Riding Mount Sutro’s Awesome Singletrack
Did you know that San Francisco has a mountain, a real mountain? Okay, maybe not a mountain like Colorado or Utah or even Tahoe, but a mountain nonetheless. And it’s right here in our backyard.
And like other mountains, Sutro has some decent singletrack mountain or cyclocross trails on it. Northern California is painfully lacking in legal singletrack trails, so it’s refreshing—no, awesome—to know that there are a few solid miles of it right here within our city limit.
If you’re not familiar with Mount Sutro, here are the basics: It’s the wooded area behind UCSF, above the Castro and around/beneath Twin Peaks. In total, Mount Sutro is 61 acres of open space, which is a pretty decent amount of land to play on (thanks, UCSF, for protecting it).
Mount Sutro is heavily forested with overgrown 200-foot Eucalyptus trees; the thick canopy makes city views all but disappear and you feel like you’re on a real mountain when pedaling its vast trail network. Most mornings and afternoons, it’s socked in with SF fog, so there’s a dreamy aspect to riding there.
There are so many reasons to go mountain biking in Mount Sutro: The accessibility, the single track, and the incredible signage. Every trail is well marked on the mountain, meaning you can explore all day and never get lost. These great signs tell you what trail you’re bombing down: Historic, Ridge, Fairy Gates.
Mount Sutro is a decent ride for any intermediate mountain biker, and probably okay for someone just cutting their trail teeth. There are a few hairy, rocky sections, but on the whole, it’s a network of smooth trails sure to delight almost any rider. Since it’s only 2.5 miles of trails, there’s little risk of getting lost. Give yourself two hours to play and you’ll easily discover your favorite loop.
Getting to Mount Sutro: There are a few ways to enter San Francisco’s mountain bike mecca (see this map for details). I generally prefer the Stanyan Street entrance, as it spits you directly on to the trail. You can “wiggle” your way up to Stanyan Street via the Panhandle. Follow Stanyan to 17th Street and look for the trailhead on your right.
Then let the terrific trail signs guide you through San Francisco’s true “mountain” biking.
Mount Sutro Map: http://www.peasepress.com/sutromap.pdf