Hilly Rides in Marin County, CA?

  • Home
  • Hilly Rides in Marin County, CA?
9 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

I'm going to San Francisco for a few days and would like some sugeestions on some challenging routes in Marin County.

Anonymous's picture
Andrew Jackson (not verified)

"Just follow the groups of cyclists as they descend off the GG bridge :) For me, it's been a while so I can't remember enough to give you proper cue sheets, but this link should help when you get there: http://www.marinbike.org/Map/Index.htm.

A beautiful, moderately challenging ride is to start at the GG Bridge, ride downhill through Sausalito, through Mill Valley, and then around Paradise Drive via Tiburon. Back through Sausalito and up the big hill to finish back at the GG Bridge. 30-35 miles, medium hilly, gorgeous bay views with every turn. Nothing better on a day with good weather.

You can do the short but oh-so-sweet Mt Tamalpais via either road or trail, which is manageable with a cyclocross although mostly used by MTBs. The trail starts at-- can't remember the name-- follow the signs off 101N, Stinson Beach exit, look for Mt Tamalpais and keep driving to the trailhead. Otherwise the Mt Tam road route is given by: http://www.californiaroadclub.org/races04/mt_tam_hill_climb.html. ""The classic 12.5 mile course beginning at Stinson Beach State Park and continuing north for 4.4 flat miles on Highway 1. Turn right at Fairfax-Bolinas Road and climb 2200 vertical feet to finish at Rock Spring parking lot on Ridgecrest Boulevard.""

Anonymous's picture
hannah (not verified)
good map

It's not hard to find hills in Marin. Mt. Tam to the coast is a well traveled route. When I was out there I used a Marin County bike map that was very helpful. I don't remember for sure whether it included grades.


Anonymous's picture
bike man (not verified)

"Are you going to SF or Marin? That is like saying I am going to NYC, what are good rides in NJ?
Lots of Marin rides. Low traffic if you get north in the area.
If you are looking for climbing, ride to the top of Mt Tam. You can do it off road on the railroad grade, which is a stead off road grade. Or multiple ways on the road.
If you visit the ""cheese factory"", the ride will be good. Do an internet search for cue sheets.
Ride out to Point Reyes and get some local flavor of fog.
Come south along the coast and you will probably have a tail wind. I have done that on a tandem at 30+ for many miles."

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)

"Did you say ""challenging""?

Well, there's a route that can easily accumulate 5000 ft of climbing at 50 miles, with 2 extra credit of 1000 ft each if you want more.

Assuming you start from GC bridge: The only way to go is down into Sausalito, which is picturistic if a bit crowded. After you get out of Sausalito, start heading (UP) towards Mill Valley and Muir Woods. There're really nice back way to get up there. But without a good map, you may want to stick to the main road, which isn't too bad anyway. After some initial climbing, you come to the split between Muir Woods and Mt. TAM.

If you're NOT starting from SF, you strongly suggest you drive HERE instead and concentrate on this MAIN ""loop"".

The Mt. TAM, Panoramic Hwy, Stinson Beach, Muir Wood Rd loop is one of the most gorgeous rides in Marin! You first climb through the redwoods till you reach the top of Mt. TAM to be greeted by the view of SF at distance, followed by an exhilarating descend down Panoramic Hwy with an expansive view of Stinson Beach down below, ride along side the ocean on a stretch of hwy 1, and finish off with a climb amongst the redwoods of Muir Woods. The view, the climb, the descend all packed into one loop of about ~3000 ft and (maybe) 35 miles.

Extra credit number 1:

If, after topping off Mt. TAM, you feel like it you still have lots of legs (and time) left, you can make the loop longer by heading further north towards Fairfax-Bolina Rd. If you start at the Muir/Mt. TAM split, this is a nice addition. But if you start at the GC, it makes for a VERY long ride. You get an extended version of highway 1 you'll never forget! Just keep in mind HW 1 goes ups and down A LOT! And at the end of it, you'll still have to climb back up Muir Wood Rd, which is a bitchh at the end of a 50 mile/5000 ft loop.

Extra credit number 2:

If you're starting from GC, and for whatever reason you want to add another short section (or want to do this alone on a different day), the Marin Headland loop is a nice short little loop (all climbing and descending) that has big rewards. If you're on your way back from the Mt TAM loop, just ride through the tunnel under Highway 101 and you're in the ""Headland"". If you're starting from the SF side, try to cross the bridge on the west side walkway or you may have a hard time finding the way over...

