Bay Area Mountain Bike Trails  by Conrad Boisvert

Bay Area Mountain Bike Trails Guide Book

by Conrad Boisvert (Penngrove Publications)
Bay Area Mountain Bike Trails  by Conrad Boisvert
This, the second edition of Bay Area Mountain Bike Trails, describes 45 individual ride routes, many of them totally new or modified from rides previously described in the first edition. Detailed maps, elevation profiles, photos, and carefully-prepared route descriptions allow you to carefully select the appropriate ride and make it easy to follow the route. Don't wait any longer. Get on your mountain bike, put on your helmet, and head for the hills.

© 2004 Conrad Boisvert/Penngrove Publications. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Bay Area Mountain Bike Trails" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 45.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 45.

Alpine Road is a smooth road with a wide bike lane, leading through beautiful Portola Valley, favored by the many cyclists and equestrians usually found here on weekends. A relatively little-known route takes what normally would be a road bike ride and changes it dramatically into a wonderful mountain biking experience. In Windy Hill, there is only one trail open to bikes and that one, Spring Ridge Trail, takes you all the way down the mountain. While you pass through the open meadows on the mountainside, be sure to stop periodically to savor the views of the valley ahead and below you. The end of the trail will dump you onto Portola Road, where you can join up with the "roadies" for the return to Alpine Inn.
Portola Valley, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 18
One of the most unusual —and certainly one of the most pleasantly situated —state parks in California is Angel Island State Park .Located in San Francisco Bay, Angel Island has had a long and varied history. The earliest known use was as a home of native-Americans. Later, the island was used militarily in both the Civil War and World War II. It also served as an immigration center and for Nike missile defense. Today its use as a state park allows us to enjoy its unique beauty and to re-live its history through its museums and points of interest. The island has no public car traffic. The trails are smooth and the climbs are modest, allowing this ride to be done by beginners to the sport of mountain biking. The sights and history on the island should appeal to advanced riders as well, even though the ride itself is an easy one.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Road Biking - Trail Length: 11
About 60 miles north of San Francisco and just outside of Santa Rosa lies one of the most popular mountain bike destinations in the North Bay. Annadel State Park, encompassing some 5,000 acres of redwoods, oaks, manzanita and scrub brush, has terrain and scenery to both inspire and to challenge. While the elevations don’t match those of the higher coastal mountains and the trails aren’t particularly steep, the numerous rocky sections make the going quite rough in many places. Tricky climbs and bone-jarring descents offer the main challenges in Annadel. The rewards are the diverse scenery and the stunning views. This ride offers a fairly complete tour of the park and includes loops around both Lake Ilsanjo and Ledson Marsh.
Santa Rosa, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 14
This mountain bike ride covers 20 miles of trails and completely traverses Anthony Chabot Regional Park, located near San Leandro. The route begins at one of the rear accesses into the park, the MacDonald Staging Area along Redwood Road, and immediately climbs on a steep grade along MacDonald Trail. Expansive views at the crest are brief, as the trail drops sharply into the valley below. Passing through Grass Valley along the Brandon Trail, you will often encounter grazing cattle at close range. After a short climb at the end of the Grass Valley, the trail then descends and follows a paved path leading around Lake Chabot. There is usually more activity around this part of the park, since the lake offers more activities and attracts families with children on weekends.
San Leandro, CA - Fishing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 20
With its relatively small hills and with trails that alternate between single-track and fire road, and with its close proximity to Palo Alto, Arastradero Preserve is an ideal place for the beginner mountain bike enthusiast to practice skills and to develop endurance. Plentiful trees along Arastradero Creek and around the lake provide for welcome shade on hot summer days. Administered by the city of Palo Alto, Arastradero Preserve is a popular destination for hikers, runners and equestrians, as well as cyclists. This easy tour of the preserve is offered as a simple introduction to mountain biking. Small hills and some narrow trails allow the beginner cyclist to develop basic riding skills without the need to tackle extended climbs.
Palo Alto, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5
Heavy logging of the majestic redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains has taken away most of the old-growth specimens. Some remain however, and the younger second-growth trees are gradually reclaiming the forests, often growing from the stumps of the trees that were harvested earlier. Since 1902,Big Basin Redwoods State Park has protected a large area in the mountains from further logging and has served as a destination for people seeking recreation in the still-beautiful and lush forests. Riding on fire roads and paved roads ensures that no special mountain biking skills are necessary. Substantial climbing is to be expected however, so a good physical workout will result.
