Explore the most popular mountain biking trails near San Rafael with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Essentially, this is a network of coastal foothill paths in an open space reserve. Easy for walking (I guess you could call it "hiking") but I especially like it for its trail running opportunities - if you want to challenge yourself, there are routes with elevation gain to turn to; if not, plenty of flat terrain as well.

You'll get some nice views of the ocean, and you'll get to walk amongst Eucalyptus trees. Marin County ardently fights for its open spaces - this is evident by how "real estate-able" the area appears to be, yet, this open space remains for locals and outsiders (hint: you might stick out like a sore thumb as an outsider, they'll just know! no biggie) to enjoy.

No admission fees. Be ready for friendly dogs and people.

Varied views. Springtime brings flowing waterfalls and wildflowers.

hiking
15 days ago

Beautiful, mostly shady trail that has almost no traffic on an early weekday morning, a terrific time to hike. The incline is gentle, even the steeper parts, and the views are lovely. I missed the switchback up to McNears Trail and kept walking on The Shoreline Trail and had to backtrack, so this 3 miler turned into a 6 miler. Lucky me!

Well maintained. Lots of options. Beautiful. During the week, especially in the AM, nothing can compare (well, almost nothing)...on the week/end, mountain bikers believe they own the trail. Avoid if you can.

Great- good parking. Steep areas and great views. Saw a coyote. Met runners along the way and had a great workout.

mountain biking
2 months ago

A great ride, but it seemed like everybody was going counterclockwise and I went clockwise so I felt like I was swimming upstream.

Nice wide fire roads with great vistas. Great to take dogs or younger kids. Gradual gentle uphill.

The trail is great for a easy accessible day hike. The only downside is the amount of bikers!

Great trail however when I got to midway and tried to catch the fire trail, it was all fenced up so had to hike back same way. Wish the trail was updated.

Good out and back hike. Starting at Big Rock the trail is all uphill for 3.5 miles. The elevation change is moderate and provides a good workout but not a difficult one.. Beautiful vistas of Lucas Valley the entire way. Not much shade cover.

mountain biking
5 months ago

Hiked counterclockwise. Easy hike but relatively long at 9 miles. I hiked during a weekday in order to avoid the mountain bikers. This trail is well known as a favorite for bikers. Still a nice hike worth returning to for hiking. On the day I hiked the final 1.5 miles of the trail was closed which required a walk along the highway back to the trailhead. Total hiking time: 3 hours.

First, a few things:

1. Moderate? Hm.. no. If you do the full 9.5-10 mile loop, those inclines are no joke. And if you don't know, it's the down hill that kills.

2. Shaded? Some, I'd say only 50% of the trail. Still, don't go in the heat! It'll be rough. I drank over 100oz on the trail, so did my gf.

About the hike:
We hiked this today (late July) it was warm/hot, and I had 25-30lbs in my (inadequate) pack since I'm conditioning for a backpacking trip. We went all the way to the end and came back doing the full loop.

The 2nd part of the loop is not very well maintained, and the trail was even a little hard to keep at times. I took a wrong turn 4-5 times, or thought I went off trail, then realized I was originally on the right one, so went back.

It was tough, maybe it would've been easier with just a light pack and on a cooler day. The views were great though and it's great for conditioning. We only saw two bikers, and two dog walkers. Also two deer, some quail, and a small snake.

Trail
Closed due to storm damage

Super easy for kids, they loved it. We sighted deer while on our walk.

hiking
10 months ago

mountain biking
10 months ago

Lots of trail closures today so had to spend part of the loop on the main road, but still such a beautiful area and one of my all time favorite spots to ride.

I'd have to do it again for a full review.

Great little walk with the pups.

Great view of the bay, city and mt Tam.

Nice gradual incline the entire way out. You'll start to feel it but the grade is shallow enough that you're able to keep your breath. Good workout that's not too brutal.

Beautiful- a little muddy right now

on China Camp State Park Loop

hiking
Monday, March 06, 2017

This was a nice trail It was easy to follow and the trails were well maintained. There has been a lot of rain lately that caused a landslide that required one of the main trails to be closed I also hiked Turtle Hill Easy but very scenic . I saw a few bikers and a couple runners.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Great trail with so much to see. Not to hard and not easy. Going to do trail running next time.

hiking
Sunday, February 19, 2017

Even on a windy, overcast mid-February day this was a great hike. Amazing views (East Bay, San Francisco, highway 37 all the way through Vallejo).

We did a slightly different route than the one published, turning it into a point-to-point hike instead of out-and-back. Parked one vehicle at the end of the Luiz Fire Road (on Creekside Drive), and started the hike at the Big Rock trailhead. Overall hike was still ~7 miles, taking us along the ridge for a solid ~2.5 miles. Hike time was 3 hours.

According the posted signs, portions of this alternate route are closed during deer hunting season (some of the route is an easement on private ranch land). So check before heading out.

This hike dies not exist because it is not possible to do the loop at the end. The owner has blocked the trail with a giant fence with cameras. The 680 trail though is fantastic with 5 bridges and beautiful vistas, pines, madrones, bays, and a wide variety of wildflowers.

mountain biking
Friday, February 03, 2017

The trail was re-vamped in the beginning of 2016, and made it less full suspension dependent riding. Less technical and more flow. This is a great week workout ride.

Lots of mountain bikers!

walking
Monday, November 21, 2016

Great loop to do with young kids (just the turtleback loop). Did it at dusk and heard frogs, owls, plus great views of the east bay. Cool.

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