West Marshall Wall

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

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This clockwise loop heads out from Marinwood on Lucas Valley to Nicasio and Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd. It continues along Tomales Bay on CA-1 N for the stair-step climb up west Marshall Wall to the top of Bolinas Ridge. The route heads east on Marshall Petaluma Rd to Hicks Valley for a stop at the Marin Cheese Factory. Return along Nicasio Reservoir to Nicasio and back through the redwoods on Lucas Valley Rd to Miller Creek.

Lucas Valley begins on flat to rolling terrain for the first 3.5 miles along the valley floor.

At mile point 3.6, the road tilts up for the climb up to the Big Rock summit; it’s one mile long with an average grade of 7.2%.

Lucas Valley drops down into the valley through the gorgeous redwoods to the ranches and grasslands of West Marin.

Take Nicasio Valley Rd to Nicasio Square.

Nicasio Valley Rd runs 3.3 miles along the reservoir through the open grasslands and valley meadows.

The flat terrain on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd goes along the west side of Nicasio Reservoir with gorgeous views of Black Mountain and its surrounding hills.

Cross the colored bridge and stay on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd; the rolling terrain follows along the curvatures of Lagunitas Creek on the northern edge of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to CA-1 N.

CA-1 N goes along the outskirts of Pt Reyes Station to the open bay meadows along the southern tip of Tomales Bay.

The rolling terrain on CA-1 N continues along Tomales Bay with magnificent views of the dense forests around Pt Reyes National Seashore.

The road goes up and down along the bay past the oyster farm at Tomales Bay Oyster Co and gently winds down into the bay town of Marshall.

CA-1 N continues on flat terrain from Marshall to Marshall Petaluma Rd.

West Marshall Petaluma Rd goes up the backside of the infamous “Marshall Wall”; this is a 700′ 2.8 mile stair-step climb to the top of Bolinas Ridge. It begins with an immediate steep ascent up to the little red St Helen Catholic Church.

The road kicks up for 1.4 miles with an average grade of 6.6% and steep pitches of 9-13% as it winds up towards the ridge-line.

On the approach up to the fence line, the road levels out and quickly drop down to the wooden barn at the open ranch.

The road continues up around the ranch and climbs for the next 0.8 miles with an average grade of 7%. This is a beautiful ascent through the grassy slopes with unobstructed panoramic views of the surrounding open space and hilltop ranches and barns.

At the top of the ridge, look to the west and enjoy the phenomenal views of the sweeping grasslands below and the expansive deep green forests along Tomales Point at Pt Reyes National Seashore-WOW!

The descent on the east side of the Marshall Wall is fast, steep and dramatic! Keep your eyes on the road-it drops down from the top of the ridge towards S2 Ranch with spectacular views!

Marshall Petaluma Rd continues on rolling terrain for the next 6.5 miles; it crosses Walker Creek into Verde Canyon.

It passes through a scattering of ranches and farmhouses with vintage trucks and wooden barns.

The road rolls along Walker Creek through the green valley landscape of open pastoral meadows and chaparral-covered hills.

The turn onto Hicks Valley Rd goes along a less traveled road through a small ranching area.

The climb up Hammock Hill leads down to the expansive valley meadows with hillside vineyards and open ranch lands.

Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd south goes through Hicks Valley with beautiful views of Hicks Mountain and the wide open valley.

Lunch stop at the Marin Cheese Factory.

Stay on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd for the short climb up and over into Nicasio Valley.

The flat terrain on Nicasio Valley Rd rolls around the reservoir to Nicasio.

Return on Lucas Valley Rd under the beautiful redwoods.

The rolling terrain leads to the mile-long climb up to Big Rock summit with an average grade of 3.7%.

The descent from Big Rock on Lucas Valley Rd requires much caution; there are several very sharp left hand turns with decreasing radius! The run down Lucas Valley Rd finishes off with a fun flat stretch back to Miller Creek Rd.

This is a fabulous loop around the scenic country roads of west Marin. The climb up the backside of “Marshall Wall” is definitely worth doing-the ridge top vistas are spectacular!

Garmin Stats:
60 Miles with 3314′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 669′
Max grade: 13%
Terrain: Moderately hilly with a few steep climbs up west Marshall Wall

Weather: Sunny and warm. Temps ranged from the low 60’s to the high 70’s with ENE > WNW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:


  1. Thanks for posting this one, Nancy… i spoke with Mr. Phil and he was telling me how nice the climb up the back side of the Wall was. I’ll have to try it some time!


  2. Nancy, that’s one beautiful ride. Thanks for posting. I enjoy your descriptions and particularly look forward to learning the grades on common hill climbs!


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