Saratoga, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 16
While the Bay Area is not particularly well-known for its abundance of waterfalls, Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park is an example of one that is as spectacular as any. Many people visit the falls by hiking from the main park headquarters located in the center of the Santa Cruz Mountains between Saratoga and Boulder Creek. That hike is not an easy one. Covering a distance of about 5 miles in each direction, the hike takes the better part of a day for most people. Another option is to ride a mountain bike in from a park entrance on the coast at Waddell Beach to a point from which a one-mile hike can be made. The falls are best visited in late-winter or in the springtime when the rains provide the maximum water run-off. Berry Creek Falls is only one of the falls to see. Farther upstream, less than a mile, are Silver Falls and Golden Falls Cascade. The trail along those falls is quite steep and hikers are aided by steps and a cable to provide added stability. This should not be missed.
Davenport, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 15
Running roughly parallel to Highway 1 in a north-south direction, the Bolinas Ridge trail skirts along the top of the inland mountain range stretching from Bolinas north to Olema, near Point Reyes. Expansive views of Bolinas Lagoon in the south and Tomales Bay in the north make the trail one of the more beautiful ones to ride in the North Bay Area. Olema Valley Trail is narrow, often overgrown and usually quite bumpy. Bolinas Ridge Trail, on the other hand, is a wide fire road leading through pastures with grazing cattle. While the trail is a public one, numerous livestock gates require you to lift your bike over a fence in order to get through.
Olema, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 27
This ride consists of a general tour of Briones Park, following the crests high above and around the park whenever possible. Stunning views of the distant countryside in all directions add to the grandeur of this strenuous ride. Grass and oak-covered slopes, heavily forested canyons and an occasional meadow give the cyclist a general flavor of the park and add to the temptation to further explore the many other trails in a later visit. The route follows wide fire trails across hills that are quite steep in places. Trails are well marked.
Lafayette, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 10
Somewhat isolated from most Bay Area cities, yet only one hour south of San Francisco on Highway 1,Butano has retained its charm as a quiet getaway for campers and hikers, as well as for mountain bike enthusiasts. Once the home of indigenous Ohlone Indians, and later of settlers who logged the lush mountains heavily, it now is undergoing a constant recovery as the second-growth redwoods regain the majesty of their ancestors. While most trails inside the park are off-limits to bicycles, fire roads around the park periphery permit mountain bikers to experience the beauty of the mountains from the ridges above.
Pescadero, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 12
In the late 1800’s, Chinese immigrants living in San Francisco suffered many indignations caused by the prejudice that was prevalent there at that time. Many of them relocated across the bay to Marin and settled in an area along the shoreline that was convenient for their shrimp-harvesting trade. Today that area is known as China Camp State Park and is a popular destination for overnight campers and mountain bike enthusiasts. While most state parks in California permit mountain biking only along fire roads, China Camp is a notable exception. All the single-track trails in the park are legal for bikes and this is a major factor in the park ’s popularity for cyclists. The route of this ride initially leads up a steep incline along Bay View Trail to get to the higher ridges in the park. While the main climb in the beginning is not terribly high, it is steep. Once up the hill, however, the ride becomes a very enjoyable cruise along narrow and bumpy single-track.
San Rafael, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 9
Home to Ohlone Indians for over 2,000 years, Coyote Hills is today a unique place to experience the wetlands of San Francisco Bay. Crossed with a network of hiking and biking trails, the grassy hillsides of the park stand out against the flat low-lying land all around. The marshes and mudflats along the coastline are home to the many insects and marine animals, which serve as the food supply for the wide variety of birds frequently seen in the park. The ride is very flat along mostly paved trails, except for some stretches on loose gravel.
