You’re itching to get out on the trails but unsure where to go. You could go anywhere but you want to ensure you hit the best trails California offers. Lucky for you, we’ve got the scoop on the best mountain bike trails in California that suits beginners and advanced riders.
Marin County, California, is a mecca for mountain bikers due to its diverse terrain and beautiful landscapes. From single technical tracks to thrilling downhill runs, there is a trail for everyone in this county to the northwestern part of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Stuck on where to begin? This article highlights some of the best mountain bike trails in Marin County that’ll test your riding skills.
9 Best Mountain Biking Trails in Marin County
Marin County, north of San Francisco Bay, is a haven for mountain biking enthusiasts who love the thrill of biking in rugged terrain. With its challenging trails and stunning views, Marin County offers some of California’s best mountain biking experiences.
Whether a beginner or a pro, there’s a trail for you. We’ve got everything from easy rides to advanced trails that will test your biking skills. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready to ride on one of these amazing trails!
1. Camp Tamarancho Trail
One of the most popular trails in Marin County is the Camp Tamarancho Trail. Located in the Marin Headlands, this trail offers iconic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. The course starts with a relatively easy paved road climb and then transitions to more technical singletrack.
As the elevation increases, you’ll experience narrower switchbacks and rock gardens, followed by a nice downhill. The remainder of the route is significantly less steep. The Camp Tamarancho trail is a series of interconnected loops with varying difficulty levels. The beginner loop is perfect for those new to mountain biking, while the advanced loops offer more challenging terrain and steep descents.
The Marin Council, Boy scouts of America, is in charge of everything the Camp Tamarancho, including public access along the Marin County Open Space Preserve. They partner with Friends of Tamarancho’s local volunteer group to provide miles of challenging and well-maintained mountain-biking trails around the camp property.
2. China Camp State Park
China Camp State Park is great for novice and intermediate mountain bikers to hone their skills. With its winding singletrack trails, gradual climbs, and wide-open fire roads, there’s something for everyone – and the spectacular views of the San Pablo Bay are something to behold!
Located in the San Rafael hills, China Camp State Park isn’t huge – it’s only about 5 miles in diameter – but it’s got a ton of variety. It features both smooth rolling terrain and some more technical rocky sections.
Over 15 miles of trails wind through oak woodlands and along the shores of San Pablo Bay. The park is popular with riders of all abilities, with its mix of smooth, easy trails and more challenging technical sections.
So, no matter your skill level, you’ll be able to find something that suits you. And when you’re done with your ride, there are plenty of spots to relax and take in the beautiful views or even have a picnic lunch.
3. Mount Tamalpais State Park Trails
For those looking for a more challenging ride, the Mount Tamalpais State Park Trails are a must-visit. Located in the heart of Marin County, this 50-acre state park offers some of the most challenging biking terrains.
It features rugged singletrack trails with steep climbs and technical descents. The trails here are not for the faint-hearted and offer an incredible experience for advanced riders. Common trails available in the state park include:
Matt Davis Trail
The Matt Davis Trail is a must-see if you’re looking for something a bit easier (although it still has some technical sections). This 4.5-mile-long trail features a mix of fire roads and singletrack. The Matt Davis Trail has beautiful views of the surrounding areas and is a great option for intermediate riders looking for a difficult ride.
The Old Mine Trail
The Old Mine Trail is 4.4 miles long singletrack trail located in Mount Tamalpais State Park. It features a mix of steep climbs and technical descents, making it a great option for experienced riders looking for a challenging ride.
The Four Corners Loop
The Four Corners Loop is a 10-mile loop trail with a mix of fire roads and singletracks. It has stunning views of the Marin Headlands and the Pacific Ocean.
This trail is a great option for intermediate riders looking for a challenging ride.
The Sky Trail
The Sky Trail is a 3.5-mile singletrack trail that features a mix of steep climbs and technical descents. It suits experienced riders looking for a challenging ride.
The Old Railroad Grade Trail
The Old Railroad Grade Trail is a 3.5-mile singletrack trail located in Mount Tamalpais State Park. This trail is also a great option for experienced riders looking for a challenging ride in Marin County.
The West Point Inn Trail
The West Point Inn Trail is a 4-mile singletrack trail that suits intermediate riders looking for a challenging ride. The trail begins on the west side of the inn and continues up Old Railroad Grade. The return journey is very different because you’ll use different trails and enjoy different scenery, including a few redwood trees and some sections of Matt Davis Trail.
Mount Tamalpais trails also offer some of the best and most iconic views in the Bay Area. So, don’t forget to take your camera along—you won’t want to miss out on capturing these amazing views!
4. Marin Headlands
You can’t talk about mountain biking in Marin County without mentioning the Marin Headlands. This is a hub for mountain bikers of all levels, with trails that offer something for everyone. The Headlands feature a wide variety of terrain, from fast and flowy singletrack to rocky, technical routes.
