Across the Bay

Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge into the Marin Headlands
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The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes what is more commonly called the Marin Headlands. These hills, easily seen on the west side of Highway 101 across the bridge from the city, are home not only to the ruined battlements, but also to the many trails and fire roads which meander across the hills and through the canyons of this public-use land. Long a favorite of San Francisco hikers and equestrians, the Marin Headlands became a playground for bicyclists when the mountain bike came on the scene a few years back.

This ride begins on the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge. After crossing the bridge, the route takes you up the main paved road toward the bunkers at the top and then down the other side to Fort Cronkhite and Rodeo Beach. After a short stop at the beach, you hit the trails, climb over a hill on fire roads and then descend into Tennessee Valley, a major jumping-off point for visitors to the area. Another climb on Marinchello Trail leads to panoramic views toward Sausalito, Angel Island and Richardson Bay, before dropping down yet again near Fort Cronkhite. One final climb takes you back over a hill and down to the bridge for your return to where you started.

Region: North Bay

Total Distance: 24 miles

Difficulty Rating: Difficultt

Skill Level: Intermediate

Riding Time: 4 hours

Elevation Gain: 2800 feet

Total Calories: 1500

Off-Road Distance: 10 miles

The trails are wide, generally smooth and not terribly steep. There are four distinct climbs along the route, however, and that's what makes the ride rather strenuous.

Starting Point

Start the ride at the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge, on Merchant Road very near to the toll booth. To get there, take Highway 101 as if you were going to go north across the bridge. Get off at the vista point at the toll booth, go through the parking lot and turn right on Lincoln Boulevard. Cross under the bridge approach road, turn right on Merchant Road and park near the bridge toll booth.

If you are coming from the North Bay, begin the ride at the north side of the bridge and pick it up at the 2.2 mile marker point.

Mile Markers

0.0 Proceed through tunnel under bridge roadway and head NORTH across Golden Gate Bridge.

2.2 Turn LEFT onto Conzelman Road on the north side of the bridge.

3.6 Bear LEFT to stay on Conzelman Road at the intersection with McCullogh Road on the right side.

4.2 Battery 129 on the right side — bunkers and tunnels dating from World War II.

6.5 Continue STRAIGHT at the intersection toward Point Bonita.

6.9 Fort Barry—turn LEFT on the main road toward lighthouse.

7.0 Point Bonita lighthouse on the left — continue STRAIGHT.

7.3 End of the road with views of Rodeo Beach and Fort Cronkhite — turn around and return the way you came.

8.8 Visitor Center on the left.

8.9 Turn LEFT toward Rodeo Beach.

9.3 Bear LEFT toward the beach.

9.8 Rodeo Beach—turn around and return the way you came.

10.5 Just past last building of Fort Cronkhite on the left, turn LEFT off the main road and get on Miwok Trail.

10.8 Continue STRAIGHT at intersection with Rodeo Valley Trail on the right.

11.0 Continue STRAIGHT at intersection with Bobcat Trail on the right.

12.4 Turn LEFT onto Old Springs Trail.

13.6 Continue through the stable area, heading toward Tennessee Valley parking area.

13.8 Turn RIGHT onto Marinchello Trail just after Miwok Trail intersection.

15.3 Bear LEFT to get on Bobcat Trail.

16.0 Bear RIGHT to stay on Bobcat Trail.

18.1 Turn LEFT onto Rodeo Valley Trail.

18.3 Bear RIGHT at trail split.

18.5 Cross small bridge and then turn LEFT onto paved road.

18.7 Cross main road and get on trail on the far side. Continue through clearing and turn LEFT onto main trail.

19.0 Continue past gate onto Coastal Trail.

20.3 Exit past gate and turn LEFT onto Conzelman Road.

21.4 Turn RIGHT onto road leading back toward bridge and cross bridge back to San Francisco.

23.7 End of the ride.

© Article copyright Penngrove Publications. All rights reserved.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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