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Blissful Bike Rides: The Best Bike Trails in The Bay Area
Health & Fitness

Blissful Bike Rides: The Best Bike Trails in The Bay Area

Home to lush, rolling hills, forested pathways, and year-round moderate temps the East Bay Area is ideal for cycling trails and bike rides.

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5 min read

November 27, 2022

Home to lush, rolling hills as well as forested pathways, and year-round moderate temperatures, the Bay Area is an ideal destination for outdoor recreation. While there are tons of roads to follow and trails to choose from, we have rounded up our favorite bike pathways that allow riders to enjoy the journey while avoiding the hazard of vehicles. Whether you are looking for your toughest biking excursion yet, trying to get into a new fitness regimen, or seeking a wholesome activity for the entire family, there is a bike trail Bay Area has in store for you.

Take a tour of the East Bay on two wheels by pedaling along the Iron Horse Regional Trail which connects multiple cities and provides scenic rides.

Iron Horse Regional Trail

Location: East Bay Regional Park District Trail Systems
Level of difficulty: Easy
Distance: 27.7 miles
Route: Point to point

The Iron Horse Regional Trail winds through urban, rural, and residential areas to create a 27.7-mile-long network of paved pathways connecting the towns of Concord, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore. Eventually, the Bay Area bike trail will span a total of 55 miles and link 12 cities throughout the East Bay.

The trail is almost entirely flat, making it suitable for the whole family. Take in the area as you ride over bridges and traverse the various towns, setting aside time to admire the creeks, museums, and parks along the way. For a shorter ride, get on the trail in San Ramon’s Central Park or Walnut Creek’s Civic Park, and then hop off near the Danville Railroad Museum.

Every Bay Area bucket list includes a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. The landmark is so popular, you might encounter bike traffic.

Bay Area Ridge Trail: The Golden Gate Bridge to Marin Headlands

Location: Fort Point National Historic Site
Level of difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.7 miles
Route: Point to point

Standing high and bright atop the Golden Gate strait, the iconic suspension bridge is a picturesque landmark worth traveling across. In fact, we’ll go so far as to say it is the one bike trail in the Bay Area you should not miss while visiting the area. 

Dedicated in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge is a major crowd pleaser with its unmatched views and the coastal wildlife right beneath it. This means that, as you ride your two-wheeler, you’re likely to encounter masses you might’ve not foreseen. In the end, this is not just a top biking trail but one of the best San Francisco hikes and tourist landmarks with striking views — and goes straight to everyone’s S.F. bucket list.

Like the Iron Horse Regional Trail, the Contra Costa Canal Trail connects several East Bay Area cities, and makes for a perfect tour track.

Contra Costa Canal Trail

Location: East Bay Regional Park District Trail Systems
Level of difficulty: Easy
Distance: 13.6 miles
Route: Point to point

Considered one of the best bike trails Bay Area has to offer, the paved, relatively flat Contra Costa Canal Trail runs for several miles and connects the cities of Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, and Concord. At 13.6 miles, the paved trail follows the Contra Costa Canal the entire way, passing by multiple city parks between its trailhead at Muir Road in Martinez and its culmination at Willow Pass Road in Concord. The pathway also serves as a great starting point for other bike rides, as it intersects several other local trails such as the Briones to Mount Diablo Regional Trail.

Rising 3,848 feet above sea level, Mount Diablo provides the perfect challenge for those looking for a difficult ride with unparalleled views.

Summit Trail from South Gate

Location: Mount Diablo State Park
Level of difficulty: Difficult
Distance: 11 miles
Route: Out and back

One of the most famous, and most difficult, Bay Area bicycle trails is the Mount Diablo Summit Trail. The iconic mountain rises 3,848 feet high, providing a serious workout worthy of bragging rights.

Beginning at the Athenian School in Danville, the trail stretches about 11 miles and gains over 3,221 feet in elevation by the end, testing a rider’s endurance during the last 800 feet of the 17 percent-grade hillside. The views, however, are undoubtedly worth the effort — particularly after winter storms, when the sky clears up to show off the entire Bay Area (and beyond).

Make sure to bring lots of water and to prepare for a tough ride up — not to mention a nail-biting descent with hairpin turns and steep terrain. The trails leading into Mount Diablo State Park are intended for more experienced riders, so start with other trails in the area and work your way up to this one.

There’s no better way to explore the beauty of St. Helena’s vineyards than by riding your bike through them.

Lake Hennessey Shoreline Trail

Location: Napa County Regional Park
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 5.5 miles
Route: Loop

We can’t discuss the best bike trails in the Bay Area and leave one of Napa County’s best paths out. Pretty short yet challenging, the Lake Hennessey Shoreline Trail is the Napa bike trail you should definitely add to your itinerary.  Running through vineyards and rural roads, and offering breathtaking lake views and a lot of tranquility, riding this bike trail in the Bay Area is an exercise worth going for.  

As you ride your bike up to the top of the mountain, an elevation of 709 feet, you’ll witness lake and city views that will make the climb worth your while. This trail near St. Helena is also popular among hikers, but that’s not something you need to worry about as there’s enough space for everyone. 

Picturesque, pleasant, and trying, the Mount Hamilton Ride includes beautiful sites along the way, like the Lick Observatory in San Jose.

Mount Hamilton Ride

Location: San Jose, California
Level of difficulty: Difficult
Distance: 36 miles
Route: Out and back

If you’re an advanced biker who finds no mountain high enough and no challenge hard enough, then Mount Hamilton Ride is the bike trail in the Bay Area you should look to tackle. Far from the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley — yet overlooking it — Mount Hamilton is the best place to enjoy peace and tranquility in the region. This is a trail that proves that the climb can be as beautiful as the final destination. As you go up an elevation exceeding 4,000 feet, you’ll see Silicon Valley in all its glory becoming tinier and tinier by the minute. 

Near the end of the Mount Hamilton Ride, you’ll find the Lick Observatory, one of the best places to watch the sunset in Northern California. The astronomical observatory is also a great place to stargaze in NorCal. This Santa Clara gem is worth visiting at all times of the day. For your uphill ride, it would be wise to have lots of water, snack bars, and probably an energy drink or two in your backpack. 

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