The Best Cycling Routes In Marin County
Anyone who has been to Marin County before knows that it boasts some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Bay Area. With rolling hills, sprawling forests, and ocean views, you really can’t go wrong when you get outside north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
One of the best ways to enjoy Marin County is by bike, where you can get up close and personal with the epic scenery this area provides. Many of the best rides in Marin aren’t for the faint of heart — those amazing views from the top of rolling hills don’t come easy — but they can be some of the most rewarding ones in the entire Bay Area.
While everyone has their personal favorites, today we’ve put together a list of some of the best cycling routes in Marin County so that you can hit the trails this weekend and enjoy some of the best cycling routes this area has to offer.
Also known as the Tiburon Loop, this 26-mile loop is an option for cyclists of all ability levels, which makes it a great choice for a leisurely weekend ride with friends and family.
You can get on this loop anywhere you’d like, since almost all of it travels over regular roads between Mill Valley, Corte Madera, and Tiburon — and many people choose to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco to Sausalito to pick up this trail in Mill Valley.
While 26 miles is a fairly long ride if you’re not a regular cyclist or you’re on a rented bike, this route is fairly easy with only a few significant climbs in elevation. None of the hills will take you over 150 feet in elevation increase at a time, and there are only a couple of these hills, which means just about anyone can take in a huge amount of the Main County landscape by bike fairly easily on this trail.
Stinson Beach to Muir Beach
If you don’t mind climbing a few hills, this route has some of the best ocean views of any bike ride in Marin County. This 6-mile Main County cycling route will take you along the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1), which is well paved and wide enough for cyclists to ride comfortably with cars on the road.
There is a steep initial climb from the beach to the highway, but once you are on the highway, cyclists will face fairly persistent, but not impossible, hills until you do a final climb before arriving at the second beach.
Your many uphill climbs are rewarded with fun-but-steep downhills; cyclists are advised to remain cautious and attentive on this road, though, since it is shared with cars (many of whom might also be distracted by the beautiful coastline views). There are several turn-off points to pull over to the side of the road and rest, although you may want to keep going and maintain your momentum for the ever-upcoming hills.
Sir Francis Drake Bikeway
If you’re cycling with little kids and want to stay off roads shared with cars completely, try out the Sir Francis Drake Bikeway. You’ll pass plenty of nature — babbling creeks and dense patches of redwood trees — while remaining on a relatively flat trail that has no interaction with cars. This trail also winds through several picnic-friendly areas that make great rest points or places to stop for a quick snack.
Built on the recycled roadbed of the North Pacific Coast Railroad, this 5.3 mile trail is a great option for families of all ability levels who want to cycle together in a relaxed, serene environment.
Muir Woods Loop
This 13.1 mile loop is a popular route for any cyclist in Marin County, and takes you through the spectacular wilderness of Muir Woods in Mill Valley. While you’ll gain over 2,000 feet in elevation over the course of this ride, there aren’t many steep hills; instead, there are slow gains in elevation that make for fairly easy riding all along the way.
Riders should start in downtown Mill Valley and take the loop counterclockwise, starting the trail in the forest and ending by coming up CA Highway 1 (as opposed to starting on the highway and ending in the woods). This route will wind around Muir Woods National Park, taking you past the historic Muir Woods National Monument and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, finally leading you up Highway 1 along the coast and back into Mill Valley for a scenic ride through the heart of Marin County.
This ride is really not for the inexperienced rider, and even advanced cyclists admit to finding the route to the top of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County one of the most challenging rides they’ve ever done.
But if you can make it to the top, the sky-high views of the ocean and San Francisco in the distance are very worth it. There are a couple of different ways to get to the top of Mt. Tam, none of them easy, but one of the most popular routes is detailed in this blog post by a cyclist who reached the summit and lived to write the tale.
Take your bike to the best cycling trails in Marin County!
No matter what your skill level, there are beautiful views and great bike rides to be had just north of San Francisco in Marin County. Next time you want a scenic ride and to remember there’s actually a whole world of nature just outside the big city, hop the ferry to Marin and try out one of the best cycling trails Marin County has to offer. Your legs might burn, but your memories and experiences will be worth it.