The Marin Headlands is a must-visit destination for mountain bikers, with their sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. The area has a trail network that ranges from easy, family-friendly rides to challenging, technical singletrack trails. Some of the best trails include the Old Springs Trail, the Coastal Trail, and the Miwok.
The Miwok Trail offers a challenging ride with great views of Mount Tamalpais and the Bay Area. This 9.5-mile trail starts at the Pantoll Ranger Station and ends at the summit of Mount Tamalpais.
5. Tennessee Valley Trail
If you’re looking for a mountain biking trail that’s both challenging and beautiful, the Tennessee Valley Trail is a perfect choice. Located just north of San Francisco, Tennessee Valley offers over 10 miles of trail that wind through oak woodlands and along the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
The trail curves along the valley floor as it heads from the parking area to the ocean. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely bike ride and an excellent spot for a picnic with friends. For more challenging terrain, head uphill on one of the other trails starting near the parking area.
San Francisco is just 20 minutes from Tilden Regional Park, where you’ll find more cycling, and hiking trails and a multitude of wildlife. Overall, the Tennessee Valley trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, making it a great choice for beginner and intermediate riders. The trail also offers stunning views of the valley and Mt. Tamalpais.
6. Five Brooks Trail
Five Brooks Trail is among the popular mountain biking trails in Marin County. Starting at the Five Brooks Staging Area in Point Reyes National Seashore, this 10-mile loop has something for everyone. From the scenic views of coastlines and mountains to technical downhill sections and rocky climbs, you can count on an action-packed ride.
The trail follows some rolling singletrack before heading down a steep but doable descent. Be ready for a few challenging switchbacks and a few rock gardens too! It winds through several lakes, wetlands, and thick groves of redwoods before winding back to the staging area.
If you’re looking for a more easygoing ride, you can take an out-and-back route that cuts off some trickier sections. But if you’re feeling adventurous, don’t be afraid to tackle the entire loop – it will be well worth it! The trail is perfect for intermediate to advanced riders and offers a unique biking experience in Marin County.
7. Mount Burdell Trails
There are plenty of great mountain biking trails in Marin County, California. But if you’re looking for a truly epic ride, Mount Burdell is the place to go.
The Mount Burdell trail system has something for everyone, from easy beginner loops to challenging singletrack. And with stunning views of the Bay Area, it’s no wonder this is one of Marin’s most popular mountain biking destinations.
Whether you’re a local or just visiting, be sure to check out these must-ride trails on Mount Burdell:
North Ridge Trail
This moderate trail is perfect for those looking to get their first taste of singletrack riding. With mostly fire road climbing and some fun downhill sections, North Ridge is a great way to explore Mount Burdell.
South Ridge Trail
If you’re looking for a challenge, head to South Ridge. This singletrack trail has steep climbs and technical sections but rewards riders with incredible views of the Bay Area.
For experienced riders looking for an epic all-day adventure, Skyline is a perfect choice. This long and strenuous trail traverses the entire ridge of Mount Burdell, offering up endless views along the way.
Looking for an easier option? The Meadow Trail is a short loop perfect for beginners or families with small children. It winds down from the Five Corners intersection, at an elevation of about 2,700 feet, to end at Shaver Grade.
8. Angel Island State Park Trails
There are many different trails to explore at Angel Island State Park, so there is something for every rider. The island has a variety of terrain, from paved roads to dirt paths, and is the perfect place to unwind from the busy city life.
One popular trail is the Perimeter Road, which offers stunning views of San Francisco and the bay. The road is about 4 miles long and loops around the entire island, making it a great option for a longer ride.
For those looking for a shorter trail, the Sunrise Trail is a great option. This 1.5-mile trail takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of the island and offers panoramic views of Marin County. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a challenging ride, Angel Island State Park has something for everyone.
9. Bay Area Ridge Trail
The Bay Area Ridge Trail is a popular destination for mountain bikers, with stunning views of the Bay Area and its diverse terrain. The trail is over 500 miles long and winds through many of the region’s parks and open spaces.
The Ridge Trail is popular with riders of all abilities, with its mix of easy, family-friendly trails and more challenging technical sections. It is a great option for those looking for a challenging ride, but it is also open to mountain bikers of all levels.
Mountain Biking in Marin County
Marin County, known as the original home of Mountain Bikes, is a great place to start mountain biking. It has bike-friendly roads winding through the charming towns, and superbly scenic off-road trails that are perfect for beginners.
Marin County is home to icon landmarks like the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll have a chance to experience these stunning views and more, once you get some cycling skills under your belt.
A perfect bike for exploring Marin County’s extensive trail systems would be a Bobcat Trail, which was specifically built for modern trail geometry and constructed to handle technical single-track.
Marin County has the best mountain biking trails in California. From the stunning views of the Tamarancho Trail to the challenging terrain of Mount Tamalpais, these trails are great for riders of all ages and abilities. So, get out there and explore – you won’t be disappointed!