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  1. #1
    Senior Member td.tony's Avatar
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    Bay area Bike Camping suggestions??

    I am a total noob to bike touring, I literally just bought my first touring bike yesterday(08 jamis aurora elite), and now that I've read about how fun bike touring and camping can be I really want to try it out. I didn't get my touring bike with the intention of doing any touring, just because I was intimidated, but now I realize if I actually have everything I need then it wouldn't be scary at all.
    So, after reading up on bike touring I'm thinking of trying a one night bike camping trip somewhere in the bay area.
    For those of you living in the Bay Area, where have you bike camped before and which places would you recommend for a first timer like me. More specifically I live in the east bay.

  2. #2
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    There are several camping sites just over the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands. You must first go to the visitors center to pick up your reserved permit and then get to the campsite which can be far and very hilly so be prepared for a looooong day.
    www.VWVagabonds.com
    Mexico, Central America, South America & Africa in a Volkswagen

    By bicycle West Coast of the U.S., Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia

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  3. #3
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    take BART to the Embarcadero station . Then take the ferry to Larkspur and ride out to Pt. Reyes through SanRafael/Fairfax.

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    How about driving out to Hollister or somewhere near there, and riding to Pinnacles National Monument. There's a campground at Pinnacles with a small store (check hours). The ride from Hollister, especially if you take the back road Cienegas Rd to join Airport / hwy 25, is just beautiful, there is very little traffic, it's hilly but the hills aren't terribly steep or long. There's a small store at Paicines too - but check to make sure it's still there/open, and there are services at Tres Pinos (but you'll miss Cienega Rd - maybe go this way in one direction.)

    Weather should be great this time of year - cold mornings, mild afternoons - as long as you don't go during a storm.

    http://www.nps.gov/pinn/planyourvisit/camp.htm
    ...

  5. #5
    Bike touring webrarian
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    I'd suggest Samuel P. Taylor State Park a few miles past Fairfax. It's about 40 miles from the Embarcadero Bart station. It has a hiker/biker site so $5 gets you a place to lay out your stuff, bathrooms and showers.

    It is the place I ride to if I feel I need a shakedown ride.

    You might also ask your question in the Northern California section: http://www.bikeforums.net/northern-california/

    Ray
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  6. #6
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo View Post
    I'd suggest Samuel P. Taylor State Park a few miles past Fairfax. It's about 40 miles from the Embarcadero Bart station. It has a hiker/biker site so $5 gets you a place to lay out your stuff, bathrooms and showers.

    It is the place I ride to if I feel I need a shakedown ride.

    You might also ask your question in the Northern California section: http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdisplay.php?f=235

    Ray
    Yeah, I love going to samuel taylor park for an overnight trip, it really is one of the nicest bike/hike sights i've been to.
    This blog has some trips planned out from the bay area, it's nice when someone does the palnning for you. They have all the routes, bus information and everything on the blog. Take a look: http://bikeandhike.wordpress.com/

    If you need help with a route to Samuel taylor let me know.

  7. #7
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    Regarding the Pinnacles suggestion: You can leave your car at Safeway or Kmart, and take Hwy 25 south through two stoplights, turning right on Union, and then left just after the bridge, following Cienega Road until it rejoins Airline Highway just south of Paicines. There is a small store in Paicines, and the owners serve great Mexican food. Straight down Airline, you'll encounter one significant grade, but it's not too bad. The campground near the Pinnacles entrance is open and pretty darn perfect. Expect night temperatures just below freezing.

    Another Hollister option is to park at
    Safeway, Target or Kmart, and head south on Hwy 25. Go left at Paicines (just before the store) onto J1, riding into the Panoche Valley. You won't believe you're at the edge of the Bay Area, because this place is beautiful and remote. Stop at the only business in Panoche Valley, the Panoche Inn, for a drink and a good sandwich, then continue on Little Panoche Road to Mercey Hotsprings, where camping and cabins are available. (There's no food on site). Nice to take a long, warm soak at the end of the day. The next day, reverse the route to return to your car.

    The open vistas and the wildlife are unsurpassed. Panoche Valley is nationally known for winter birding.