From GC bridge to the main loop and back is about ~50 miles and 5000 ft elevation gain. Add the 2 ""extra credit"", you're pushing for an ""epic"" ride of nearly century distance."

Anonymous's picture
Michael Allison (not verified)
Hilly rides in Marin, CA

I lived in Marin for several years and can help you. Though you may curse the day you asked. Go to City Cycles on Steiner St in San Francisco and get their cue sheet for the Olema Loop. They have many organized rides and many sheets. Don't overestimate yourself. The local riders are far superior to the NYCC A team.

From SF over the GG and follow the riders down Alexander Ave. Continue north on Bridgeway in Sausolito, onto the bike path all the way to its end. Make a left on Blithdale Ave (heavy traffic) Look for a right turn (north) 1/4 mi. onto Camino Alto. On the down side it changes name to Courte Madera Dr. and runs into/crosses Magnolia Ave. Turn onto Magnolia (left) and follow until it intercepts Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Turn left FDB (NW) up to Fairfax. (NOTE: Get food in Fairfax because you will not find anything until Olima.) Here you continue NW on FDB all the way into Olima. Now comes the good part. Instead of backtracking, from Olima, go south on Rt. 1 Pacific Coast Hwy. back to SF. Most of PCH is flat or rollers but the hard part begins after Stinson Beach. There will be a lot of traffic at this point and some of the climbs go on for miles. Best to leave SF early on a weekday. (NOTE; stock up on food and water in Olima became you will not find anything on Rt 1 until you reach to Stinson Beach, about 24 miles south)

An alternative route to add milage - take Nacacio Valley road north (begins in the town of Forest Knolls), right turn off Sir Francis Drake, about 5 miles out of Ross, all the way to Point Reyes Station. Follow Rt 1 back to SF.

CAUTION: Once you leave Olima you may not see another house or human for a long, long time, so be prepared. This ride is about 80-85 miles.

You may be able to find riders at Bicycle Odyssey on Bridgeway. The owner, Tony, was a supporter of Greg Lemond. This shop and City Cycles are the best shops in the Bay Area.

Anonymous's picture
Michael Allison (not verified)
Marin Headlands

There is also serious hill riding in the Marin Headlands, the old fort property north and west of the GG. Very easy to get there. Cross the GG, start down Alexander Ave and take the first left turnoff. It goes back under route 1. From there follow up and down. There's a lot of tourist traffic at the beginning, people driving rented cars on roads they don't know, so be alert. Once in the Headlands, there are many areas with no traffic, no people and no houses, so you have to be prepared. You'll probably find riders at Bicycle Odyssey who know this area.

Anonymous's picture
Michael Allison (not verified)
Paradise Drive

Another popular ride is the Paradise Drive to Tibiron City. Not hilly but VERY PRETTY. You can make a ride out of it by following the Rt. I gave you for Olima up to where Camino Alto (bike path) becomes Corte Madera Ave. Follow CM to Tamalpais Dr (heavy traffic), turn right (east) and follow for about a 1 1/2 mi to the junction of Paradise Drive on your right. Follow Paradise all the way to Tiburon City. This ride has a lot of rollers and twists in the road. To return retrace your route. Camino Alto and the Corte Madera return are good climbs, about two miles up each way. This is the popular Rt with the habs to get to Tiburon City.

There is also a tourist Rt. to which is flat and boring. When you get to Blythedale Ave. turn right and follow other riders to Tiburon.

Anonymous's picture
Michael Casey (not verified)
Paradise Road--aptly named

I've done the Sausalito ride mentioned above. Totally effin' worth it. You might also try the Marin headlands--only moderately hilly but the headwinds, which become the tailwinds, get your attention.

You can see a simple route map here: http://www.blazingsaddles.com/rides.html

Anonymous's picture
Eric Faber (not verified)
Re:Hilly Rides in Marin - Thanks for all the help

To all of you who wrtote with suggestions Re: rides in Marin. A big thank you to all. I have decided to climb Mt.Tam tomorrow (Weather Permitting)Mon. 12/13

Thanks again!

cycling trips