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Stinson Beach via Panoramic Highway

If our last ride was dedicated to avoiding the heat, this one embraces it; it's a final hurrah to summer, taking in some spectacular coastline and a lot of sunshine.

Distance: 40 miles

Elevation: 3.5k

Route map:

Strava version:

Good and Bad News

I'm not going to lie: this ride is not for everyone. There is a lot of climbing to do; we reach the ranger station at 1,500 ft. Large portions of the climbs are exposed; Steep Ravine and Shoreline Highway are treeless. Weather near the beach can be hot by San Franciscan standards. There are cars; weekenders in convertibles will be zipping past us while we struggle up the hills. And to top it all off, the only public restrooms at the beach are, well, public restrooms at a beach; they're gross.

Despite all that, this ride highlights the variety in California terrain: we'll start off in the fog, descend into pleasant weather, climb up through a forest, descend to a beach, climb up seaside cliffs covered in chaparral, and then return to our shrouded city. There are several beautiful vistas, at least one long glorious descent, and hopefully, a decent lunch in the middle. And as always, this isn't a race; there's no minimum pace, and we'll take things as fast as we can while having fun.

Our route

  • We'll cross the bridge and head through Mill Valley, stopping at the Old Mill Park for a quick breather.
  • We'll head up to the Four Corners via Marion, which is our first steep climb. It's a residential neighborhood covered in trees, and is very quiet.
  • The tree cover evaporates as we take Edgewood and Panoramic. The climb gets more brutal here, as we work our way past the various Mt. Tam trailheads. We'll take breathers as necessary, or as convenient to enjoy the views - it's called "Panoramic Highway" for a reason.
  • Eventually we end up in the forests of Mt. Tam. You are rewarded for your climbing efforts with an uninterrupted 10-minute descent down to the beach. The cars can't even keep up.
  • We'll stop and have lunch in Stinson Beach. More on that below.
  • We climb out along the scenic cliffsides near Steep Ravine. This is classic California Coast, with dry scrub tumbling abruptly into the ocean via sharp cliffs. Again, we're exposed to the elements, and the climbs aren't fun, but the views are great.
  • All that work gets thrown out the window, because we end up descending back to sea level by Muir Beach.
  • We begin the totally un-scenic climb out on Shoreline Highway, which is my least favorite part of this ride, but hey, whatcha gonna do?
  • Finally, we re-join the Mill Valley-Sausalito path, and return to SF.


  • Bring sunscreen - even if it's foggy at the bridge, it'll likely be sunny on the ride.
  • Bring two water bottles - there are plenty of places to fill up on the way in, but once we pass Stinson, we're dry until we climb back into Mill Valley.
  • Bring snacks - climbing takes a lot of energy. Don't run out.
  • Be one with traffic - find your zen spot that lets you ignore the two-ton steel beasts rumbling by a few feet to your left. Don't ride abreast and do check over your shoulder.


Stinson Beach can be cramped, but The Lunch Box seems to be able to handle it fairly well. They serve a decent array of salads and sandwiches around the $8 price range. We can eat there, but they don't have restrooms; we'll have to use the facilities at the park next door.

If you have dietary restrictions, or otherwise want to pack stuff that you can't carry yourself, contact me. I am happy to accommodate your stuff in my panniers.

Meeting Point

  • Convene at the GGB plaza, in front of the Bridge Cafe.
  • Look for this guy.

Join or login to comment.

  • brian

    Mad props to my long time biker buddy ZENO! This guy rocked it out on a F-ing Fixie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 27, 2012

  • brian

    Absolutely an Amazing Ride! We couldn't of asked for a more perfect day. This one will go down as one of my favorite moments. Time to update my profile! haha!

    August 27, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great challenging route, beautiful scenery, the heat kept away, and Ian and Barbara are good company. Glad we could accommodate different riding styles by splitting the group, even if it meant missing out on meeting some of the new faces i didn't recognize. Next ride!

    August 27, 2012

  • Laura L

    Great ride, great people. Helen and I enjoyed the route and meeting everyone. Glad folks were happy with enjoying the ride and were not all about racing up the mountain. Look forward to future rides.

    August 26, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great ride with great people!

    August 26, 2012

  • Paddy

    Thanks Michael for organizing and leading another great and enjoyable ride.

    August 26, 2012

  • Ian D

    Quite hard ride, very mixed conditions, challenging due to cars on narrow roads, awesome scenery! Thanks to Michael and Barbara (hope I spelt that right or she'll kill me!) for a memorable ride!

    August 26, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hey Tam, was that comment for Brian?

    For all - the forecast says it'll be foggy tomorrow morning, but partly cloudy in the afternoon:

    We might not totally burn up on this ride, or at least, not until we're leaving Muir Beach.

    August 25, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Are we riding Saturday for your warm-up?

    August 24, 2012

  • brian

    The Beast is back and ready to roll! Had to get the front and back hubs overhauled. Been cranking up to many miles on the odo lately : )

    August 23, 2012

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