challenging assent includes 712 feet of climbing over the last two miles with spectacular views from Panoramic Highway.  Whether you set your sights on conquering Mt. Tam or developing some serious hill climbing skills towards this goal, the vistas along this route will distract from the pain.

Distance: from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail18.51 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 4.08 miles

Difficulty: No pain, no gain.

Climbing on Route: 712 feet (230 meters)

Total Elevation Gain from Marin Crossroads: 712 feet (230 meters)

Download your route sheet here: Directions – Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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.

 

This route has a lot of twists and turns to it, so we’ve broken down the map into parts in order to make it easier to follow.

Marin Crossroads to Miller Avenue

Starting from midway through Marin Crosroads, look for the traffic circle where Route 8 turns to the right towards Tiburon.

 

Make a left at the traffic circle, the opposite direction of Tiburon and follow Route 10 towards Mill Valley.  This is Sycamore Avenue.

Heading down Sycamore Avenue

Go through the light and stop signs until you get to the intersection of La Goma.  This is a five way stop and you will make an immediate left.  You’ll see the orange house on the right, keep following La Goma until you get to Miller Avenue.

Left on La Goma

Follow La Goma

Miller Avenue to Presidio Avenue

At the first stop sign on La Goma, make a right on to Miller Avenue.  As you head down Miller Avenue you’ll see Mt. Tam in the foreground.

Right on Miller Avenue

Heading down Miller Avenue towards Mt. Tam

You’ll know you’re on the right path when you pass the “village”, seemingly lost in time…Riding down Miller Avenue, you’ll see palm trees and redwoods growing side-by-side, perhaps an oddity unique to Northern California.

Presidio Avenue to Old Mill Park

Follow Miller Avenue until you approach the Mill Valley Cabinet Shop on your left.  Here, you’ll make a quick right onto Millwood Street and then an immediate left onto Presidio Avenue.

Mill Valley Cabinet Shop on left, signals a right onto Millwood and left onto Presidio (the red car is on Presidio)

Follow Presidio Avenue and Route 10 where you’ll ride by Mill Valley’s namesake…the mill.

Mill Valley Lumber Company

After passing the mill, you’ll come to a bend in the road where you follow the Route 10 signs through a bend to the right.  Follow the directions of the “little green man” around the bend.

The little green man signals the route

and then a quick left onto Laurelwood…

Follow Laurelwood until it ends at Sunnyside Avenue.  Then make a left onto Sunnyside Avenue.

Follow Sunnyside Avenue through the center of Mill Valley.  Look at the map above and just remember to follow the Route 10 signs if the turns in this part of the route get a bit confusing.  The twists and turns in this section are to keep you off Miller Avenue where it has high-speed traffic and no shoulder.  Once you arrive at the stop sign with Miller Avenue, this signals the end of Route 10.  The rest of journey to Panoramic Highway you’ll have to watch for the street names as this next part of the journey is not part of a marked bike route.

The stop sign at Miller is the end of Route 10

The green sign (pictured above), below the stop sign at Miller Avenue, indicates “Mt Tamalpais, Muir Woods and Stinson Beach” to the left, these are directions for cars, not cyclists.  Instead, you will make a right on to Miller Avenue.

Another look at the map from Presidio Avenue to Old Mill Park

A look down the last section of Miller

At the next stop sign, you will encounter another five-way intersection (pictured below).  Make an immediate left down Throckmorton Avenue.  You will pass the Throckmoroton Theatre on your right.

The intersection at Throckmorton

Making a left onto Throckmorton

Follow Throckmorton until you reach Old Mill Park.

Old Mill Park to Edgewood Avenue

Make a left at the intersection onto Cascade Way/Old Mill Street and into Old Mill Park.

Intersection of Old Mill Street/Cascade Way and Throckmorton

 

There is a little slope you can glide down trough Old Mill Park

Old Mill Park has a little stream that runs through it that you will be passing as you travel along Cascade Drive.  At the end of Old Mill Park, make a right onto Cascade Drive.

Traveling through Old Mill Park

Make a right at the intersection with Cascade Drive

Follow narrow Cascade Drive through the redwoods.  Stop to enjoy the views of the redwoods and the stream on your right through the last relatively flat section of this route.

