The Safest and Best Bike Trails in the Bay Area
Although the Bay Area is populated by big cities and busy streets, there are plenty of opportunities to ride your bike without the stress of sharing the road with cars and trucks. In fact, some of the bike trails in the Bay Area are among the best in the country!
We are lucky to be relatively closely surrounded by nature in nearly all of our cities, and even some areas that are free of our area’s famously devastating hills too, so you can get out on your bike and enjoy our mild climate (when it’s not too rainy) all year round with the entire family.
If you are looking for the best bike trails in the Bay Area, check out this list for inspiration. No matter whether you’re riding with kids, with inexperienced cyclists, or with hard-core cyclists in the mood for a leisurely jaunt, you will be able to find a route that is safe and gorgeous that everyone will enjoy. Of course, even on a relatively safe trail, bicycle accidents can happen — so always ride with caution, know what to do if you are in a crash, and don’t hesitate to call our friendly bike accident lawyers if you need advice on what to do. (Consultations with our bicycle lawyers are always free and no-obligation).
Best Safe and Scenic Rides in Marin County
This is one of the most popular rides in Marin County, so it’s only fitting that we start with the Tennessee Valley trail. Over the course of around 4 miles round-trip, cyclists of all ages and ability levels can enjoy a ride through green valleys (which means no hills!) and end up at a fantastic beach. If you don’t like crowds, it’s probably best to try this trail on a weekday or go earlier in the morning; however, even during the busiest times, this trail is a crowd-pleaser with tons of scenery and no interactions with cars.
Another favorite Marin route that allows cyclists to ride without having to deal with car traffic is the Cross Marin Trail bike path in Samuel P. Taylor State Park. The park’s partially-paved bike trail starts just south of Lagunitas Creek and runs for 3 miles, one-way. It winds along the creek, with plenty of access points where you can get off your bike and explore on foot, if you wish. Since it runs right along the water, you can bet this trail is low on hills and is mellow enough for anyone to enjoy.
Bull Point offers a quiet, peaceful stroll, starting at a parking lot trail head and leading to an overlook of the Drakes Estero estuary. There are plenty of cows and abundant bird life to keep you company on this 3.8 mile round trip. The trail is less developed than many others on the list, and also tends to be lightly trafficked.
Family Friendly Bike Trails in the Bay Area’s South Bay
If you are in the mood for an easygoing long ride, look no further than this route that — when finished — will take you from San Bruno to Woodside. Just over 15 miles of the 17.5 mile total are now finished. The Crystal Springs Trail, which runs just alongside Highway 280, can be as long as 15 miles if you start at the trailhead of the San Andreas Trail, go along to the Sawyer Camp Trail, and finally end on Cañada Road. On the other side of the path is the Crystal Springs Reservoir, whose sparkling lakes makes this trail one of the most scenic in the area.
On Sundays between 9:00am and 3:00pm, you can enjoy a 2.5-mile stretch of car-free riding along the final, southern section along Cañada Road from Highway 92 to Edgewood Road. With a 15 mph speed limit and the road open to pedestrians, runners, and cyclists, this route is as family-friendly and gorgeous as they come.
Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail
Craving some sweeping ocean views without the killer climb up the Bay Area’s meanest hills? Visit Half Moon Bay’s 10-mile roundtrip Coastal Trail, which runs between Pillar Point Harbor and Poplar Street. This easy trail is paved the entire way, and affords cyclists incredible views and a low-key ride — with plenty of opportunities to hop off the bike and hike down to the beach too.
The Simplest Scenic Ride in the Bay Area
Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco’s mean streets aren’t for the faint of heart cyclist. But taking the Golden Gate Bridge out of San Francisco and into Sausalito is an incredibly easy bike ride that give cyclists some of the best possible views of the city out there. Start at the Golden Gate Promenade and head into the tunnel to the bike lane across the bridge. Walled off from car traffic, the bike lane will allow you to go at your own pace as you enjoy 360-degree views of the city, the Marin headlands, and the ocean. (Be sure to signal and pull over to the side if you want to stop and take in the views, so you don’t cause a crash.) Take the bike lane back home, or catch a ferry back to the city from Sausalito. Again, if you want to avoid crowds, go early or on a weekend.
Easy East Bay Bike Trails for the Whole Family
Riding along this enormous lake means an easy, relatively flat path with scenic water views the whole way. If you’re riding with kids or you’re just in the mood for a mellow ride, you can ride this 6-mile out-and-back trail without worrying about busy car traffic or other hazards in your way. About 1.5 miles down the trail, it turns from paved road to dirt, so simply turn around here if you don’t like unpaved terrain; however, even the dirt path is friendly and flat, and continuing on will allow you to reach some of the best views in the whole park.
The East Shore Trail in Temescal Regional Recreation Area is a paved bicycle path that goes along the east side of the park. This leisurely trail is great for the whole family. You’ll forget how close you are to the bustling city while along the tranquil lake. Birds such as Canada geese, cormorants, kingfishers, and various types of ducks frequent the lake, and the park has plenty of picnicking areas for after your ride.
Even when riding on trails where you aren’t likely to interact with cars, its always still a good idea to wear a helmet. If you are on a trail also used by pedestrians, keep a careful eye out and yield to them. If overtaking a pedestrian, give a friendly shout (“on your left!”) to announce your presence. If you’re sharing a trail with horseback riders too, keep in mind that horses can be spooked by bicycles whizzing by. Approach them with caution and courtesy. Make sure you know the rules of the trail before you start your ride, including the speed limit.
Whether you are a casual rider or a serious rider, we hope that these bike trails will satisfy your search for the best bike trails in the San Francisco Bay Area.