Friday, March 11, 2011


First week in a new city always turns into a binge of sorts. I did this in Montana, too — spent nearly every free moment of my first week in town combing the nearby woods for fun new places to ride my bike. (Here in the Bay area, I'm also on the lookout for fun places to run.) If I was floored by my first look at options in Missoula, I'm completely incredulous about the Bay area. There is a lot out there. A LOT. It makes sense — heavily populated areas tend to spur a lot of trail development. Wilderness junkies would turn their noses up, but it is a great playground for bicycles.

For my Friday ride, I took a cue from a commenter (thanks, MattC!) and headed to Woodside to check out the Purisima Creek Redwoods region. It was a pretty simple plan — climb 1,800 feet of redwood-shaded pavement to the Skyline ridge, drop 1,800 feet of steep muddy doubletrack down to the sea side of the peninsula, climb back up to the ridge on insanely-steep-I'm-about-to-tip-over-but-at-least-I'm-maintaining-2.5 mph trail, loop through some of the muddy techy singletrack in the El Corte de Madera Creek area, then race the sunset home because I didn't bring lights and this loop will take a lot longer than I anticipated.

OK, that wasn't really the plan because I didn't even have a plan when I set out under a bright afternoon sun in the town of Woodside. But that is what happened. I had to stop many times to study my map because there were so many intersections and so many trail possibilities. The redwoods were gorgeous, the air smelled strongly of sweet grass and mulch, and I was loving the chunky roller coaster riding on the Madera trails. (The route was more technical than I anticipated, resulting in a couple close calls and one crash where I endoed over a mud puddle and punched a tree as I flew through the air.) But for the most part, it was a Zen ride — strenuous and quiet. After I veered off the Kings Mountain Road, I didn't see a single other person (besides an occasional car on the road) in three hours of riding. Not one. I know it was a Friday afternoon in March, but seriously, this is a region of 7.4 million people. Where are all the bikers? My theory: There are just more than enough trails to go around.

I was home late for dinner and a run, again — late enough (and exhausted enough) that we agreed to cancel the run. Beat has been very sweet about my biking binge this week, but I did feel quite guilty about it (I imagine this is how some spouses feel when they come home late from a night of bar hopping.) But it turned out to be a great ride — 24 miles and 5,000 feet of climbing on highly variable terrain (everything from smooth wide pavement to narrow, root-choked, side-sloping singletrack.) You know it's been a good ride when you come home covered in mud and blood.

There's a map of this ride and elevation info at this link.

Are there any more commenters in the Bay area have some good suggestions for bike and/or running routes? MattC's route turned out fantastic, so I'm hoping to get some more good ideas. Thanks in advance!


  1. I love the lighting in your photos. Are you using anything particular? either way, what camera are you using? Very pretty.

  2. Here's another great Black Mountain route, from a different side:
    ...through Arastradero park, up Page Mill rd, Adobe Creek and Old Ranch trail to the summit, then over to Russian Ridge and Borel Hill and back down along Alpine.

    And, if you like Skeggs (nickname of El Corte de Madera), you will love this route:
    All of Skeggs, every single trail, without having to repeat anything. Close to 10k ft of climbing, and more if you climb up from Kings Mtn...

  3. hi from spain!!!, nice pictures and a good job,i hope you enjoy looking for new routes.I think that there is nothing more exciting what discover a new landscape when you are on your bike,good lucky.we put your link in our favorites,bye

  4. I'm sick to my stomach with envy. I'm quite suddenly "over" winter. I could put my skis away just fine. That said, I think I'll ski today. Sigh.

  5. Ha ha, I'm with Danni! Those trails look great for trail running, somethng we just don't get to do this time of year.

  6. There are so many great places to ride, nice pictures. My ponderment too as I ride the back roads and trails; Where is all the other humans?

  7. wow, all of skeggs...makes me hurt just thinking about it. the miles out there feel a whole lot longer than other places.

    my favorite ride is to start at gate 8 to north leaf. from there, methuselah to giant salamander (steep rolling single track through the woods) to timberview (fireroad climb) to manzanita (fun switchbacky sandstone climb). back on methuselah to sierra morena to fir to el corte de madera creek, which drops you down to the bottom and then climbs you back out. from there, tafoni trail will take you back to fir to vista point, then it's down resolution! hold on! then back to el corte de madera to north leaf, back to the car. if you rode to the ride, you could start and finish at the main skyline gate.

    skeggs point has lots of cool features. be sure to check out the old growth redwood and the sandstone formation.

    here is a map so that all of this makes sense:

    it's a short ride (15 miles I think) but it packs the cool single track and like I said, it feels longer due to the steep climbing. of course, you could add on more, you have a map! have fun!

    one of my favorite places:

  8. Nice post. Nice link, also. How do you like your 310xt? I'm interested in getting something similar.

    Sweeney Ridge looks like a good run, although I've never done it. However, it's on my list to do--soon! I ran the PRW course yesterday and it was wet, hot then cold, and steep. What kind of running miles are you looking to put in?

    I do a lot of my runs along Canada (con-ya-da) from Hwy 92 or Edgewood Park. The former is about 15 miles from 92 to Woodside and back. However, there are horse paths around there that take you into the quiet, commodious estates of Woodside.

    The latter is a loop course with some long climbing in the middle. For really flat running, Sawyer Camp Trail is a 22-mile round trip near San Mateo. I hope this helps.

  9. I was blown away by the trail options in the Bay Area! Sometimes I wish I lived there just for the trails. (I'm 200 mi north in Eureka)

    I haven't done a lot of trail stuff in the Bay Area yet, but I really love the Marin Headlands. There are enough trails up there to keep you busy for weeks. There's a great one at Rodeo Beach/Ft Kronkite that goes up on a ridge (not sure of the name or if it allows bikes), but it's treeless and has beautiful views of the ocean. Would make a beautiful run!

  10. Jill, there are some fun trails up off skyline in Russian Ridge Open Space and Skyline Ridge Open Space. You can start at the end of Alpine Road and ride up to Skyline. Great views, good singletrack. Check it out:



  11. I love the Bay Area. San Fran is a very cool city (IMO), yet you have all this natural wonderland right out your door, too. A lot of non-CA outdoor enthusiasts tend to have this kneejerk reaction to the very idea of California - "Too many people!" - but those people really just have no idea. There's a reason so many people move there...

    I was out there last month, up in Napa Valley and along the Sonoma Coast, and we're planning on coming out again in late summer for the Shasta Summit Century (+) in August. Hopefully I'll get some time to take a crack at hiking Mt. Shasta, too. Then we'll head toward the coast to give the kids their first look at the mighty Redwoods and the great Pacific Ocean. California rocks.

  12. Glad you're OK after the endo into a tree! The forest looks beautiful.

  13. Jill,
    The photos have been amazing, I thought I would miss your white/snow pics but I'm suddenly in love with green!

    Thanks for sharing your adventures with us

  14. SWEET Jill...glad you got up there! EVERY single time I ride up there I'm just flabbergasted by the LACK of people! I typically ride on weekday afternoons (I get off work at 2 up there) and it's like I own the place! There are just SO many options open for you. I finally ended up bying an area Mt bike trail book rather than pestering the bike shop guys. You have SO much new area to explore that there is NO WAY you will get bored anytime soon, even in the midst of 7 gazillion people. Just avoid the traffic as you already have seen...that IS gnarly! (andbtw: in Mt biking lore, it's not a real ride until somebody's bleeding!) Stay safe and enjoy!


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