    Other suggestions: Public transit over to the coast, then down 1 to Pigeon Point Light, where there's a hostel and a hottub overlooking the ocean. Tons of options all over Santa Cruz County as well.

  8. #8
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paxtonm View Post
    Regarding the Pinnacles suggestion: You can leave your car at Safeway or Kmart, and take Hwy 25 south through two stoplights, turning right on Union, and then left just after the bridge, following Cienega Road until it rejoins Airline Highway just south of Paicines. There is a small store in Paicines, and the owners serve great Mexican food. Straight down Airline, you'll encounter one significant grade, but it's not too bad. The campground near the Pinnacles entrance is open and pretty darn perfect. Expect night temperatures just below freezing.

    Another Hollister option is to park at
    Safeway, Target or Kmart, and head south on Hwy 25. Go left at Paicines (just before the store) onto J1, riding into the Panoche Valley. You won't believe you're at the edge of the Bay Area, because this place is beautiful and remote. Stop at the only business in Panoche Valley, the Panoche Inn, for a drink and a good sandwich, then continue on Little Panoche Road to Mercey Hotsprings, where camping and cabins are available. (There's no food on site). Nice to take a long, warm soak at the end of the day. The next day, reverse the route to return to your car.

    The open vistas and the wildlife are unsurpassed. Panoche Valley is nationally known for winter birding.


    Other suggestions: Public transit over to the coast, then down 1 to Pigeon Point Light, where there's a hostel and a hottub overlooking the ocean. Tons of options all over Santa Cruz County as well.
    You can also do pinnacles without a car, although it will be more of a hassle. You can take amtrak to king city and ride from there along bitterwater road and then continue on HWY 25 to pinnacles. I was planning on doing this ride over thanksgiving, but some logistical things didn't work out for me. Therefore i have not actually done this ride, so if someone wants to chime in about road conditions that would be great.

  9. #9
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    King City to Pinnacles

    Hi,

    That certainly is do-able, but a couple of observations:


    Amtrak typically runs hours off schedule.
    The Bitterwater Road out of King City is often plagued with winds that could only be described as hellish befoe entering a pretty bleak canyon for a pretty good climb. Descending into San Benito County, the scenery improves. Near where Bitterwater meets Hwy. 25, keep an eye out for pronhorn antelope. I often see them through here.

    My own bias is showing (I live in Hollister) but I think routing through SBC is much better riding than the King City option. Of course, if you don't have a car.... King City works.

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    Amtrak CA runs on time.

    Hi folks,

    Just to clarify a point in the discussion -- Amtrak CA's rail lines and buses (the capitol corridor, san joaquin, and pacific surfliner) + a large network of buses that you can take to many rural areas with a bike in the state is different from the traditional amtrak network with its massive delays. You can catch an amtrak CA bus to king city from san jose and put your bike in the luggage bay of the bus, unboxed. It runs on time.

    driving to bike is lame-o. all for now.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeculturetheo View Post
    driving to bike is lame-o. all for now.
    Really? why is it lamer than taking the train?

    For a two day trip, the amount of time you would take boxing, waiting for the train, taking the train, unboxing, repeat on the way home, be stuck with a train schedule that might not meet your needs and is inflexible if your timing isn't perfect, what if you miss your train sunday night and have to be at work on monday... when you could just throw the bike in the trunk of your car and drive?
    ...

  12. #12
    Hooked on Touring
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Really? why is it lamer than taking the train?

    For a two day trip, the amount of time you would take boxing, waiting for the train, taking the train, unboxing, repeat on the way home, be stuck with a train schedule that might not meet your needs and is inflexible if your timing isn't perfect, what if you miss your train sunday night and have to be at work on monday... when you could just throw the bike in the trunk of your car and drive?
    Why, Valygrl?
    Because I, the great arbiter of all things bicycle, sayeth so.

    I have disagreed with some choices that other people bike touring have made, but I do so on the merits - not on some supposed tenet of "True Faith Bicycledom". I prefer shipping my bike cross-country rather than putting it on a plane. Others do the opposite. I prefer random camping to stealth camping. Others feel differently.

