May 9, 2003
5 of 5
Visitors rate this review
5.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: G. Wright
, from Fairfax, CA
This trip starts on the shoulder of Highway 1 for me, riding up a short fire road to the parking area. Don't repeat my error of gliding very slowly down into the horse ranch; the Teutonic show jumpers will chase you off with their riding crops. The trailhead in the parking lot is well marked, and you curve gently around a pond before banging a left to begin your real journey. Straight off, let me tell you that I am a cross-country rider. I don't huck, slam, gnarl or behave like an idiot. I dearly love single track, but I also love climbing. So, for those of you who quantify the worth of a single-track by how many wheelie-drops you can do on it, head over to JT Howell or Zig-Zag, both of which I've done on my front-suspension XC rig, and have a blast. This is LEGAL SINGLE-TRACK. Better, it is 5+ miles of adventurous single-track and when I rode it, I saw nary a hiker, horse or biker other than my wing man Kevin, who upon finishing said bluntly, "That was the single best thing I've ever done on a bike." And it is, its just great. We did it in a freak rainstorm in May, which followed a week of rain in April, so some of its epicness had to do with the truly deplorable, unprecedented and hilariously ugly mud. Immediately after starting, it is a bog; a gloppy, spinning, hub-deep Rubix cube that can be solved only by judicious route choices, sudden bursts of power and the occasional application of testosterone. You can't beat the mud, you can only hope to contain it. For all 5 miles. The trail ascends steeply on the single-track. It also narrows abruptly at times, often degenerating into that ugly deep V that horses so often cause. You eventually reach a peak of some sort, and I was embarassed to find that my altimeter indicated a truly lame amount of climbing. Believe me, it feels like a lot...but it really isn't. Keep heading south at a signed junction, and get in the groove. Its narrow and winding, with a few ups and downs to keep you amused. Oh, and there are just loads of marshy areas to slew your freeriding ass around. Kevin and I arrived exultant at an intersection; I could see the trail heading left back to Hiway 1 and I thought, "wow, 5 miles goes quick when you're having fun." What an oaf. The sign informed us, incredulously but definitively, that you go THIS way. Toward Dogtown. Up. And you still have 3.1 miles to go. So go we went, and its all a blur now. I remember one steep downhill. I remember wading through a river. I remember downhill track that wasn't quite switchbacks, but more like chicanes that you just leaned into and carved like a freaking black diamond run. I remember bobbing and weaving the abundant plant life trying to smack me in the face. I remember a dozen jackrabbits, giant banana slugs, cow parsnip, lupine, wild iris and redwoods. After all that bliss, the final mile was even better. It's a long, not-steep downhill through high grass, just racing the bumblebees. Capped off with a 1/4 mile of gorgeous open meadow. The trail literally disappeared, and it was just me and the Marin Mount Vision cruising through grass that swept over my handlbars. Unbelievable.
Other recommended trails in the same area:
We did this as part of a comprehensive 71-miles-in-two days recon of the Stinson Beach riding scene. This day's loop: from Stinson north on highway 1, up McCurdy, all the way down Bolinas Ridge, down to Olema, on the road to Olema Valley Trail, single-track it to Dogtown and back on the road. The other day, we ascended Randall, which is roughly 1,000 times nicer than McCurdy and also bagged a screaming descent of Shafter and a fun little climb up the aptly named Jewell. We've done Willow Camp already, both up and down...see reviews.