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Cycling to Mt. Tamalpais West Peak from Muir Woods
Ride 8.9 miles gaining 2,484’ at 5% average grade.
Climb to Mt. Tam West Peak
Strava Attempts as of 2-1-2023
Popularity of top routes up Mt. Tam
Before heading to the bay area on your cycling adventure, be sure to rely on our list of Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip, and use our interactive checklist to ensure you don't forget anything.
Start - Muir Woods.
A bit about Muir Woods: Named after famed environmental activist John Muir, Muir Woods is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Bay Area, and for good reason. Run by the National Park Service, Muir Woods National Monument allows visitors to step back into time with a stroll through a forest filled with trees that are over a thousand years old. Established in 1908, the park itself has been around for over 110 years, and was a huge inspiration for its namesake’s passion for preservation and conservation of the nation’s awe-inspiring natural beauty. More information on Muir Woods can be found here. Visitors to the park should keep in mind that it is extremely popular (aka, very, VERY busy). To ease congestion in this beautiful park, and better control the flow of visitors, reservations are now required. More information on booking your reservation to visit the park can be found here.
Merge from Muir Woods Road onto Panoramic Highway at mile 1.5.
Mt. Tamalpais is the highest peak in the Marin County and has two peaks, the East Peak (2,574') and West Peak (2,563'), and is part of the California Coast Range which is itself part of the Pacific Coast Range of Mountains. The white radar dome that sits upon Mt. Tam's slightly lower western peak is quite discernible from afar.
This climb is divided into four parts:
1. Muir Woods Visitor Center to Panoramic Highway: This segment is wooded at the bottom, opening up to views of the forested hillside and roadway we just travelled towards the top. The climb is 1.5 miles, gaining 550’ at 7% average grade.
Muir Woods Visitor Center
2. Muir Woods Road/Panoramic Highway to Pantoll Road: This is the least strenuous of the four segments to the top of Mt. Tam at 4.5 miles, 960’ and 3.2% average grade. Along this route we initially have views of the West Peak of Mt. Tam, the distant Pacific Ocean, a brief glimpse of the white radar dome we will end just below, and finally wooded borders to the roadway. We end this segment at Pantoll Campground and Mt. Tamalpais State Park There is a Visitor Center here where information about the area and maps are gladly dispensed by the rangers.
3. Pantoll Road: The third leg is up Pantoll Road, from its intersection with Panoramic Highway, to Rock Springs Parking Area (staging area for many television commercials). Along this route we have great views down to the Pacific Ocean and as we climb higher, of Mt. Diablo, San Francisco Bay and San Francisco. This segment is 1.4 miles / 490' / 6.2%.
4. Ridgecrest Boulevard East: The final leg is along Ridgecrest Boulevard East and is the easiest segment, giving us more spectacular views of Mt. Diablo, San Francisco Bay, and San Francisco. This segment ends as Ridgecrest "crests" just east of the inactive cold war era radar dome atop Mt. Tam’s West Peak and is 1.5 miles /510’ / 6.8%.
Segment on Ridgecrest between Pantoll and West Peak.
Segment on Ridgecrest between Pantoll and West Peak.
Radar dome circa 1950’s.
This is the one remaining (of two original) cold war early nuclear strike warning radar domes on Mt. Tam. These facilities were prevalent on the west and east coast during the cold war when there is serious concern about nuclear attack from Russia.
Finish at West Peak
View from the summit of Mt. Tamalpais East Peak
Gravity Car Barn and Visitor Center at the finish of the East Peak route.
“At the top of Mt. Tamalpais is the modest East Peak Visitor Center. Hours of operation are between 11am to 4pm on weekends only. Note that the Visitor Center is staffed by volunteers and hours are subject to change. Here you’ll find:
Maps, books, apparel, and souvenirs for sale; a portion of all proceeds go to the park for maintenance and preservation.
Interpretive displays to help connect visitors with the natural and cultural resources found at the park.” FriendsofMtTam.org
“Those who live in the shadow of its majesty, who have climbed its many challenging trails, who have marveled at the 360 degree views from its summit, or have spent time pondering its impact on the skyline of the San Francisco Bay Area, cherish the power and natural beauty of Mt. Tamalpais. One hundred years ago, people as impressed and inspired by “The Sleeping Lady” came for a visit from the world over. Their goal — to steam up the mountain in what was affectionately called “The Crookedest Railroad in the World.” FriendsofMtTam.org
Water, bathrooms and bike rack at the finish
After hiking to the top, we suggest . . .
. . . bring a cable and lock and use the bike racks.
Mt. Tam Summit
Views of Mt. St. Helena to the north (left) and Mt. Diablo to the east (right)
RIDE FROM THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
This climb can be done in conjunction with a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge.
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