Bay Area Bikepacking Itineraries, From Beginner to Advanced
If you're itching for an outdoor adventure in the Bay Area, consider bikepacking. It's the perfect way to take advantage of the region's incredible trails and beautiful campgrounds. It's also a terrific physical challenge that's even more rewarding when done with friends. Here are some bikepacking itineraries in the Bay Area you should try.
Often overlooked by its more famous neighbor, Alcatraz, Angel Island is a beautifully maintained state park with many gorgeous vantage points—and far fewer visitors. Your Angel Island bikepacking adventure begins on the San Francisco waterfront. Take the Blue & Gold Fleet ferry from Pier 41 to Angel Island. Adult tickets are $9.75 each way. Seniors and children aged 5-11 pay $5.50. More seasoned bikers may choose instead to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to the tiny town of Tiburon and board a ferry there.
Once you disembark, you can choose from dirt and paved biking trails that encircle the island and take you up into its hills. You don't have to worry much about sharing the road; no cars are permitted on the island. The most traffic you'll encounter will be the small tour trams that guide visitors. There's plenty of history to see here, as Angel Island once served as an immigration gateway for hundreds of thousands of people coming to the U.S.
Campsites on Angel Island vary in their style, from shared sites to private ones. You can reserve yours up to six months in advance.
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
For the experienced bikepacker, Samuel P. Taylor State Park is a great option. This sprawling state park in nearby Marin County encompasses nearly 3,000 acres of pristine redwood wilderness. The 30-mile ride from San Francisco takes you across the Golden Gate Bridge, along the charming Sausalito waterfront, and through the peaks and valleys of winding Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
Campsites in the park feature more robust accommodations than those on Angel Island. Given that there's so much to explore on two wheels within the park, it might be worth spending two or three nights. You can resupply in the town of Lagunitas at the park's entrance.
If you wanted a scenic short-cut to or from Samuel P. Taylor State Park, use the Golden Gate Ferry that runs from San Francisco's Ferry Building to the town of Larkspur. You'll get stunning bay views on the water and shave about 15 miles off the trip!
Bikepacking the Peninsula
Only the most accomplished bikepackers should attempt this route that starts south of the city in beachy Pacifica and ends 112 miles later in South San Jose. The entire journey north to south takes three days!
The route largely parallels Route 1 and Skyline Boulevard, two of the most scenic roadways in the Bay Area. The views will be well worth the climb. (The highest point of this journey is more than 3,000 feet above sea level!)
Camp your first night in Half Moon Bay, where reservations are not required and a terrific brewery is within walking distance. For the second night, choose between Castle Rock Trail Camp, Sanborn County Park, or Black Mountain Campsite. Reservations are only available at Black Mountain; the other campsites are first-come, first-served.
If you wanted to stay closer to the city but love exploring by bicycle, consider some of these San Francisco bike tours.