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San Francisco Bay Trail

The San Francisco Bay Trail is a trail that (surprisingly) goes around San Francisco Bay. This is a paved, non-technical ride that is generally better suited to a road bike than a mountain bike but makes an enjoyable and easy ride for everyone.

Park: San Francisco Bay Trail
Distance: Very flexible
Ride Time: Flexible
Total Ascent: Almost feet

Check and turn on the bike routes

Overall Rating: 6


The San Francisco Bay Trail is a combination of paved and unpaved bike paths that goes around the bay. I have not covered much of it yet, but I plan to add to this page over time as I cover additional segments.

Redwood City to San Francisco

This ride started in Redwood Shores near Oracle's headquarters, though you can pretty much start anywhere along the trail you would like to. We rode down Twin Dolphins Dr. past a large estuary (the Redwood Shores Lagoon) where a rowing crew regatta was held in the afternoon. After a left turn onto Marine Parkway you will ride past the Oracle executive center (look for the large America's Cup boat in the lagoon!). Quickly turn right onto Oracle Way and cross the bridge that will be on the left. We discovered that this was the general rule: stay to the right unless there is a bridge over a slough or estuary, in which case you cross the bridge.

The trail then follows Belmont Slough around Foster City and out the edge of the bay. This is a very nice ride with lots of birds. It is quiet and calm in the morning and lots of walkers and kids in the afternoon. This continues around Foster City and goes under the San Mateo Bridge and continues along the bay into San Mateo and past Coyote Point.

Shortly past Coyote Point you will have some road riding to do, first on Airport Blvd and then Bayshore Highway (not to be confused with the nearby Highway 101, a freeway). Both of these streets are not too heavily traveled, passing parking lots and then hotels and a few restaurants before you go around San Francisco International Airport. After going under some of the busy ramps into and out of the airport, make a left turn onto N. McDonnell Road that runs past the front of the airport. While this sounds like it might be a bit nerve racking, it is really not too bad and you can actually ride pretty fast through this section. This will take you all the way past the airport and the long term parking lots before going under a freeway (now S. Airport Blvd.). Go a couple of blocks to Costco and turn right onto Belle Aire Rd. Following the rule, look for the entrance to a bridge on the left to cross the slough and you will be back on the bike path riding along the edge of the bay.

After passing a few yacht marinas, you will pass a large inlet with a few remains of a former industrial site. This is one of the places the Liberty Ships were built just before and during World War II (this is a pretty interesting story...average time to build a ship was 42 days and the best time was 4 days and 15 hours.  Amazing!). A short ways past this and you are back on the road.  Turn left onto Sierra Point Parkway and ride parallel to Highway 101 and past a lagoon.  Turn left onto Lagoon Road and then right onto Tunnel Road which will bring you into San Francisco.

Now the fun begins! The end of Tunnel Road is a bit of a climb. Turn right onto 3rd Street and continue climbing up and over the freeway before getting to fly down the other side. It is not really that far or that steep, but it is a challenge for some. Continue down 3rd Street to Cargo Way (just before a bridge) followed by a quick left onto Illinois Street.  This runs parallel to 3rd Street but has much less traffic. At an odd shaped intersection, veer right onto Terry A. Francis Blvd then right back onto 3rd Street, over a bridge and you are at AT&T park!  This is a good spot to stop and enjoy the sights, get a picture, grab a bite to eat or just hang out.

Being a good rider, you can continue your tour through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge or you can take BART to cross over to Oakland to continue your ride. You could also wuss out and take CalTrain (nearby at 4th and Townsend) back to Redwood City. Or you could just turn around and re-trace your path back along the bay to the starting point.  Its your choice. By the way, if you ride back up 3rd Street be aware that the right side does not cross back over the freeway so you will have to use the sidewalk or detour on other streets to get over the top of the hill.

I really enjoyed this ride. It was quiet and peaceful and I enjoyed the cool air and the birds. Other than Tunnel/3rd St. hill, it was pretty much flat. There was very little traffic on the weekend. It was a great change of pace!


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