Spring Bike Rides in Northern California

05.10.12


Roll Out

Today is Bike-to-Work Day, and we're offering inspiration to keep things rolling with three great places worth a spring spin. Have a wheel good time.


Truckee River Trail

Truckee Load of Fun

A ride along paved Truckee River Bike Trail in Tahoe City rolls out a steady stream of good times—literally. The 4-mile (one-way) multi-use rail-trail parallels its namesake river (the rowdy rafting season typically kicks off in June), and the smooth asphalt path is a favorite among walkers, bikers, strollers, and skaters. But it's the gorgeous mountain setting that's the real scene-stealer. Rent a bike at Olympic Bike Shop, located near the trailhead. Soon you'll be cruising beside the swiftly moving river and among lush evergreens and fragrant pines. Pocket pebble-sand beaches make nice spots for taking a break and dipping your toes into the water. The turnaround point also happens to make a nice pit stop: River Ranch Lodge's home patio is popular for burgers and beers (note: food and beverage service begins Memorial Day Weekend, but you can still enjoy their patio area now). Ride back the way you came. Keep on truckin'!

TIP: There are a number of ways to extend this bike ride. Ask the folks at Olympic Bike Shop for options and a map. Across the street from River Ranch Lodge is The Crest Café, currently serving food and beverages (150 Alpine Meadows Rd.). Their patio is dog-friendly.

The Tahoe City trailhead is located off Hwy. 89 and Fairway Dr. From I-80, exit south on Hwy. 89 and go 12 miles to Tahoe City. About a quarter mile after you enter Tahoe City, you will see Fairway Dr. on your left. Turn there and look for parking in one of several nearby lots on your right. Olympic Bike Shop is located at 620 N. Lake Blvd. in Tahoe City.

Rush Creek Novato

Rush Hour

Not all rush hours should be avoided. Novato's Rush Creek is a wetland preserve that's home to the largest stand of blue oaks in the country. See the storybook surroundings on a 5.5-mile (out-and-back) bike ride that departs along the Pinheiro fire road. You'll pedal through the shadowy cover of California bay, buckeyes, and black oak and through the open Rush Creek shores. Cattails and tall grasses sway in the breeze while wild radish and saffron suncups color the landscape. Continue past Cemetery Marsh and veer left over a footbridge and along the unmarked Rush Creek fire road. Ride between a giant buckeye decked in spring's pink blossoms and an artful blue oak stretching its crooked, leafless limbs in every direction. When the path splits into three, take the middle one and steer up and through the oak-cover bordering the Petaluma River Marsh Wildlife Area. To the east you're likely to spot swans, Canada geese, and sandpipers preening in the water. Other "birds" often spied in these parts are low-flying small planes from the nearby Marin County Airport at Gnoss Field. When you reach the Bahia Trail, turn around and head back the way you came.

BONUS: Post-ride, swing by Marvin's Restaurant in Novato and grab a curbside table along with one of their notable staples: a hash omelet or a full stack of straight-up buttermilk pancakes.

The Rush Creek trailhead is located in Novato on Binford Rd., just east of the Atherton Ave. exit off the 101. Street parking is free and abundant. Download a map before your trip. Dog-friendly! Call ahead to rent a bike from Old Town Sports, 871 Grant Ave. in downtown Novato. It's two blocks from Marvin's Restaurant (1112 Grant Ave.; Monday–Friday, 6:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., Saturday 6:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m., and Sunday 7:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m). Dog-friendly outdoor seating!

Berry Creek Falls Bike Ride

Sweet Berry Roll

The 5.5-mile trek to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park is a hiker's favorite, we concur. But adding a bike ride to the adventure puts a nice spin on it. This easy ride on mostly wide terrain begins at the Skyline to the Sea trailhead at Waddell Beach, on Highway 1. From there, it's 4 miles of redwood-shaded fire road and a few bridges over the calm waters of Waddell Creek. You'll also be riding through a Monterey Pine forest—one of only four naturally growing forests in the world (look for their extra-long needles and pinecones that grow right on the branch). Park and lock your bike at the rack marking the trail's final mile, and hike the rest of the way to Berry Creek Falls—a 70-foot stunner that flows year-round.

BONUS: Continue the hike another mile up from Berry Creek Falls and you'll get to Silver Falls, a quiet place to stop and savor the solitude.

Drive about 30 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Hwy. 1, going past Año Nuevo State Reserve. Park at the Big Basin Redwoods/Waddell Creek parking lot. The dirt fire road starts on the eastern side of Hwy. 1. Bike the trail (a.k.a., Skyline to Sea Trail) for 5.5 miles. Park and lock your bike and hike .6-mile back to Berry Creek Falls. No dogs.

Ride in Style

The Amgen Tour of California. The Tour de France. If it's always been your dream to cycle the same route as one of these grand stage races, then meet inGamba. Founded by a former pro rider, this San Francisco-based organization is revolutionizing bike travel with all-inclusive food & culture cycling tours that are perfection on wheels. You'll roll on the finest machines available (Pinarello Dogma 2s) with like-minded people—including famous pros who like to join rides—on the most scenic roads, with just enough challenge to earn the post-ride gourmet food and glass (or three) of wine at places you won't find in tourist books. inGamba offers tours throughout Europe, but they've also got stellar tours coming up right here in the Bay Area!

SAVE: Weekend Sherpa cyclists get 10% off any of these tours. inGamba keeps their tours to 12 people or less, and they sell out! Simply mention Weekend Sherpa when you book your trip.

Looking for a shorter weekend ride? Join inGamba's Marin Weekender (May 25–27) or Sonoma Weekender (June 1–3). From the Russian River to Mount Tam, you'll follow classic routes, with meals at Michelin-starred restaurants.

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