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The Golden Gate Bridge

5 Must-Ride Trails in the San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco's mountain biking roots run deep! These 5 trails in the greater Bay Area can't be missed.

Mountain Biking Moderate, Difficult, Severe

The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge Photo: Joseph Barrientos


The San Francisco Bay Area’s mountain biking roots run deep—very deep. In fact, Marin County, California—located just across the Golden Gate Bridge to the north—is widely-celebrated as the birthplace of mountain biking. While two other locations can also vie for that title, most riders consider the Bay Area to be the Garden of Eden where mountain biking originated.

It may come as a shock, then, that the Bay Area in general is actually not a great place to be a mountain biker. Seemingly around every corner, riders are faced with “no bikes allowed” signs. Of course, that doesn’t stop some riders, but if you want to stay within the law, the number of places to ride your mountain bike on singletrack is shockingly small. In Marin County, the highly-acclaimed birthplace, only two true singletrack mountain bike trail systems exist, with only a few other short sections of trail open to bikes. Riders are constantly fighting to regain access to trails, but the battle is fierce. Across the Bay Bridge to the East, the situation is almost as dismal—again, only a few singletrack trails are legally open to mountain bikes.

But as you look to the south, the situation appears to improve. San Jose is home to some fantastic riding, and the further out you draw the circle from downtown San Francisco, the more mountain bike-legal trails you’ll find.

Despite the uphill trail access battle that mountain bikers in the area face, the remaining trails still serve as gems that are well-worth exploring. The few trails in Marin and the East Bay with high-quality riding, such as Camp Tamarancho and Joaquin Miller, are that much sweeter for being so rare. And down south, El Corte de Madera and Soquel Demonstration Forest are superb enough to go head-to-head with the best trails in the nation. And finally, Mount Diablo—despite not having much singletrack—is a worthy challenge for any rider.

If you visit the Bay Area, with your mountain bike you have to check out these 5 trails!

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