A narrow road takes you through the woods

At the intersection of Cascade Drive and Marion, make a left at Marion Avenue.  This is beginning of the hill climbing.

Make a left at Marion and…

…let the hill climbing begin

Keep left on Marion Avenue at the intersection of Marion and Monte Vista.

Make a left to follow Marion when you get to this intersection with Monte Vista

Follow Marion’s winding path up the mountain.


After following Marion for a bit, you will arrive at the intersection with Millside Lane, which looks like this…

Y-Intersection with Millside Lane

Keep to the right and keep on climbing.  We made the mistake of going to the left the first time we did the climb.  The road dead ends at a home about a quarter of a mile down the way, which means more climbing to get back to this intersection.

Keep on going up

Marion Avenue will keep climbing until just before you reach the intersection with Edgewood Avenue.

Edgewood Avenue to Panoramic Highway

Once you reach the intersection with Edgewood Drive, make a right for more hills.

 

Though your route along Edgewood is only a little over a quarter mile, it is steep.

After a quarter mile along Edgewood Drive, you’ll come to the intersection with Sequoia Valley Road.  Follow the natural curve of the road to the left and onto Sequoia Valley Road.  This intersection has a wide shoulder under the green sign (pictured below) which is a good place to take a break from the climbing and get some pictures.

Keep left on Sequoia Valley Road

Follow Sequoia Valley as it climbs through the homes.  Be careful at this point as the car traffic begins to increase.  This is one of the paths that cars take to Mt. Tam, Muir Woods and Stinson Beach as well.

Starting with Edgewood Drive and Sequoia Valley Road, this is a main path for cars to Mt. Tam, Muir Woods and Stinson Beach

There are many picturesque views as you climb Sequoia Valley Road.  Just remember to pull over to a safe place to take them, as the road can be narrow and cars are more frequent on this part of the journey.

View along Sequoia Valley Road

Sequoia Valley winds up the mountain

The route along Sequoia Valley is about 0.75 miles long and mostly climbing.  There are mile markers along the way to let you know how far you’ve going.  You known you’re getting close to the end when you see the gap in the trees and the mirror on the telephone pole on the left hand side of the road.

Bikers take this route both to and from Mt. Tam, notice the break in the trees, you

The 0.66 mile marker and the mirror on the left let you know you

Once you follow the bend to the right, you can see the intersection with Panoramic Drive just ahead.

The stop sign signifies the end of this route.  You are now at the crossroads of a great descent back to Sausalito along the Panoramic Highway, a trip to Muir Woods, or continuing to climb up Panoramic Highway on your way up Mount Tamalpais and beyond.

Whether this is your first trip up the mountain, or you are seeing how far you can go up the mountain in stages, this is one of the most rewarding climbs you’ll have in the Bay Area.  Very few views can compete with those you see from Panoramic Highway.

The further you travel along Panoramic Highway, the more it lives up to its name.  As you approach the Pacific Ocean, there are switchbacks reminiscent of the Alpine car chase scenes in James Bond films with views to match.  The route to Panoramic Highway isn’t only for those seeking to climb Mt. Tam, it’s for everyone who wants a challenge with a fitting reward.  The reward for climbing in the Bay Area is both in spectacular views and amazing descents.  The higher your go, the better the views and the longer the descent back to Earth.

Here are the Route Directions, print them to take them along with you

Trails: RIDIN’ DIRTY – Cycling San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito and Marin A Preview of Great Things to Come from WeLikeToBike.com


Do you wonder what it’s like to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge? Ride down Alexander Avenue into Sausalito? Or experience the sweeping curves and final descent in the back of Tiburon? Or are you looking to rent a bike on your San Francisco vacation, but don’t know what to expect?

Well look no further! No matter your interest or experience level, WeLikeToBike.com takes you along for the ride! WeLikeToBike.com has stepped up to bring you videos shot on GoPro HERO HD helmet cam of the trails we like to bike best!

Watch us RIDIN’ DIRTY down our favorite descents, expertly navigating through tourist traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and along the Embarcadero with cars, vans, buses, bikes and the like and other great things to come.

CHECK BACK FOR MORE! As we post more videos of the best in California cycling.