MCBC Community Guest Post: Marin’s Hiker/Biker Sites the Perfect Introduction to Bike Touring
This is a guest post courtesy of longtime MCBC member Dwayne Price. If you’d like to share your story, adventures, or knowledge with the MCBC community, please email firstname.lastname@example.org!
In Marin, we’re fortunate to have three campgrounds with hiker/biker sites, providing the perfect introduction to bike touring for locals.
These hiker/biker sites are affordable ($5-7 per night), have showers, and don’t require reservations.
The China Camp Back Ranch Meadows Campground is virtually empty as my neighbor, James, and I ride through heading for my favorite hiker/biker site (China Camp actually has two). This emptiness gives me hope that the site will be available and waiting for us. But it is not to be. Even though typical hiker/biker sites will take a half dozen or more campers, this site is small and is completely overtaken. Before heading out to another site, we chat briefly with the occupants. They are a young couple from Germany who have ridden down from Canada towing a Burley trailer with their three-year-old toddler. They will catch a plane in SF in a day or two. That night, at the site James and I ultimately claimed, the coyotes from across the valley ‘sing’ to us. China Camp State Park Map
At the hiker/biker site in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, I had a chat with Hannah from somewhere on the East Coast. She was in the middle of a solo ride down the Pacific Coast before embarking on a new career. Then I talked a bit with Tim from Greenbrae who, like me, was out for a couple of days. He is a manager at a local tech company and when he discovered I was retired after 35 years writing computer code, he offered me a job. Samuel P. Taylor State Park Map
The weather is good, the sky above is clear, and I can look out at the fog stretched below me as far as I can see. Somewhere down there, San Francisco lurks. I am sitting on the porch of the West Point Inn waiting for the volunteers to start their one-Sunday-a-month pancake breakfast. The day before, I hiked the Dipsea Trail from Mill Valley to the Pantoll Campground; stayed the night at the hiker/biker site; hiked the Old Stage Road to the Inn this morning. As I look at all the mountain bikes, gravel bikes, and even a few road bikes arriving from the Double Bow Knot or Mountain Home, I swear next time I will ride up here for an overnight at Pantoll and my pancakes and coffee in the morning. Mount Tamalpais State Park Map
Yes, Marin has these amazing hiker/biker sites as well as two Hostels (Marin Headlands and Pt. Reyes) within easy riding distance. But for even more adventure, there are other campgrounds with hiker/biker sites within a day’s ride. Forty miles down the coast from my home in Larkspur is San Mateo County’s Half Moon Bay State Park campground. Sixty miles up the coast in Bodega Bay are Doran Regional Park and Bodega Dunes Campground. Or hop onto SMART to Santa Rosa, ride on up to Calistoga, sip some wine, and stay the night at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. If you want to get really adventurous, ride from Santa Rosa up to Salt Point State Park or even Gualala Point Regional Park. All have hiker/biker sites where you will meet amazing people.