    If I want to drive down to Hollister rather than schlep my bike over to the Amtrak station only to discover that the schedule has changed and/or the train/bus no longer carries bicycles - then I should be able to do so without facing the opprobrium of some blogger on a bike touring thread. Not to mention that I won't give a rat's patootie, anyhoo.

  13. #13
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    Come join us in the spring if you want some company....
    SF Bike Travelers
    http://bike.meetup.com/387/

  14. #14
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    Realistically, this is a two day trip, not a one day. Try Harbin Hot Springs, about 30 miles north of Calistoga. It is a moderately priced, nonprofit retreat center, and it allows camping.

    http://www.harbin.org

    From Calistoga to Harbin, you go over a mountain pass, well over 2000 feet.

    I'm not much of a New Ager, but I enjoy the energy for short periods of time.

    Howard

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    For a two day trip, the amount of time you would take boxing, waiting for the train, taking the train, unboxing, repeat on the way home, be stuck with a train schedule that might not meet your needs and is inflexible if your timing isn't perfect, what if you miss your train sunday night and have to be at work on monday... when you could just throw the bike in the trunk of your car and drive?
    Within the Bay Area, there are some trains that do run on time, and do not require boxing a bike. You can use BART or Caltrain (on the Peninsula) to get a jump on the urban traffic. If you are crossing the Bay from San Francisco, there is really no other way to do it. The Pleasant Hill or Concord BART stations are a good starting point for a trip to Napa and beyond. Riding the Peninsula or the crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is damn nice on a bike.

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    I've bike camped a few times at China Camp S.P. in San Rafael. It's a few miles shorter to China Camp from San Francisco than Samuel P Taylor, and I like that I can do a loop trip--out on North San Pedro Rd, an back on Point San Pedro Rd to the south of the camp.

    I've meant to try a trip out to the local youth hostels (Marin Headlands, Montara, Los Altos Hills), but have never done it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    take BART to the Embarcadero station . Then take the ferry to Larkspur and ride out to Pt. Reyes through SanRafael/Fairfax.
    Or just ride straight out there. It's only 50-70 miles depending where you go in Pt Reyes.

  18. #18
    Senior Member rothenfield1's Avatar
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    I'm considering doing my first overnighter too. I was thinking about riding down to Big Sur from Marina. You can hop on the Coastal Trail in Marina and ride to Monterey, work you way around Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach and the 17 mile scenic drive then onto Hwy 1 to Big Sur. I think it can be done in a day, but am not sure. I see peopling touring that way all the time, so there must be plenty of places to camp. Maybe someone else could weigh in?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rothenfield1 View Post
    I'm considering doing my first overnighter too. I was thinking about riding down to Big Sur from Marina. You can hop on the Coastal Trail in Marina and ride to Monterey, work you way around Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach and the 17 mile scenic drive then onto Hwy 1 to Big Sur. I think it can be done in a day, but am not sure. I see peopling touring that way all the time, so there must be plenty of places to camp. Maybe someone else could weigh in?
    Yes, that's certainly a possibility. I frequently head down the coast on my way to the Great Western Bike Rally and we stay one night in Monterey at Veterans Park and then ride through 17-Mile Dr. and on to Big Sur the next day. It's about 45 miles to the Big Sur campground which does have a nice Hike&Bike section. A few miles before that campground is the one at Andrew Molera park - not as sheltered as the one at Big Sur, but also an option. There are also a few other camping options farther down the coast: Lime Kiln (closed last year but probably open again), Kirk Creek, and Plaskett.

    The previously mentioned Sam Taylor Park is also an excellent weekend destination starting from SF. Head out over the Golden Gate into Sausalito and then continue to San Anselmo and take Sir Francis Drake Blvd. to the park.

    BTW, a few of us are planning a weekend trip on the 15th/16th starting at the Daly City BART station on Saturday morning and heading down the coast to Capitola. The next day we'll return on an inland route. Camping will be at the Hike&Bike site at New Brighton State Beach and others will be staying at a hotel in Capitola. Send an email for details if interested: prathmann@yahoo.com

  20. #20
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    I see you've got Davis listed in your location too, here's some options for overnight tours from there:

    Folsom Lake
    Cache Creek Regional Park
    Lake Berryessa

  21. #21
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    Also worth adding I think that Mt. Tamalpias state park has a campsite with a $5 biker site - I can't remember the name of the campsite but it is just off of the Panoramic highway. For anyone new to the area the ubiquitous bike rental company in S.F., whose name I also can't remember at the moment, has free brochures with a good enough map to show how to get over the bridge and shows bike paths and good routes to get to panoramic hwy.

