Sometimes ending an intense bike ride is much like hitting your thumb with a hammer—it feels good when you stop. This ride has enough hammers that it’ll surely be a relief when it’s finished; even more so if you leave enough time to mosey over to the nearby Pelican Inn and quaff a cold one (or two).
Muir Beach is considered a local’s delight with its dog friendly beach, great hiking, and awesome MTB access. The National Park Service recently upgraded the parking area and it makes a great jump-off for this ride. We’ll describe this ride as counter-clockwise loop, which gives you the most single-track. Riding it in reverse is also a blast and if you have the time go for it in both directions.
Muir Beach is a mere 20 minutes from Hwy 101 via Hwy 1; take the Stinson Beach – Mill Valley exit. Drive 7.5 miles and as you make the left into the Muir Beach parking area, you’ll pass the Pelican Inn on the corner. Gear up and head back towards the inn and take the dirt road on the right just before the highway; this will lead you into the Green Gulch Ranch and Zen center. Be sure to respect all gates and leave them as you found them. We’ll head up the Middle Green Gulch trail, a sweet single track that is open to bikes only in the uphill direction. It’s a challenging ascent – it can be steep in places – but 800+ feet later you’ll be on the spine of Coyote Ridge and taking in some fantastic views of Tennessee Valley below, the north tower of Golden Gate Bridge framed in a notch of the opposite ridge, and perhaps, on a clear day, the Farallon Islands off-shore.
At this point (2.4 miles later) take a left on the road and head up to the top of the ridge for even more panoramic views of the entire North Bay. After the crest we descend about 100 yards, hooking left on a short single track connector onto the parallel Miwok Trail fire road below. This section makes for a fast descent and we soon reach Hwy 1 – just before the gate make a left on the short single track to cross the road at the 90 degree bend to the left. The Miwok now becomes a meandering single track as it climbs up to the junction with the Diaz Ridge Trail (4.9 miles) where we’ll turn left.
This section of the route has the most to offer accomplished off road riders as it winds up and over Diaz Ridge. At the 6.1 mile mark the trail makes a hard left to begin our descent back down to Muir Beach. The trail gets a bit more technical as it regains the ridge crest and at 7.5 miles you’re back at the Pelican Inn for the opportunity to sample a fine selection of English ales and stouts (check out their beer menu). Should you wish to ride the route in reverse, you’ll need to continue past the Middle Green Gulch Trail, intersect for a tenth of a mile, and make a right on the Coastal Fire Road to return to Muir Beach (legally).