Mt. Tam via Alpine Dam Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling






Mt. Tam via Alpine Dam

CA, USA

Our favorite route to Mt. Tam's western peak.

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Climb Summary


Cycling Mt. Tamalpais from Alpine Dam - view of San Francisco and SF Bay from top of Mt. Tam

Cycling Mt. Tamalpais (Mt. Tam), Marin County from Alpine Dam

View of San Francisco from Mt. Tam’s West Peak

California Top 10 Most Scenic Bike Climb

This climb is one of the five primary climb routes to the top of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, and may be the most scenic of them all.  The climb is mild throughout, and as with most Marin roads, it is in great shape.  There is no shoulder to speak of, but motor vehicle traffic is light and not a real issue during this climb, you will likely encounter at least twice the number of cyclists as motorists in this part of Marin.  

We believe that this bike climb is one of the most scenic in California and the US. There are three segments to Alpine Dam to Mt. Tam road bike climb.

SEGMENT ONE: DAM TO INTERSECTION OF BOLINAS FAIRFAX AND RIDGECREST

The first 2.5 miles to the intersection of Bolinas Fairfax Road and Ridgecrest Boulevard are at a 6% average grade, gaining 867' and along a narrow roadway bordered by redwood trees with minimal traffic.  This is a very pleasant climb segment.  

Bike climb Mt. Tamalpais from Alpine Dam - sign at Alpine Dam

Bike ride Mt. Tamalpais from Alpine Dam - aerial drone photo of ridgeline and Alpine Lake

Alpine Lake (dam is photo middle left) is created by Alpine Dam (built 1917).

The surface area is 224 acres, with water volume of 8,892 acre feet.

Start of climb: Alpine Lake left, front of dam right.

Mt. Tamalpais from Alpine Dam aerial drone photo from above the dam

The dam’s face is at the bottom of the photo, and lake is at the photo’s top.

Cycling Mt. Tamalpais from Alpine Dam - cyclist on dam riding past windy road sign

Climb start.

Photo taken from below the road from the west (front of dam).

Bike climb Mt. Tamalpais from Alpine Dam - road surrounded by redwood trees

The steepest ½ mile (9%) is on this segment.

Right to Bolinas Bay/Stinson Beach,

Left to Mt. Tam.

SEGMENT TWO: RIDGECREST TO PANTOLL

Beginning of the second segment.

Ride four miles at 2.4%.

Views open up at mile three.

Ride atop a true ridgeline for 2½ miles at 3% average grade.

Some stunning views on this segment (Bolinas Bay to the left).

Alpine Dam as seen from 1600’ above the ridgeline.

View north: photo left center is where the views open up.

Aerial view of the southern portion of the three mile ridgeline ride.

SEGMENT THREE: EAST RIDGECREST BOULEVARD TO WEST PEAK

The final leg up to the top of Mt. Tam West Peak is 1.5 miles at 6.5%, with a gain of 517'.  The views of San Francisco and the Bay along this segment are absolutely spectacular -- the best anywhere, in our opinion.

Pass the entrance to the old Cold War Air Force Station ¼ mile from the top.

We took a detour to the old radar dome (note that the road is marked “no trespass”).

A bit hazy this day, but San Francisco is center of photo.

 

Cycling Mt. Tamalpais from Alpine Dam - view of SF Bay through bike frame 

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Sutro Tower, San Francisco.

That’s a wrap . . . for Mt. Tam anyway . . .

Drone aerial photo above the Golden Gate Bridge

And we are just a stone’s throw from the Golden Gate and San Francisco.

Drone aerial photo above the Golden Gate Bridge

Drone aerial photo above the Golden Gate Bridge

Visit the Marin Museum of Bicycling in Fairfax on your way to the start of the climb.

Drone aerial photo above the Golden Gate Bridge