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A cyclist stops to admire the Golden Gate Bridge ©  Danny Grajalez Perez y Soto
A cyclist stops to admire the Golden Gate Bridge © Danny Grajalez Perez y Soto

The Top Scenic San Francisco and Marin Cycling Spots

Picture of Danielle Chemtob
Updated: 9 February 2017
The San Francisco Bay Area is well-known for its biking culture, with hordes of cyclists sharing the road with cars on the city’s busy streets every day. But with an overwhelming number of bike trails to choose from, it can often be hard to know where to go, especially outside of the city itself. Below are seven bike rides in San Francisco and Marin County that offer some of the most scenic views anywhere.

Tiburon Historic Trail

This scenic ride along Richardson Bay offers stunning views of Sausalito and the Golden Gate Bridge. Start at Blackie’s Pasture, a park that was formerly the home of Tiburon’s beloved horse, Blackie. Ride along the paved path located on the site of old railroad tracks, and along the water past McKegney Field, a popular soccer spot with locals. Around the second mile, the path reaches Tiburon Boulevard. At this point, riders can either continue onto the busy street in the bike lane, or loop around through Belvedere, offering more Bay views through one of the Bay Area’s most exclusive neighborhoods. Both routes end in downtown Tiburon at the ferry terminal, where there’s plenty of shops and waterfront restaurants to explore on Main Street.

Tiburon Blvd, Tiburon, CA 94920, United States

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Tiburon © Olivier Bruchez/Flickr

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Tiburon © Olivier Bruchez/Flickr

Angel Island

This island getaway free of development is the perfect day trip for a family bike ride. Angel Island State Park is the largest natural island in the Bay, and there’s no better way to experience it than with a set of wheels. Bring your bikes on the ferry from either Tiburon, Alameda or San Francisco, or rent them once you get to the island. Once on the island, take the nearly six-mile Perimeter Trail around the island, offering a stunning ride along the water with sweeping views. The trail starts at Ayala Cove, where all the ferries drop visitors off. During the ride, make sure to stop to check out the U.S. Immigration Station, which tells the story of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Asia who passed through the station.

Sunset Tr, Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920, USA

A view of Angel Island from afar © Franco Folini/Flickr

A view of Angel Island from afar © Franco Folini/Flickr

The Presidio and the Marina Waterfront

This beautiful grassy area and beach along the water is popular with locals and tourists alike. For a beautiful bike ride, head along the San Francisco Bay Trail from Fort Mason to Fort Point. Bike past the Marina Green and Crissy Field and take in the breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay that just gets better as you pedal further. On a warm day, stop and sink your toes in the sand or picnic at one of the many spots along the way. Fort Point, the end of the path, offers the most spectacular up-close views of the Golden Gate. Situated directly underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, the fort dates back to the Civil War.

Fort Point, Long Avenue & Marine Drive, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA

Fort Point with the Golden Gate Bridge above it © docentjoyce/Flickr

Fort Point with the Golden Gate Bridge above it © docentjoyce/Flickr

Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito

There’s a reason the Golden Gate Bridge is the city’s most iconic landmark – it’s enough to marvel at its architecture, but on a day when Karl the Fog is nowhere to be seen, its views of the Bay are unbeatable. All day on weekends, the bridge’s west side is open exclusively for bikes, allowing cyclists to zip across and avoid hordes of tourists. After the end of the bridge past Vista Point, take Alexander Avenue down the hill to downtown Sausalito, where you can grab a bite to eat and rest at many of the area’s excellent eateries, explore the local shops and of course grab a scoop of Lappert’s Ice Cream at its original location. The ride from the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center to Sausalito is 4.4 miles, but for an easy journey back to the city, the ferry building is conveniently located in downtown Sausalito and is bike-friendly.

Street view of downtown Sausalito © Prayitno/Flickr

Street view of downtown Sausalito © Prayitno/Flickr

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is perfect for an easy urban escape without ever leaving the city. On Sundays, John F. Kennedy Drive is closed to cars, making zipping along this road the best way to tour the city’s largest park. For a quick and enjoyable loop, start on the side of the park near Haight-Ashbury. Pedal on John F. Kennedy Drive past Hippie Hill and the Conservatory of Flowers, and veer slightly off of the road to see the Music Concourse, flanked by the Academy of Sciences and the DeYoung Museum. Head back onto the road and stop at the beautiful Stow Lake, where you can join the ducks and swans for a boat ride. You will pass various other lakes, meadows and playgrounds until reaching the iconic Dutch Windmill and Wilhelmina Tulip Garden. Looping back around, ride down along Great Highway for picturesque views of Ocean Beach and turn on Martin Luther King Drive. Follow that back around, where you will pass the Botanical Gardens, the Shakespeare Garden and the AIDS Memorial Grove before reaching the end of the park at Stanyan Street.

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA

The Shakespeare Garden © James/Flickr

The Shakespeare Garden © James/Flickr

Mill Valley-Sausalito Path

Built on the site of the former tracks of the Northwest Pacific Railroad, this path is the best way to tour Richardson Bay. The paved trail begins at Lomita Drive by Edna Maguire Elementary School and continues across East Blithedale to a path through the Bothin Marsh Preserve, where various wildlife can be found. It continues underneath Highway 101 to Sausalito, offering views of the Bay, harbors and bobbing houseboats. Trek up the hill and glide down to downtown Sausalito for the final stretch of the 3.7-mile ride.

The Mill Valley-Sausalito bike path as it emerges from under Highway 101 © antony_mayfield/Flickr

The Mill Valley-Sausalito bike path as it emerges from under Highway 101 © antony_mayfield/Flickr

The Marin Municipal Water District Lakes

The Mount Tamalpais Watershed is home to nature as pristine as the water it provides for Marin County. The watershed, run by the Marin Municipal Water District, consists of five lakes: Phoenix Lake, Bon Tempe Lake, Lake Lagunitas, Alpine Lake and Kent Lake. For a mountain bike loop tour of the first four, which are the most easily accessible, start at any of the four lakes where you can find a spot in the limited lots. Ride along the waters of the lakes, and watch the nearby green hillsides and thick trees reflect on the clear water. Between Phoenix Lake and Lake Lagunitas, you will need to travel up the steep Fish Grade, but the climb is well worth it for the spectacular views.

49 Sky Oaks Rd, Fairfax, CA 94930, USA

The view of Lake Lagunitas © Don DeBold/Flickr

The view of Lake Lagunitas © Don DeBold/Flickr