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TOM WHEATLEY | UNSPLASH

SAN FRANCISCO'S BEST BIKE TRAILS

13 PLACES

UPDATED NOV 1, 2019

San Francisco offers some of the best cycling in the entire country. Seriously, there’s a little bit of everything, including hills, coastal vistas, and flat rides by the Bay. And these are all the best places to hit up.

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CASSANDRA PISONE

FITT SAN-FRANCISCO CONTRIBUTOR

One of Marin’s more challenging (but most scenic!) rides, you can log about 21 miles from the Tennessee Valley parking lot to the edge of Muir Woods. Along the way, you’ll ride by Muir Beach, Tam Valley, and some stunning ocean vistas. Make a day of it and pack a picnic on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean or back at Tennessee Valley Beach (just don’t get sand in your buns).

Not just great for hiking or running, the Presidio is also a biking mecca. There are over 1,500 acres of land to explore, both on and off road. That’s a lot of space to get lost in. Luckily, there’s a helpful map to show you which paths are paved, where to find bike lockers, and all of the landmarks the Presidio has to offer.

Previously known as the “Crookedest Railroad in the World”, you can conquer Mount Tamalpais on your mountain bike on this reclaimed trail. There’s an entrance to the fire road on West Blithedale in Corte Madera. From there, you’ll climb up Fern Canyon Road to Gravity Car Road until you reach the West Point Inn. Stop for a quick water and a snack and then conquer the last two miles to the top.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? From Sausalito, you can take the bike path that follows the 101 along the Bay. When you reach Blithedale Avenue in Mill Valley, use the crosswalk and turn left for the climb up Camino Alto. Turn right onto Tamalpais Avenue and then bear left as it becomes Paradise Drive. Follow Paradise Drive along the waterfront, and you’ll end in Tiburon. Fitt tip: Grab lunch at Sam’s in downtown Tiburon before heading home.

East Bay riders (or anyone who wants to take the ferry to Jack London Square), you can cruise along the wide, flat, and car-free San Francisco Bay Trail along the Bay. Keep going until you hit Middle Harbor Shoreline Park and then continue north to the Mandela Parkway to catch Instagram-worthy views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you plan on exploring the Mission, it’s much easier by bike than by car. Valencia offers a well-established bike lane and drivers on Valencia are good about watching out for cyclists. There are plenty of bike racks for your use if you want to pop into Four Barrel Coffee (you want to pop into Four Barrel Coffee) or on the 1.5-mile stretch of Valencia from Market St. to El Rio St. Tires running low on air? There’s an air compressor outside Valencia Cyclery for that.

History buffs will enjoy a ride around Angel Island, situated in the San Francisco Bay by Alcatraz Island. There’s a paved, rolling, five-mile road that loops the island. You can break off the road and explore the abandoned army barracks, immigration station, and historic batteries. Just be sure to check the ferry times so you don’t miss the last ferry home!

Everyone in San Francisco loves going to Baker Beach on the weekend, and we love getting there by bike. From the Panhandle, ride through Golden Gate Park and then take a right on Conservatory Drive to hop onto Arguello. On Lake Street, hang a left for a flat, tree-lined ride to 25th Avenue. You can’t miss the signs at Baker Beach, which has bike racks to lock up your bike so you can enjoy some well-deserved time in the sun by the ocean.

Every Sunday, Golden Gate Park is car-free, making this the best day to explore the park via two wheels. If you don’t have your own bike, there are a few rental shops near the park (Stow Lake Bike & Boat Rentals at 50 Stow Lake Dr., Golden Gate Park Bike and Skate at 3038 Fulton St., and Avenue Cyclery at 756 Stanyan St.).

Just taking off your training wheels or want an easy jaunt? Start at Fort Mason and follow Marina Boulevard through the Marina along the Bay, down Crissy Field, and turn around once you reach Fort Point. It’s flat and there’s a designated bike path the entire way which makes this a great ride for the entire family or those who can’t bike a straight line yet.

When you want a hilly, scenic ride, head across the Golden Gate Bridge and follow the signs to the Marin Headlands (you’ll veer to the left — to the right will take you down to Sausalito). You’ll keep climbing straight up until you crest Hawk Hill. Brace yourself for stunning vistas — and a heart-stopping downhill ride home.

Starting at the windmills at Golden Gate Park, follow the Great Highway bike path to the recreation area at Fort Funston. Fun fact: Fort Funston is also one of the only beaches in the area where you can take your dogs off leash – there’s not much else that induces more joy than watching Rover frolick in the ocean. But if your dog can’t keep up with your bike, we like packing a picnic and a blanket to have lunch at the beach before biking back (a nine-mile round trip).

This is one of our favorite Saturday or Sunday afternoon rides because it’s a great excuse to grab dinner at one of our favorite Sausalito restaurants (fish or Bar Bocce are always good bets). If you start at Fort Mason, it’s an easy seven-mile ride across the bridge and down Alexander Avenue to Sausalito. You can ride back (but remember you just dropped a lot of elevation that you’ll have to ride back up) or take the ferry back across the Bay.

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