Bolinas Fairfax-Ridgecrest-Mt Tamalpais

Friday, August 29, 2014

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This route goes counter clockwise from Mill Valley on Camino Alto through the city streets in Corte Madera to San Anselmo and Fairfax. It heads up Bolinas Rd to Meadow Club and continues climbing on Bolinas Fairfax Rd to the top of Pine Mountain before dropping down to Alpine Dam. The road continues to ascend through the redwoods onto Ridgecrest Blvd. W Ridgecrest runs along the top of Bolinas Ridge to the Rock Springs parking lot at E Ridgecrest. The route climbs for another 3 miles on E Ridgecrest to Mt Tamalpais before descending Pan Toll and Panoramic Hwy back to Mill Valley.

The ride begins with a climb up Camino Alto; it’s 1.3 miles with an average grade of 4.4% followed by a fabulous sweeping descent on smooth pavement into Corte Madera.

We meander through the city streets of Corte Madera on Magnolia Ave to Larkspur and continue on Kent and Poplar Ave into Ross. The jog along Lagunitas Rd and Shady Ln takes us along a residential neighborhood into San Anselmo.

Marin County Bike Rte 20 weaves along San Anselmo Ave through the downtown area of San Anselmo onto Center and Broadway Blvd in Fairfax. We head west on Bolinas Rd towards Deer Park Villa.

Bolinas Rd winds up 1.9 miles on a narrow two lane road through a residential neighborhood on the south end of the Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve with scenic views of Blue Ridge. The climb begins with a short steep section with gradient ranges of 9-11% and eases up to an average grade of 6%. Watch for the many hidden driveways along this stretch of road!

The road becomes Bolinas Fairfax Rd on the approach to the Mt Tamalpais Watershed sign. The climbing continues with an average grade of 6% for the next 1.3 miles up to Pine Mountain. The views of the greens and fairways of the golf course slowly recede into the background of the gentle rolling hills towards Mt Tam.

Bolinas Fairfax Rd drops down into Liberty Gulch and continues on rolling terrain to Lilly Gulch.

The road snakes up under the gorgeous dense shade of the redwoods and fern covered embankments with a series of S-curves before dropping down from Oat Hill towards Alpine Lake.  I love this dark quiet stretch of road, it’s really beautiful; take the time to enjoy the surroundings and inhale the fragrant clean air! 

We stop for a brief banana break at Alpine Dam; take a moment to enjoy the beautiful dense forests and the peaceful calm of the lake!

Bolinas Fairfax Rd continues along the south tip of the lake to the switchback near the trailhead to Cataract Falls.

Bolinas Fairfax Rd winds up from the lake for 2.2 serene twisty miles under the splendor of dense woodlands with an average grade of 7% and a few steep pitches of 8-11%. The woodlands give way to outstanding towering redwood groves leading up to the summit on Ridgecrest Blvd.

The redwood stands along W Ridgecrest Blvd leads us out towards the open ridge.

If you thought the climb up Bo-Fax road was beautiful, W Ridgecrest is even more stunning! This road has been featured in many car commercials with its fabulous sweeping view of the Pacific, the coastal mountains, and golden grassy hillsides; the natural beauty surrounding Mt Tam is phenomenal!


W Ridgecrest Blvd heads east for 3.9 spectacular miles along the infamous seven sisters; a series of undulating climbs along the gorgeous open ridgeline atop of Bolinas Ridge. The epic scenic rollers on W Ridgecrest have gradient ranges of 9-13% and eases up to grades of 6% in between.

Riding along the ridge is my favorite part of this ride; I always throw away all the gained momentum on the downhill and slow down to take in every curve and panorama the mountain has to offer. It may seem silly but I am in absolutely no hurry, it’s considered active meditation!



The road exits the ridge and drops down through the woods out to the Rock Springs parking lot at E Ridgecrest Blvd.

E Ridgecrest takes us for an out and back to the summit of Mt Tamalpais; it’s a steady 1.4 mile climb up to the highest point with an average grade of 6.7% and a short steep section with grades of 12-15%. 

On the climb up, there are several vista points-pull over and enjoy the dramatic views of SF, Marin and beyond!

From the high point, E Ridgecrest continues for another 1.6 miles of rolling climbs before descending onto Old Railroad Grade Trail which leads up to the East Peak summit.

At the summit, there is a new Bike Repair Station located next to the bike rack. It’s filled with the necessary tools, replacement tubes and patch kits every cyclists needs to repair a flat. Cyclists are encourage to use what’s needed and pay it forward by replacing it. This station is made available to us by Courtesy Friends of Mt Tam and State Park Rangers-THANK YOU!

Scenes from the summit: Verna Dunshee picnic area, Visitor Center, Tamalpais East Peak tower, Mt Tam 3D relief map and the new Gravity Car Barn.

Enjoy the spectacular view from the 2571 foot peak!

The descent from the summit regains 250+ feet of climbing back up to the high spot with gradient ranges of 6-10%.

The smashing fun descent on E Ridgecrest leads down to the Rock Spring parking lot followed by another dramatic twisty downhill on Pan Toll to Panoramic Hwy.

Panoramic Hwy winds down the mountain on super smooth pavement under the shade of the magnificent redwood groves out towards Mountain Home Inn. The road continues with a short uphill and levels out along the residential neighborhood to Four Corners.

We drop down Sequoia Valley Rd to Edgewood and roll under the redwoods along Marion Ave to Cascade Dr.

We take Throckmorton and Miller Ave back to the start in Mill Valley.

This is one of my favorite rides-Ridgecrest Blvd is by far one of the most beautiful roads in the entire SF Bay Area! You’ll enjoy the serene climb up Fairfax Bolinas Rd and the spectacular views along Bolinas Ridge. Don’t be put off by the low miles; every pedal stroke is well earned and rewarded with stunning vistas and great descents!

Garmin Stats:
39.08 Miles with 4423′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 2470′
Max grade: 12%
Terrain: Extremely Hilly

Weather: Partly cloudy overcast skies > sunny & warm. Temps ranged from the high 50’s to the high 80’s. N winds with 83% humidity.

Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile


Follow this route for today’s ride:


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