A point-to-point ride that takes advantage of the Bay Area's unique interweave of open space and mass transit. The ride name is a portmanteau of "Shangri-la" and "not" to hint at the varied experiences along it.
The first by no means refers to the technical quality of the ride. Rather the amazing experience on the plateau in the spring when the green of the savannah is intense, the winds are soft, and the topography blocks out almost all view of buildings and pavement. The second ("not") variously refers to what it can feel like in the late summer scald when the grass is dead. Also the McMansion tract homes at its midpoint that are still being developed in phases as of this writing and the associated golf course the ride passes through. A vision of what the entire Bay Area could have become from sea to Central Valley if its citizens had not voted repeatedly over the last century to preserve so much open space.
The latter half of the ride includes a drop into a deep shaded canyon, a climb out, and then a nice drop through another deep shaded canyon after a bit of a traverse. The trick of this ride is to hit it about a month after the last rain when growth is in full force but the trails are dry enough but not so dry as to be bone rattling on the portions open to cattle.
Otherwise late fall when the temperatures have dropped and the hoof prints have been beaten down some. Unless you like your MTB combined with a trip to the sauna in which case go for late summer.
This ride is the easiest from starting point to dirt of any from BART. Head north from the station, right into the cycling lane, left into the cycling lane where that road ends, first right, and a short distance then through the gate to the left. You're on dirt.
Climb a bit and head left at the junction. Stay left to climb the front ridge, which affords expansive views. You can stay on the moderate grade around the knolls or track over them. After a mile, a forested pond comes into view in the crease to the right. Take the first right down to it.
Take a left at the bottom and ride in front of the pond to the parking lot. Head through the lot staying right and exit on dirt headed up the canyon. Look for the signpost for the Newt Pond Trail
a bit after a quarter mile. Take that singletrack to the right. Crossing the creek, the trail is often not apparent on the other side. As the grassy slope is steep, you may choose to hike-a-bike up a bit until you see the trail going off to the right through a cleft in the trees.
If you like climbing, Newt Pond Trail
is a switchback singletrack challenge. Otherwise, ride what you like, hike-a-bike the rest, and enjoy the ascending views.
At the top, go left on the fire road. After rolling up and along the main ridge for a bit enjoying even more expansive views, turn left on Whipsnake Trail
. This gently rolling part of the ride has the most remote feel because it is enveloped in open hills.
When you almost reach the far ridge, take the left onto the Chabot-to-Garin Regional Trail
. This gently traverses up to some water tanks then along the ridgecrest a short distance on gravel road before hitting paved road. Strange place to find a paved road, it is a harbinger of what is to come. In succession, it passes a corporation yard, the outer limits of a golf course, a country club, and houses. At the country club parking lot, you have the option to ride just off the pavement on a trail. You can also stay on the pavement. If so, stay right.
Leaving the country club pass onto a paved golf course path of all things. Just after the fairway, with a green at the far end, there is a trail post where you need to turn right. This climbs to a short knoll then along a drainage divide saddle and up to a peak with a radio tower. The trail goes right before the tower enclosure and around its back side. The first of two big drops follows. This one on Open Spur Ridge.
After a traverse out from the first drop, the next drop starts down a slope then turns right on down a wooded side canyon to turn right again joining a main canyon, getting deeper and darker. The road abruptly turns left across the creek and climbs stiffly up the canyon wall via switchback after a stretch. The surface is deep powder from four-wheel traffic in the fall so power to you if you figure out a way to climb it.
After cresting the canyon wall, the route gently climbs into a long traverse. Take the left at a junction on a spur ridge saddle. This drops the fall line into the canyon. There is a gate at the bottom so pull up short before hitting it.
After a short track across the canyon bottom, turn right for a singletrack roll down canyon. Crossing under a road bridge, you may not even notice because it is so high, the route pops on a fire road. Continue straight for the stiff climb up and over a street with houses. Then drop down and across another side canyon climbing back up to a plateau with more houses. Turn right at the street turn, then left either on the path through the park or the road. At the far end, take the path off the turn in the road.
At the next road, go left on the gravel path along it. After a bit, it drops left away from the road. At the bottom, go left and then look for the right around the curve. Take that staying right at junctions until under the freeway. Cross the bridge, go left, cross another, then climb the driveway to the road. Climb left then right. Left at the signal for a long roll to a left on Redwood Road to BART.