  22. #22
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Hawk Camp in GGNRA is a great overnighter from San Francisco if you can ride packed gravel roads. views of the city and the top of the Golden Gate bridge if its clear, and it's FREE!
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Like Napa Valley Wine Tasting too?
    Once you get over the hill to Lake Berryessa from Davis , continue west to the rest of the Napa Valley and there's Boothe
    park between St Helena And Calistoga on the west side, for camping, .. though the other road ,
    Silverado Trail on the east side of the valley is a better biking route than the state highway..

    From the South a Ferry from Fisherman's Wharf to Vallejo is a good quick way.
    You could ride across the GG bridge , then across the North Bay to do the same.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-03-14 at 11:43 AM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Losligato View Post
    There are several camping sites just over the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands.
    I visited the Marin headlands when I was really young and have wanted to go back my entire life. It's actually one of my favorite memories from my younger childhood... I don't know if it's really as spectacular as I remember it, but at that age it was the first time I'd seen a truly impressive landscape and it stuck with me my whole life!

    So what I'm trying to say is... TOTALLY go camping there!

    *edit* oh wow, I didn't realize how old a thread I was replying to...

  25. #25
    bike camper Pedal_Inn's Avatar
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    San Francisco Bike Camping destinations

    Yes, ancient thread revival, but hopefully this could be useful to people seeking info as a lot of place have become more accessible and safe to get to since the other posts were published.

    Here is a short list of great places to bike camp, S240, bike overnight, whatever wish to call it... from San Francisco. All info from the Pedal Inn. See Bike + Camp ? Pedal Inn: San Francisco Bicycle Getaways and Gear for info, maps, and tips on getting groceries nearby.

    Marin Headlands: Bicentennial Camp - the closest campsite to SF that you can reach by bike. Free. Call NPS for reservations. Hawk Camp - Mixed terrain ride up in the hills of the headlands with stunning city and ocean views. Highly recommended. Free. Call NPS for reservations.

    China Camp: our favorite place to bike camp! A beautiful escape on the edge of San Rafael right on the Bay. A new bike tunnel right across the street from the Larkspur ferry makes getting there a breeze. Ferry also an option for the return journey.

    Mt. Diablo: Stunning destination to bike camp. Take BART to Walnut Creek. About 20 mile ride to camp along some of the finest biking roads anywhere. Love the climb, love the views. Two campsites. One at 2k ft, one at 3k, both are excellent. Stop at Rivendell if you have time on the way out or back home.

    Half Moon Bay: Great beachside camping and costal riding. The devils slide bike trail and new tunnel bike lane make for easy passage from Pacifica. Highly recommended and hiker-biker site is only about 50 yards from the beach!

    Samuel P. Taylor: Lot of raccoons and a newly relocated (and way less ideal hiker-biker site) make for less than ideal camping. But redwoods and great riding make for a nice time in any case. A good jumping off point for camping in Pt. Reyes.

    Pt. Reyes: Sky camp - perched high atop the point, it's an epic camping spot with view of the whole point. Great hiking down to the beach with plenty of wildlife. A must experience adventure. Good for a long weekend. Glen Camp - nice, challenging mixed terrain riding into a tranquil valley, connect back to the visitors center on the way out. Nice campsites tucked into the back of the woods. Great place to explore around.

    Lake Chabot - Tucked in the Oakland hills, Chabot is a surprising oasis with some great camping at the walk in sites. Take BART to Bay Fair Station and then its a short climb to the lake. Alternatively take Skyline for a more challenging and beautiful ride from downtown Oakland or Lake Merrit.

    Lake Del Valle - Huge lake tucked into the hills outside of Livermore. Great summer experience and swimming (it's hot!). Take BART to Dublin/Pleasanton and then it's about 20 miles of riding through the Livermore wine country on trails and back roads. Try to get a group site right next to the lake.

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