Mountain Biking on the San Francisco Peninsula and in the
South Bay Area
Rev. July 2000
The San Francisco Bay Area is rightly regarded as a mountain
biking Mecca. In the South Bay and on the SF Peninsula alone,
over 440 miles of trail are open to mountain biking as of July
Maps of these parks are available
from the parks and many are included on the Trail Center maps
Trail Map of the Southern Peninsula and Trail Map of
the Central Peninsula (forthcoming). Another excellent
source of information (including trail/road grades) are the Krebs Cycle Products mountain biking maps,
which are available from many bike and outdoor stores and from
Krebs Cycle Products (P.O. Box 82, Aptos, CA 95001). We
recommend contacting the park for current information before
are new to the sport of mountain biking or would like to ride
with others, you may wish to contact the cycling clubs active in
The public lands in the South Bay
and SF Peninsula are more bike-friendly than in many areas, but
the public perception of irresponsible bikers threatens trail
access. Please ride responsibly and observe the International
Mountain Biking Association's (IMBA) Rules of the Trail (an
expanded version, along with other tips can be found on ROMP's Beginner's Guide to Mountain Biking):
And finally, consider volunteering
to maintain trails with the Trail Center, ROMP, or MROSD.
- Ride on open trails only – Respect trail closures and
- Leave no trace – Be sensitive to trail conditions and
be especially careful about riding muddy trails, which can
leave grooves that will later erode. Skidding causes severe
trail damage and isn't an efficient way to stop.
- Control your bicycle! – Stay within posted speed
limits and always slow down or stop when approaching other
- Always yield the trail – Let others know you're
approaching and be courteous. Stop and get off for equestrians!
Yield to uphill bike traffic - they have the right of way.
- Never spook animals – Use special care around horses,
but be careful around all animals - a startle animal may be
dangerous to you, for others, and for the animal. Leave gates
as you find them.
- Plan ahead – Know your equipment, your route and your
abilities! Wear a helmet and keep your bike in good condition.
Always carry sufficient food, water and other supplies.
Many State Parks allow biking on fire roads but generally not on
trails. Consult the park ranger for further information.
- Big Basin (831) 338-6132: 12 mi. of fire roads open. Moderate terrain.
- Butano (650) 879-0173: 3 mi. of fire roads open. Moderate to steep terrain.
- Forest of Nisene Marks (831) 335-4598: 15
mi. open. Single-track west of steel bridge open to bikes. Gentle to steep terrain.
- Henry Cowell Redwoods (831) 335-1598: 3 mi. of fire roads open.
- Henry Coe (408) 779-2728: 100 (more or
less) miles open (yes, it's that big!). Very steep terrain. Ask
for the free bicyclists' map at the Visitor Center.
- Pacheco (209) 826-6283 or (209) 826-1196:
28 mi. of ranch and fire roads open. Gentle to moderate grades.
- Portola (650) 948-9098: 2 mi. open.
Connects to Pescadero Creek and Memorial County Parks. Gentle
terrain - good beginner's ride.
- Wilder Ranch (831) 423-9703: 35 mi. of
old ranch roads. Gentle to moderate terrain. Great views.
17 different preserves, including Sierra Azul, Long Ridge.
Montebello and Fremont Older, permit bicycling on trails and fire
roads. There is no mountain biking permitted at Rancho San
Antonio, [or - beginning Sept. 1, 2000 - at Foothills, La Honda
Creek, Los Trancos, Picchetti Ranch, Pulgas Ridge, Teague Hill,
or Thornewood]. Only the fire road on Spring Ridge is open for
mountain biking at Windy Hill. There are also isolated trails,
which are marked, throughout the 17 preserves, upon which biking
is prohibited. Use of fire roads is encouraged. See the MROSD
website, contact the MROSD office at (650) 691-1200 or
contact the Trail Center for more information.
- Coal Creek: 4 mi. open to bikes. Connects to Monte Bello OSP. Moderate to steep terrain.
- El Corte de Madera: 15 mi. of old logging
roads and trails open to bikes. Moderate to very steep terrain.
- El Sereno: 4 mi. open. Steep dirt roads, great views.
- Fremont Older: 5 mi. open. Connects to
Stevens Creek Co. Park. Moderate to steep terrain. Very popular.
- Long Ridge: 7 mi. open. Connects to
Saratoga Gap, Upper Stevens Creek Go. Park. Moderate terrain,
some single-track. Great views from the ridge.
- Monte Bello (Page Mill Road area): 8 mi.
open. Connects to Coal Creek, Long Ridge, Skyline OSP and Upper
Stevens Creek Co. Park. Canyon Trail very popular mtn. bike
trail. Moderate terrain.
- Purisima Creek Redwoods: 7 mi. open.
Moderate to steep trails. Beautiful redwood forests. Whittemore
Gulch Trail open to bikes during dry weather only.
- Russian Ridge: 6 mi. open. Grassy ridgeline with panoramic views. Moderate terrain.
- Saratoga Gap: 1 mi. open. Connects to
Long Ridge and Upper Stevens Creek Co. Park. Moderate to gentle
terrain. Narrow single-track trail (experienced riders only.)
- Sierra Azul: 10 mi. open. Connects to
Lexington Reservoir recreation area. Steep terrain. Very
popular with strong riders. Hot and exposed in summer months.
- Skyline Ridge: 3 mi. open. Connects to Montebello. Moderate to steep terrain.
- St. Joseph's Hill: 2 mi. open. Moderate
climb to the top of the hill. Great view of Santa Clara
- Windy Hill: 2 mi. open. Spring Ridge
Trail open to bikes. Steep terrain.
Pescadero-Sam McDonald Parks allow mountain biking on Old Haul
Road, but prohibit bicycles elsewhere. All other parks are closed
to bikes except on paved roads. For specific trails, contact the
park at (650) 747-040 or the main parks office at (650) 363-4020.
San Mateo County also manages the dirt portion of Alpine Road
between Joaquin and Page Mill roads, providing an alternative to
Page Mill Road for access to the South Skyline preserves,
including direct access to Coal Creek OSP.
The following parks allow some off-road access:
Almaden-Quicksilver, Ed Levin, Grant Ranch, Lexington Reservoir,
Upper and Lower Stevens Creek, and Santa Teresa. Check the SC Co.
Parks list of multi-user trails open to bikes,
call the Parks' office at (408) 358-3741 or contact the Trail
Center for more details.
Bikes are permitted on trails at the Arastradero Preserve (except on the
Perimeter Trail) and on dirt trails and roads in the Palo Alto
Baylands. Bikes are not allowed off pavement at Palo Alto Foothills Park. Call (650)
329-2423 for more information.
Miscellaneous Baylands Parks
Generally, bikes are permitted on paved and dirt roads and
trails. This is true for Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife
Preserve, Mountain View Shoreline Park, and
Sunnyvale Baylands Park.
Miscellaneous Bike Trails
Center. All rights reserved.
Please contact the
Web Manager for corrections or comments.