Somewhere to Be: Mill Valley, Mt. Tamalpais, and more
by Daniel Noguera·
GRIN27 had originally started as a blog concept for sharing safety tips and routes vetted by local athletes - an effort to make riding more accessible to new riders, especially in cities like LA. It's come a long way since then, but our mission remains the same. 'We Have No Place To Be' is an effort share local routes, and 'Somewhere to Be' is an extension of that focused on longer, multiple-day rides. Our first installation was planned by adventure god Pham, and guided by the endurance shaman Pat Shields.
This route is the perfect first timer's bike packing route. There are towns, water, nutrition, bike shops, and support lined up through the entire way. You get to see ocean, redwoods, meadows, cow pastures, quasi-desert, and almost everything in between. The entire route is 101 mi with about 9k ft of elevation.
Bike: Gravel** Required for this route
Bar // Frame // Saddle // Top Tube
Bar: Sleeping bag, bivy, sleeping pad
Frame: Snacks, tools, extra water bladder, electronics, hygiene products. Fire starting products
Saddle: Clothing, dehydrated food.
Top Tube: Phone, Snacks.
Shared gear are things you can disperse between the members, avoiding doubling, and avoiding extra weight
Multitool Spare Kits Tubeless Kit
The adventure begins at the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Opened in 1870, the lighthouse is an historic landmark located on the coast of the Point Reyes National Seacoast, and provides a cloudy, mystic, almost fantastic sensation to the start of the ride. You pass through rolling hills and massive straight descents with almost no traffic whatsoever due to its remoteness.
The first town you pass is Inverness, a quaint little town with access to food and water if needed. From there we peeled off to get a view of the Tomales Bay Ecological Reserve, stopping to eat some sandwiches on the water.
Some gentle and beautiful climbing later and you arrive at Sammy P Taylor Campsite. We were ready to cowboy camp in their hike/bike walk in spots, but thankfully any spots not claimed after 5pm become up for grabs, and we were able to grab a small camp site.
Camp Recommendation: we recommend having a campsite pre-planned for this just in case there aren't any available. Ranger stations will sell fire wood until they close at 5pm.
We slept in bivys on inflatable personal pads and sleeping bags. For the weight savings, this is by far the best option. *Because of the fog and humidity, bivy's are a non-negotiable to ensure your sleeping bags stay dry over night*
Food Recommendation: You will pass by Point Reyes before Sammy P Taylor, we recommend stopping at Cafe Reyes for a big meal before bed. The mornings, we ate dehydrated oats + instant coffee.
From Sammy P, there is a bike path that takes you directly into Lagunitas, a tiny town with one dive bar offering called the Papermill Creek Saloon. The ride is an absolute blast and it doesn't hurt to have a drink or two before a night spent sleeping on the forest floor. This is not essential and will add 7mi to your route, but we really recommend it.
Day 2 is the real meat and potatoes of the trip. You wake up in Sammy P Taylor and make your way over Mt. Tam and into Mill Valley. Along the way you’ll pass several small towns, many worth stopping at to explore if you’ve never been. Particularly, we recommend stopping at the last bridge coming out of Sammy P for a quick dip under it at one of the ink wells.
Continue riding through until you reach Fairfax where you can stop for a big late breakfast at any of the restaurants in town. We continue on, but before arriving at Mill Valley, we made an impromptu stop at Village Peddler Bike shop where a lovely employee gave us the idea to avoid the main road and instead start climbing through the neighborhoods up Blithedale. Before embarking on this last climb though, we recommend also grabbing all your dinner supplies at Good Earth Natural Foods. We picked up warm burritos and snacks and made our way up Mt. Tamalpais; climbing through beautiful homes tucked in and through red woods, eventually arriving to the Old Railroad Grade climb.
This climb is super fun, and not very technical, and at the end of the residential area the LAST home has a public fountain and repair station set up for any travelers who need refueling. We thank you kind sir... truly.
From here, you’ll climb a bit further and eventually arrive at Pantoll Camp site. Just like at Sammy P, any campsites not claimed by 5pm are open, there is a communal hike/bike area, and the ranger station sells fire wood until around 5pm. Again, we recommend booking in advance, but we had no issues grabbing an open camp site upon arrival. Set up camp, unload your bike, and head up to the peak of Mt. Tamalpais to marvel at the glory of this area.
For the third day we recommend waking up early (around 5am) to catch the sunrise over Mt. Tamalpais before the park opens up to cars at 7am. You can ride through and descend all of Mt. Tam undisturbed, its incredible. After Tam, you will take a cut into the redwoods and ride through a muddy and super fun gravel route that dumps you out on Bolinas Ridge. Here, you’ll find a mix of technical single track and huge open cattle roads. It’s a beautiful end to the route, and you’ll find yourself back in Point Reyes in about 2 hours. There is no food on this last day, so top up on water and make sure you have some breakfast items with you before setting up camp in Pantoll.
And that's it! Enjoy friends