Norcal - Marin County - Fairfax NickNames: #TamaranchoBoyScoutCamp tamarancho
From the GG bridge, take the 101 north to the Sir Francis Drake Blvd exit, and head west on SFD. Follow SFD to Fairfax, make a left on Pastoni, and take the next right onto Center st. Park in the parking lot across the street from Sunshine Bicycles and gear up. You can buy a day pass for Tamarancho there ($5*), or get an individual annual pass for $40, or a family pass for $55.
To get to the trails, continue west down Center St, which turns into Broadway in one block – follow Broadway for 6 blocks. Follow ‘bike route’ sign L at Azala for 1 block, and make a right at the next ‘bike route’ sign at Scenic. Right at ‘bike route’ sign at Manor, follow this for 2 blocks, left at Rockridge, left at Iron Springs for 1 mile. The trailhead is well marked, and on your left. It's a lot easier to follow than it sounds.
I recommend bringing a bell and strapping it under your seat– Tamarncho is no secret, and there are lots of people out on weekends.
* Tamarancho is on privately owned Boy Scout Camp land. The trails at Tamarancho were built by volunteers from the Bicycle Trails Council of Marin (http://www.btcmarin.org/). This was an Herculean effort that spanned 6 years, and took ~11,000 volunteer hours. Tamarancho is still maintained by BTCM – and that costs money. Given the political situation in Marin with MTB trail access on public land, we should all support this effort for legal singletrack riding. Plus, the riding is worth $5…
It’s actually worth a lot more than that.
It’s 100% legal singletrack.
Tamarancho Bike Coordinator
D4er a 55 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Santa Cruz from Berkeley, CA URL: Tamarancho Web Site
The scenery is outrageous. There are panoramic views of the north face of Tam, crystal-blue skies framed by green ridgelines that pop with color... I can see why people pay so much money to live in Marin. The terrain changes variously from fast, buff sinewy singletrack threading through the trees, to jagged rocky suspension-testing outcroppings surrounded by sharp manzanita, to meditative meandering grassy hillsides. What this loop lacks in options (there is only one loop), it makes up for in diversity of terrain. It is simply astounding that there is this much variation in an 8 mile loop.
There are no huge climbs, but rather, lots of little dips that will nickel and dime your strength. If you plan on doing more than 1 lap bring serious food. You will need it. If you can do 3 laps at this place you are a friggin rockstar.
After a warmup of Alchemist trail (0.6 miles), we elected to ride clockwise at the Goldman junction. After riding it clockwise, I decided that there was no good reason to ride it the other way. Ever. If you ride it counter-clockwise, you miss the descent on B-17. You don’t want to do that… unless you live in Fairfax and ride here 5x a week and are bored with the clockwise loop.
Goldman Trail is tame - a good way to gain some elevation and work some blood into your legs. It meanders through trees and switchbacks up to a clearing, where you cross the first fireroad.
Serpentine starts to get a little more rocky and technical, and there are a few spots where you can rip out some air on the short descents. There is one great climbing switchback that is reasonably technical, and a few embedded rock garden climbs to test your rhythm. There are unobstructed views of the east peak of Mt. Tam to the south here. Very pretty stuff.
Wagon Wheel turns the corner and wraps around the west side of the ride. There is a fireroad descent here (it’s short) that is rutted and wet, but I suspect these ruts will diminish after it gets a little drier.
B-17 is bad ass – the essence of what singletrack was meant to be. Lots of switchbacks, it is smooth, buffed-out tree-weaving bliss. There are a few spots with a clean line-of-sight that you can just rip. Nothing but the sound of your freehub and wind in your ears. Perfect.
Broken Dam requires a bit of climbing, but it isn’t too bad. This winds up jogging right and left onto Goldman, which leads you back to where you started.
Do it again.
For after-ride grub, I recommend heading back down Sir Francis Drake towards the 101, pass under the 101 like you were going to go visit San Quentin, and take the first left at the light. After you round the bend on your right is Marin Brewing Company. Their Mt. Tam Pale Ale is the best PA I have ever had, and their burgers are excellent and huge. If you sit outside and park in the right place, you can watch your bikes while you bask in the sunshine.
It’s good to be alive and living in the Bay Area.
Ride rating: Intermediate
Ride distance: 8 Elevation change:
El Santo a 32 year old URL: Friends of Tamarancho Map