The peaks of the Sierra Nevada have closed up shop. Bright white snow blankets the sunny hillsides in and around Lake Tahoe. So, if you live in the Bay Area, where should you mountain bike? Here’s what we think are the best Bay Area Mountain Biking Trails in the winter to put rubber to dirt.
Inch Of Rain = Day To Go Bowling
Before we jump into the best mountain biking trails near San Francisco to ride in the winter, let’s talk about the rain for a second. As any seasoned resident of the Bay Area knows, the storms that roll off the Pacific are HUGE! It’s easy for a single storm to dump oodles of precip. If there’s a downpour that drops more than an inch of liquid, it’s time to hang up the bike for the day. How come? Well, when the trails are super wet, your tires can damage or ruin the routes, creating ruts and holes that nobody will find fun.
Winter Riding In The Bay Area
(San Francisco, Marin, & Peninsula):
With that being said, here’s the rundown of the best Bay Area mountain biking trails to ride in the winter.
For Off Season Training — Eldridge Grade To Mt. Tamalpais
Keeping those lungs in tip-tip shape through the cold months is key to make sure that once the other networks start firing, you’re ready to go. A good go-to spot for off-season training is Eldridge Grade. A great fire road that is rideable but rocky enough to test your climbing skills. The literal cherry on top are the views from the summit. What it lacks as a true singletrack, it more than makes up with some of the best views of Marin.
Note: Marin Municipal Water District has a STRICT no bike policy on anything that isn’t a fire road, so don’t be tempted to drop into any of the offshoots.
A Tribe Called Quest may have left their wallet in El Segundo, but for winter riding, ASM misplaced their heart in Tamarancho. This trail network just above the town of Fairfax is the elusive gem when it comes to winter mountain biking in the Bay Area. It’s mostly protected in the trees and drains well after a storm. How? It’s all because of the hard work and stewardship by the Friends of Tamarancho (FOT). To help support the maintenance, you must pick up a one day $5 permit or a season pass at the Marin Boy Scouts Of America page. Or better yet, volunteer on one of the FOT trail days. The network hosts a massive assortment of trails from the mellow Goldman Trail to Endor which was the first “flow trail” built in the Bay Area.
Arastradero in Palo Alto
When it comes to a good option before or after work, there’s nothing better than Arastradero. What this city-maintained preserve lacks in big climbs, it more than makes up in mountain bike access. In fact, ALL trails within the park are open to cyclists. This means you could literally combine an assortment of different routes to create a ten mile ride without riding the same trail twice. If you do hit up the classic Arastradero loop, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Acorn Trail, Woodland Star Trail, and Woodrat Trails. Each of these offer up tasty singletracks that are pleasant going uphill and down.
Note: Due to its high clay content soil, the City of Palo Alto normally closes the Arastradero trails for 3-5 days to let it heal. One can find info here: City Of Palo Alto – Trail Status.
Just because old man winter has shown up, it doesn’t mean you have to put the bike away. On the contrary, this is the time to work on your skills, and these three trails will make sure you keep pedaling all the way into spring.
If you have a New Year’s Resolution to get better at mountain biking this year and have more fun in 2020, be sure to check out our list of clinics coming up in the Bay Area and surrounding locations.