Bolinas Fairfax – Mt Tam Loop

Friday, July 8, 2011

The ride I lead today meets up at the defunct Lucky’s parking lot on Center Blvd in Fairfax. The route will have us going up Mt Tam via Bolinas Fairfax Rd to Ridgecrest Blvd.

We head west on Center Blvd to Bolinas Rd. The climbing starts after a very short half mile warm up through the business area of town. Water and a restroom is available at the Fairfax Police Dept. The climb on Bolinas Rdup to the Meadow Country Club is less than 2 miles with a steady gradient of around 6-7% and takes us through a nice residential neighborhood. You need to watch out for cars coming out from the hidden driveways along this stretch of road.

The road becomes Bolinas Fairfax Rd after you pass the golf course. The next climb up to Pine Mountain is a little over a mile long with an average grade of about 7%.

The fast descent down to Alpine Lake is incredible and riding the small rollers through the redwood forest just gives me an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness.

After crossing the dam, the climbing continues under a canopy of trees; redwoods, oaks and evergreens. The 2 mile stretch up to the ridge has an average gradient of around 6% with some sections maxing out at 9-11%. This back road is really gorgeous! It’s great to be able to get out here and ride on a weekday; not a single car went by us!

We continue on West Ridgecrest all the way to the east parking lot. My camera is going crazy and malfunctioning; it hasn’t been the same since the rainy Solvang Double. So, no more pics! The ride along the ridge is spectacular! The view of the ocean is blanketed with fog and you get a faint glimpse of Stinson Beachunderneath the cover. The changing of the seasons brings a change of color to the mountainsides; they’ve taken on the golden richness of summer. The climbs along this road consist of huge rollers ranging from 9-11% and eases up to about 6% in between. Take the time to look around and enjoy the surrounding landscape, it’s pretty awesome!


The climb up to the summit from the east parking lot is about 3 miles. Restrooms are available at the parking lot and water is available at the amphitheater. The average gradient is around 6%; once you see and approach the Air Force Base sign, the gradient immediately kicks up to 9% and maxes out at 15% for a very short section. Thereafter, the road eases up to a series of very short climbs and descents. Watch out for gravel as you make the final right towards the summit. There are two ways to get up to the top; go for the steep climb up through the parking lot or take the easier way on the hiker/bike path on the far right. It’s really easy to miss if you’re descending very fast.

The concession stand is open on weekdays during the summer and on weekends during the other seasons. Water and restrooms are available. There is also a soda vending machine, bring some coins as it will eat up your dollar bills.

To descend from the summit, you actually have to climb out first! Once you see the lone tree overlooking the city below, you’ve at the top.  The fast sweeping descent takes us back to the east parking lot.

For the next 5 miles, we descend Pan Toll Rd and Panoramic Hwy to Hwy 1 with minimal traffic. There is a bit of congestion into Stinson Beach; summer is on! With a wonderful tailwind, the flat 5 miles on Hwy 1 along the Bolinas Lagoon is fast and sweet.

Watch for the yellow intersection sign; the right turn onto Bolinas Fairfax Rd is very easy to miss, there is no signage. The climb up Bo-Fax Rd to Ridgecrest is 4.4 miles with an average grade of about 6.5%. The gradient increases from about 9-12% as you make the first left hairpin turn. As we make the turn, we’re met by kids descending very fast and dangerously on long boards; I signal one of them to watch for the oncoming car, he swings too wide and his day is done! It’s very frightening to see, but then again, young kids are all about taking risks these days with no worries in the world. Crazy! Less the skateboarders, this is actually a very quiet stretch of road with minimal traffic.

There is a quick regroup at the top before we make our way back down Bolinas Fairfax Rd. Climbing up this road is much better than the descent.  What I did notice earlier in the day was that several sections of the road have been repaved recently and there seemed to be fewer potholes. We should always descend with caution.

We drop down to the lake and make our way up to Pine Mountain before the final descent down Bolinas Rd back into Fairfax. The post ride stop at the FairfaxScoop is a perfect way to end the day.

Thanks to everyone for joining me on another great ride up Mt Tam.

9 people in attendance

45.88 miles with 5816′ of elevation gain

Weather: FABULOUS! Sunny and warm with a bit of coastal fog. Temps ranged from the low 70’s to high 80’s.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>RIDE ON!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


One Comment

  1. Sounds like another great ride you had, here in SF, it was drizzling, wet, and cold most of the day.You write the most detailed reports Nancy, it's like riding along with you and one can get completely immersed in the journey.Keep up the good reports and as always, ride safe.


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