Posted in Blogging Marin on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 by MCVB Staff
By Megan Eileen McDonough
Marin County is the birthplace of mountain biking, and as such, cycling is a big part of Marin culture; there’s even a museum dedicated to the sport, located in Fairfax. When it comes to West Marin—areas like Stinson Beach, Bolinas and Point Reyes Station—there’s a trail for every skill set. From scenic stops along Stinson Beach to long cycles to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, here are five of the best trails in West Marin.
Stinson Beach Loop
Ready to hit the beach? First you need to get there, and the Stinson Beach Loop is a scenic, two-hour bike ride that covers 24.1 miles at 3,150 feet. There are definitely a couple hills, but also two very smooth descents that will give your legs a break. The trail starts out among the trees, with some tight turns to navigate before opening up to views of Bolinas Lagoon and the beach. Riders can choose to continue along Highway 1 toward South Muir for a beach break or cycle onward to Mill Valley.
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Travel back in time with a long but worthwhile ride to the lighthouse on the Point Reyes Peninsula. Ever since its first lighting in 1870, the historic lighthouse has been guiding sailors across the Pacific Ocean. At about 45 miles in and out, this is one of the more challenging bike trails, but well worth the trek. Starting at Point Reyes Station, the trail passes by Tomales Bay Ecological Reserve and Inverness, leading all the way to the iconic lighthouse. Keep an eye out for views of Drakes Estero and white cliffs.
Petaluma and Dillon Beach Ramble
Get ready to “ramble” with a half-day bike ride to Dillon Beach. Granted, this is a longer one, at 55.3 miles, but don’t fret; there’s a shorter, 25-mile option for less-experienced mountain bikers. While you’re cycling the winding road, keep an eye out for all sorts of wildlife—sheep, cows and llamas, to name a few. While en route, you’ll pass through the charming towns of Valley Ford and Tomales, each of which has an interesting history to brush up on pre-trip.
Bolinas Ridge Mountain Bike Trail
Ideal for intermediate cyclists, this 11-mile trail (one way) leads from Fairfax-Bolinas Road to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Compared to other trails, this is on the shorter side and fairly doable for recreational cyclists, especially given the long descent on the fire road going northwest. There are lots of scenic stops along the way—everything from lush vegetation on the ridge to meadows and cows grazing. This is a fairly popular trail for mountain bikers, so be mindful of your fellow cyclists.
If you’re short on time, the ride to Inverness Ridge is a safe bet. Starting from the south (you can also start from the north), you’ll drive along Limantour Road to Point Reyes National Seashore. After the first climb, things flatten out at around 1,000 feet. There are a couple more ups and downs that prep you for the tougher climb to the top. While biking the 11.1-mile trail, you’ll see different examples of Marin landscape, like a tree tunnel that creates a canopy-like effect above the trail and distant views of Tomales Bay.