A couple months back, a good group of riders (mostly Mission Cycling folks) made our way to Dogtown ready for a hot day of mixed terrain riding. The second half of our intended ride up Bolinas Ridge was a well established route, but the trail for the first half of our ride was a bit more of an adventure. It took a brief bit of searching, followed by asking a local before we were onto the Olema Valley Trail. All we knew was it was “sometimes a bit overgrown”. The first section of “trail” was basically a field of chest high grass they’d attacked with an industrial lawn mower to clear a 6′ wide path. This led to interesting conditions: the tops of the grass were pretty even, but they underlying earth varied quite a bit, with all sorts of divits and ruts hidden underneath. This left me wishing I had some sort of suspension, or at least something besides the carbon fork that seems to transmit all the unexpected terrain back to my upper body.
Eventually this trail weaved in and out of forest, with a couple fun stream crossings (even if I slid out in the gravel lead up to the first). Now it’s starting to feel more like a proper cross ride. With all the Mission riders, it wasn’t too far into the ride that someone ahead questioned how the miles we were logging tracked back to “road equivalents”. Riding when possible, walking when conditions were too rutted, muddy, and/or steep, we eventually reached the saddle for this trail and get some descending on our way back to Hwy 1. First, take a load off, relax, do some yoga, you know, whatever:
With lots of shade on this descent, we even managed a few nice muddy spots to deal with (ride it!). A couple fallen trees slowed us up at a few points, but pretty quickly we were down the hill. After embarking down a trail set to take us to a trailhead at nearby stables, we collectively decided that this trail was a horrible mistake and we just looped our way over to Hwy 1 to stop and refuel in Olema.
From there, it’s only a bit of a climb up Sir Francis Drake and we’re finally at our prime location: Bolinas Ridge Trail. Being fire road, most of the ridge trail is pretty reasonable grade and quality. Unfortunately, this day was a warm one and the long exposed sections of trail made for a warm ascent. Several fences are dotted along the way, so there were plenty of chances to regroup:
The one benefit of the exposed trail was the amazing vistas and gorgeous views that dominate the Bolinas Ridge. With the exception of a few steep sections too rutted to find a good line, the trail is a great dirt ride on a cross bike. Eventually the trail makes its way into a bit of tree cover, which is a nice respite from the sun. Easy rollers in the trees make for a peaceful tail end of the ride. Running low on water (and energy) the group decided to descent down to Hwy 1 instead of doing an out-and-back on the last bit of flat section of trail. And with that, we were off to Gestalt Haus in Fairfax to recover with sausages and beer.
Our actual route in Strava here.
All the credit for the above photos belongs to @itsdanno.