Posted in Best Marin Attractions on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 by MCVB Staff
By Joe Kukura
Family bike riding fun doesn’t get any better than in the “birthplace of mountain biking,” and scenic Marin County offers riders plenty of places to shift gears toward its beginner-friendly biking trails.
Mount Tamalpais’ Eldridge Grade is Marin’s most famous off-road trail, but that’s a challenging ride best suited for experienced mountain bikers. The whole family can enjoy some easier paths and trails, whether your crew prefers mountain biking or road cycling, or even a ride across one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.
Golden Gate Bridge
Yes, you can bike across the Golden Gate Bridge in both directions from Marin County and San Francisco, to enjoy iconic Golden Gate Bridge lookout points like the Marin Headlands/Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The bridge ride itself is only about two miles each way, with parking lots on both sides, and bikers and pedestrians get their own lane separate from car traffic. Conditions can get windy on that coastal Pacific Ocean bridge, so layer the family up with clothing. Many riders like to take the Golden Gate Ferry ride back across, though bike reservations are required for that very scenic ride.
China Camp State Park
Once a Gold Rush shrimp fishing village, China Camp State Park near San Rafael is now a 1,640-acre park with some of Marin County’s most popular mountain biking trails. The Shoreline Trail is the best choice here for beginners, with panoramic views across the San Pablo Bay.
Bear Valley Trail
Bike alongside horseback riders on the unpaved Bear Valley Trail, one of the most family-friendly bike trails at the Point Reyes National Seashore. The Bear Valley Visitors Center has all the information you need to navigate all the park’s trails of coastline, waterfalls and chances to watch the whales. Nearby Point Reyes Outdoors offers bike rentals for every age.
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
You’ll find both paved and unpaved trails at Samuel P. Taylor State Park, where kids can bike through the famed California redwood forests. Just 15 minutes west of San Rafael, this park will give you many glimpses of Marin County wildlife, whether its furry friends on land or the water critters in the creeks.
Stafford Lake Bike Park
Novato’s Stafford Lake Bike Park is Marin County’s only park dedicated exclusively to biking, with activities for every skill level, from a beginner zone to daredevil ramps and jumps. Entrance to the bike park is free, but there is a small parking fee to the larger 139-acre Stafford Lake Park, a popular spot for fishing and frisbee golf.
Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area that covers the beautiful outdoor preserves on both sides of the Golden Gate Bridge, Tennessee Valley is a secret gem within the Marin Headlands coastal park. This northern side attraction is very popular for its majestic Pacific Ocean mountain views, and you’ll get a look at one of the best at the midpoint of this ride over paved and unpaved trails.
Don’t forget that California has a bike helmet requirement for everyone 18 and under, and remember to bring water along for the ride! The kids will also love to fill up at Marin County restaurants, and there are many places to stay to make the trip complete. So ride full speed for a family biking excursion to Marin County, where popular bike trails and breathtaking scenery go together in tandem.
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