As laid out, the ride starts at Embarcadero BART. It can be picked up anywhere along the San Francisco waterfront north of the Ferry Building.
The ride starts on the Embarcadero cycling lane but the adjacent wide sidewalk is legal if you want to ride farther from motorists at the expense of miles of dodging people.
The City wants you to turn left at North Point. It has a signal at every intersection that are each encountered on a red depending upon your luck. This ride opts to stay by the waterfront through Fisherman's Wharf. Also slow going because of all the people, but slightly faster and more interesting. Particularly for the contrast with where you are headed.
After Fisherman's Wharf, the ride is on paved paths all the way to Marin. Passes through Aquatic Park
, Fort Mason
, the Marina Green
, and Crissy Field
before climbing to and rolling the bridge. Sounds like a lot of pavement, but at about 7.5 miles, it is actually a relatively short part of the ride and beautiful.
From the bridge, head up Conzelman Road (mostly a path created by cordoning off the right side of the road). Spectacular views of the Golden Gate and bridge here, but with what is coming, you probably won't want to dally.
At the top, go around the roundabout and into and through the parking lot on the far side. Welcome to 10 miles of dirt to Muir Beach. Fairly straightforward until Highway 1 near the beach. Perhaps the only slightly tricky bit is to head right in the Tennessee Valley parking lot and look for the trail entrance dropping off to the left near the entrance to the lot.
Take a mid-ride break at Muir Beach after dropping Diaz Ridge
. To skip, turn right on Highway 1. If you want the break, cross Highway 1 to Pacific Way and immediately look for and take the Kaasi Way
to the left (a dirt trail despite sounding like a road). Follow this around, across the bridge, around, and then drop to the beach.
After relaxing next to the ocean, head back but take a left on the Muir Beach Trail
, a boardwalk to the Muir Beach parking lot. Take a right on the dirt along the outer edge of the parking lot and head back toward Highway 1, merging onto Pacific Way where the Muir Beach Trail
ends. Left onto Highway 1 for the big climb after a short flat roll.
Not far after Highway 1 crests the ridge, look for the Coast View Trail
on the right. Embark on miles of mellow singletrack climbing.
At the top continue up on the Deer Park Fire Road
, transitioning to a dead end paved park road. Ride that to and through the parking lot, then cross Panoramic Highway to the start of Old Stage Road
. Paved at first, this quickly transitions to dirt. Ride this to the Westpoint Inn. Turn left here for the last leg of the climb on Old Railroad Grade
When you top out, turn right on East Ridgecrest Boulevard and then immediately look for the fire road gate to the left. This is the way down unless you want to side trip to the East Peak (the highest of three on Mt. Tam and the only one currently open). In that case take the road to the right across from the fire road gate. This will get you about halfway to the top at which point you'll have to walk the rest of the way so consider bringing a lock.
The fire gate is the entry to the Eldridge Grade
. Really two trails in one. The line on the side toward the mountain is rock. The line on the side away from the mountain is smooth(er) dirt.
At the first and second fork, go right (if you go left, those are fun ways out as well). At the next fork that comes up quickly, stay left. This is the less traveled Blithedale Ridge. The dirt ends with a short drop left on H-line and a flat (as in really flat) spin through the forest on Southern Marin Line.
From here, drop on pavement and cross over to Corte Madera Creek. Follow the creek/estuary to Larkspur Ferry. If headed to the East Bay, take the overpass just before the ferry. Follow the path through the tunnel and take the first offramp a bit beyond. Make your way to the 40 line stop on Bellam, almost at the freeway.