Easy Bike Rides in the San Francisco Bay Area Ideal for Families and Casual Riders
These rides are located in and around the greater San Francisco Bay Area. They are appropriate for casual riders and families. Keep in mind it's always prudent to know what you are getting into before you take little Jimmy out without his training wheels! Happy Riding!
Alameda has a shoreline trail network that offers spectacular views of the bay area. You could take one trail that starts at Crown Beach and follows Shoreline Ave. all the way down to the Bayfarm Bridge. It does get crowded on weekends, however. The Bayfarm Trail is part of the greater Bay Area Ridge Trail and is a great ride for the family. Start at the beginning of Bayfarm (a bicycle bridge will go under the car bridge and start you off) and ride the trail along the shoreline all the way around the island. The trail is actually two paths of pavement and dirt running parallel along each other and the shore, giving you an incredible view of the Bay Bridge. Hang a left on Harbor Bay Pkwy. and loop back to where you began.
Bay Area Ridge Trail (or Bay Trail) is an ambitious endeavor to to create 400 miles of paved trails around the perimeter of the entire bay area. Alameda's trails are a part of the Bay Trail and are a good example of the type of riding you'll expect with the entire ridge. The two other portions of the Bay Trail we recommend would be in Emeryville and San Leandro.
Getting there: To get to Emeryville, take 880N to 80E and exit Powell - hang a left, then right on Frontage Road. Find parking and start riding toward Golden Gate Fields. To get to San Leandro, take 880S and exit Marina Blvd. - hang a right to the Marina. Find the paved path and head south.
Point Reyes is a perfect date ride with stunning views of the ocean and a nice oceanside hike. Pack a picnic with you and plan on an hour of riding and another twenty minutes of hiking to the cliffs of the Pacific. The ride features a dirt fireroad with some hills, but it's manageable even for children.
Getting there: Seventy minutes. Take 880N to 80E to 580E towards San Rafael Bridge, cross bridge and exit Sir Francis Drake. Follow Sir Francis Drake 20 miles to Hwy 1/Olema - take a right. Go 100 yards and take a left into Bear Valley Road.
Angel Island is another great date ride for couples or families. Angel Island offers 13 miles of fireroads for casual bicycle trails and great picnic opportunities everywhere. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the island. The ride is steep at times, but manageable for almost everyone. Bring a lock and helmet for the ride, and plan a picnic for lunchtime.
Getting there: A ferry will get you there for $12 round trip from the Alameda Ferry to Pier 41 to Angel Island. The Alameda Ferry is located at the tip of Bay Farm Island.
Golden Gate Park is a large park with plenty of sites to see - the Botanical Garden, Japanese Tea Garden, live free symphonies, and tons of museums. Riding bicycles is the best way to experience such a diverse park in a day, as the main street is now closed to motorists on Saturdays, Sundays and some holidays but open to all walkers and cyclists alike. Be sure to bring a lock, as you'll surely want to check out the many sites along the way.
Getting there: Take the side streets and find some parking! (Click on the link to find a topical map of the park and streets adjascent).
Inspiration Point/Nimitz Way is a super popular paved trail with spectacular views and great rolling hills. It's a challenging ride for casual riders, but it's a good workout and right up the Berkeley hills. The paved ride on Nimitz Way is about two miles round trip, but can be combined with Wildcat Peak Trail at the end of the mile to add a nice off-road ride.
Getting there: Inspiration Point is located in the Berkeley Hills (Click on the link to find a topical map of Wildcat Canyon Park).
Napa Valley is a great getaway from the Bay Area and a perfect place for casual cycling. You can combine cycling with wine tasting along the Silverado Trail for a rockin' and unforgettable time. The fourteen mile loop will hit about a dozen wineries (and six free ones!) and is flat all the way. You can then reward yourself with award-winning French restaurants in the town of Yountville.
Getting there: An hour. Take 880N to 80E to 37 towards Vallejo/Napa. Follow Marine World Pkwy for 3 miles - take a right on Sonoma Blvd/CA-121 - CA-121 turns into CA-29. Exit Yountville Cross Road, find parking.
Trail secrets: Ride down Yountville Cross Road, take a right on Silverado Trail, then another right on Oak Knoll Ave. Cross Hwy 29 and take a right on Solano Ave. instead (it's much less congested with cars). Finally, hang a right on California Drive - this is a 14 mile loop, and there's tons of wineries along the way, so bring plenty of sunscreen.