Old Railroad Grade to West Point Inn & Muir Woods

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Marin, California
Date Published:
May 27, 2024
Gravel Ratio:
30% G / 70% P
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This was one of two rides we did, both starting from the same area of San Francisco near the Golden Gate Bridge.
The two rides can easily be combined for a longer-milage day if you choose.
HERE is the link to the other day of riding we did.


The misty morning views from Crissy Field and The Golden Gate Bridge are iconic and stunning.
Richardson Bay sites are also lovely as you pass through the tourist town of Sausalito.

The dirt fun starts when you head up the Old Railroad Grade Trail in the Mount Tamalpais State Park. The classic Marin trail is a wide fire road (not singletrack) and has a pretty gradual/consistent yet challenging grade. It's surface is a little chunky in areas, but with wide tires and low tire pressure, it kept things interesting having to bob and weave around minor obstacles. The beginning is through beautiful redwood forest, and then as it gets higher up it becomes more open and exposed.
Near the top is the West Point Inn where you can get water, use the bathroom and enjoy spectacular views of San Francisco, the bay, and the ocean.

We absolutely loved the Deer Park Fire Road, which runs downhill through Muir Woods National Monument and parallels the popular Dipsea hiking trail. It was exceptionally beautiful with giant redwoods and had a wide smooth road covered in pine needles. Unbelievably, We saw no other bikers and very few hikers in this section.

The road sections were also a nice change of surface. Biking up the Muir Woods Road was an enjoyable road challenge and the downhill Shoreline Highway was smooth, fast and fun.


Biking the Golden Gate Bridge is special; however, the magic wore off pretty quickly. The west side of the Golden Gate Bridge is only open to bikers on weekends and holidays, but even so, it is crowded with tourists who are inexperienced on their bikes—especially later in the day. You'll want to enjoy the views, but you need to stay very alert. The bridge has narrow sections, and the crosswinds can be shockingly strong! The areas immediately surrounding the bridge are also very crowded with tourists. You will have to go slow and be aware of both bikers and pedestrians randomly stopping, as well as distracted people stepping into the bike lanes. 😕

The afternoon traffic in Sausalito can also be a bit overwhelming after the peacefulness of the woods. There is a bike lane on Bridgeway but expect to slow down and be alert to car traffic, parking cars and pedestrians.

Do this ride if you want a fantastic day of gravel biking around Mount Tamalpais State Park and Muir Woods National Monument.

Other Notes:

Bike rental recommendation: The Presidio Sports Basement (610 Old Mason Street). It is where we started the rides from which is right across from the bike path by Crissy Field. We were able to choose from a Cannondale Topstone or an Ibis Hakka MX, and both were reasonably priced. (We had one of each for this trip and if we had to do it again, we would go with the Ibis. It came outfitted with bigger tires which were ideal for the fire roads and chunkier terrain on this route.)

Golden Gate Bridge biking schedule:
Weekdays: Daylight to 3:30 pm, east sidewalk. 3:30 pm to dark, west sidewalk.
Weekends and holidays:  west sidewalk is for bikes only all day!
(The bridge is open to cyclists 24 hours a day, but after dark, the gates are locked and riders have to push a button to get buzzed in.)

Take enough water and nutrition with you for the full ride, but there are several places to stop along the way. Notably are: The Depot Cafe in Mill Valley (slight detour at mile 11.6), The West Point Inn (bathrooms and water at mile 17.6), and Equator Coffee in Sausalito (mile 31.2).
There is a water spigot on the Old Railroad Grade Trail at mile 15.5
Vault toilets and water are available at The Pantoll Trailhead/parking lot at mile 19.6
Water can also be found along the Deer Park Fire road at mile  20.1

Bring layers and be prepared for a variety of temperatures as well as wind. The San Francisco side is often cloudy and cool in the morning, but the other side can be quite a bit warmer and sunnier. Check weather conditions on both sides before you head out.

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Laura & Rose

Laura Karpinski and Rose Barcklow are the creators of Gravel Bike Adventures. Click on the About page to learn more about them.

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