A view of San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Photo credit: San Francisco Travel Association.
Aimee wrote this guest post about mountain biking in San Francisco.
San Francisco, California certainly has its hills, but as a great American city surely the car must dominate? Perhaps surprisingly, the City by the Bay has proven to be a real draw for mountain bikers, mixing paved routes with dirt trails, fire roads with pavement biking, with many routes linking up to give a great overview of the city and its topography. With hundreds of quality accommodations to choose from, such as Fairmont San Francisco, an adventurous yet comfortable vacation awaits.
Trails to tempt, trails to test
For the relative novice to mountain bike riding there are plenty of easy introductions to the sport around the area, and it’s also an excellent way to increase fitness levels and all-round better health. Experienced riders can head out into more mountainous areas to find a real test of their stamina.
When deciding on a route it’s important to check if parts of a trail are closed. There may be many reasons for this, including seasonal closures if conditions have been poor, or rectifying drainage or other faults that may have arisen over a period of time. Even if parts of some trails are closed, there are dozens of options to choose from depending on skill levels and how difficult a challenge is required
Many trails have been created and engineered for mountain biking, whereas others have evolved as bikers explore the more natural environment. San Francisco Bay Trail is a huge network that stretches from North Bay to South Bay, touching on many points in between. Taking one of the routes frequently offers spectacular views of the vast bay, and some of them provide real challenges in terms of distance and terrain. A fair amount of riding is done in urban areas on tracks adjacent to roads, and it’s a great way to get around the area as well as being easy to stop off for a drink or a bite to eat along the way.
Many wilder, natural trails exist close to the city, including the El Corte de Madera Creek Trail in the south, near Redwood City. Terrain is rugged and steep, heavily forested and with plenty of challenging climbs and descents.
Trails with views
The higher natural trails offer stunning vistas of the sea, the bay and the mountains, but in the city itself there are trails to follow that in places display the whole city below, with stunning views sweeping down to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge (above).
Bikers should always check that their machine is in good condition, especially before tackling difficult trails, and a cycle helmet and protective kit for knees and elbows should always be worn. Solo riders should be aware of their fitness levels, take a map and compass or a GPS unit and, most importantly, let others know where’s they’re going. Mobiles should be fully charged and useful numbers stored, such as mountain rescue or ambulance.