Newark, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 15
Car drivers cruising on a weekend morning along Skyline Boulevard above Woodside must wonder what is going on when they drive past Skegg’s Point overlook. This is the time of peak activity for mountain bikers as the parking area is usually crowded with bikes and sometimes resembles a staging area for a bike race. Just across the road from Skegg’s Point lies one of the most popular mountain bike destinations for advanced cyclists looking to improve their skills or simply to enjoy the challenges of the terrain in El Corte de Madera Open Space Preserve. The location of El Corte de Madera on the steep western slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains is what causes the trails to be so challenging. Bumpy, narrow and steep, the trails here are some of the most difficult around. The trails are mostly along narrow single-track. Steep terrain and often bumpy conditions make this one for skilled riders.
Woodside, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 10
Contemporary living in the fast-paced Silicon Valley often leaves little time for recreational pursuits. Most of the best mountain biking areas are located too distant to permit a quick after-work ride. Fremont Older Open Space Preserve is a pleasant exception. Located in the foothills near Cupertino, it offers plenty of challenge and yet is easily accessible.
Cupertino, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6
In the foothills of Mount Hamilton, just a short distance form central San Jose, lies the former Grant Ranch offers challenging mountain biking along wide fire roads through pastures populated with grazing livestock. While the park is not entirely open to biking, this route will lead you around that portion of the park that is. Almost 2,000 feet of climbing on some rather steep trails makes this ride a difficult one. The trails are wide and relatively smooth though, so intermediate-level skills are all that are necessary.
San Jose, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 16
About 12 miles east of Morgan Hill in Southern Santa Clara County lies Henry Coe State Park, one of the largest and most remote of all the parks in the Bay Area. Its remoteness is also part of its mystique. Unusual wildlife is plentiful -- it is not at all uncommon to see wild turkeys, golden eagles, and wild pigs. Snakes and poison oak are common too, so be extremely careful when visiting the park. This ride leads you around the northern section of the park, the most popular area. Park headquarters is the starting point. Be sure to check in with the ranger before you begin your ride to get current trail conditions and bicycle rules.
Morgan Hill, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 10
Henry Coe State Park lies about 12 miles east of Morgan Hill and Gilroy in the southernmost part of Santa Clara County. The former operating ranch of Henry Coe, the park today is one of the largest state parks in northern California and continues to expand as lands are opportunistically acquired. The southern section of the park, while not visited as much as the northern part, is becoming more and more popular as word of its special qualities spreads. This ride consists of a loop around a small part of the southern section. There is an entry into this area near the once-famous Gilroy Hot Springs, situated at the end of Gilroy Hot Springs Road. There is no visitor center in this part of Henry Coe and no drinkable water is available, so it is important to bring adequate supplies with you. Summers can be hot and dry, so be prepared and avoid the hottest days. Springtime is the best time to visit when the creeks are flowing and the wildflowers and buckeye trees are in full bloom.
Gilroy, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 17
While this ride through Henry Cowell Park is rated as an easy one, there is one sizable hill that cannot be taken for granted. Nevertheless, the ride is short and on the whole, quite flat. Just within the park is a visitor center which has information about the park and the surrounding redwood forests. You will follow a paved service road through nearly the entire length of the park and then climb a relatively small hill along a narrow park trail. At the top is an observation deck with views of the surrounding forest. The return back is along the same way you went in.
Santa Cruz, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes what is more commonly known as the Marin Headlands. The hills of the headlands, easily seen on the west side of Highway 101 across the bridge from the city, are home not only to the decaying battlements, but also to many trails and fire roads which meander across them and through the canyons of this public-use land. Long a favorite of San Francisco hikers and equestrians, the Marin Headlands has more recently become a play area for the many mountain bike enthusiasts of the Bay Area. The trails are wide, generally smooth, and not terribly steep. There are four distinct climbs along the route however, and that is what makes the ride somewhat strenuous.
San Francisco, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 24
The upper Stevens Creek watershed, form the grassy slopes of Monte Bello Ridge to the brush and oak-covered woodlands below, comprises the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve. Canyon trails climbs steadily at first through dense growth and then along the ridge as the fauna thins out. Indian Creek Trail and Black Mountain Trail climb steeply toward Black Mountain (2,780-foot elevation) where there are superb views of the watershed to the west and of the entire Santa Clara Valley, to the east. Steep uphill sections of the ride along Indian Creek Trail and narrow sections along Canyon Trail provide plenty of challenge. Be sure to carry adequate water.
Cupertino, CA - Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 17