Flat, smooth, carless and long bike rides in the Bay?
July 10, 2010 8:01 PM   Subscribe

Bay Area-centric/Bike-centric question: I love to go for bike rides with my 7 year old. She's usually up for about 5 miles, but is interested in going farther and so am I (with breaks). She gets discouraged if there are a lot of hills or if the road is rough. So far the best routes have been on the completed chunks of the Bay Trail because they are flat, paved, pedestrian/bike only (no cars) and have nice views. Can you suggest any other spots for this kind of low-key but long-lasting bike ride in the greater Bay Area? Are there websites or books I should look to for more ideas?
posted by serazin to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Bay Trail from the San Leandro Marina to the San Mateo Bridge is pretty interesting: There's a big expanse of salt marsh between the Trail and dry land most of the way, so you're out with the seabirds and grass and snails and far from the buzz of traffic.

The trail up and down Alameda Creek through Fremont is worth a try, too. It extends along Alameda Creek Quarries Regional Park, which is a surprising landscape to discover in the Bay Area, and there's a rail yard on the south side of the creek west of Mission Boulevard that that's both fun and safe for a seven-year-old to poke around.

Further north, there's a maze of paths in Point Pinole Regional Park that are flat and well-maintained, and a long fishing pier to explore, as well as a bunch of old dynamite factory foundations and ruins. In the spring, they bring in a big herd of goats to trim the grass -- a swell thing to happen upon for an adult on a bike, let alone a kid.
posted by gum at 8:19 PM on July 10, 2010

have you considered the Iron Horse trail, which runs from Dublin to Walnut Creek? It's dead flat, reasonably pretty, is close to potential amenities in a lot of places (sandwich shops, parks to picnic or use the bathroom in), and is very easily bart-accessible on both ends. The only downside is that there are a LOT of street crossings. If you don't have it yet, the EBBC East of the Hills Bike Map is a good resource of this kind of thing.
posted by juliapangolin at 8:37 PM on July 10, 2010

The Los Gatos creek trail is flat and a decent ride. If you start on the San Jose end, you can send time cruising around the trails in Vasona Park at the other end, before you head back. There are a couple places where you have to walk your bike through some gates, but all in all, it's a pretty nice ride. Also, Vasona park has a great antique carousel if you are into that kind of thing. :)
posted by Edubya at 8:48 PM on July 10, 2010

Baylands Preserve in Palo Alto. It's flat, mostly paved (or at least with crushed gravel), and has good birds, especially in the fall and winter. Check out Bay Area Hiker for more ideas - if you sort by difficulty, you can skim for distance/paving/elevation change, and most of the individual write-ups will probably tell you which trails allow bikes.

Oh, and Coyote Hills has a lot of flat trails, and it's (nearly?) all bike-friendly.
posted by rtha at 8:50 PM on July 10, 2010

Although not perfectly flat, the southern portion of Sawyer Camp Trail along Crystal Springs Reservoir is a beautiful, popular and paved multi-use trail. It's ~5 miles from the southern gate to the base of the climb to the Upper Reservoir, which is a good turn around point, although of course you can turn around at any time. We take our 6 and 9 year olds there often to bike around.

The Bay Trail around Foster City, and north from Foster City to Coyote Point is also very flat and a nice ride; we take our kids there as well.
posted by mosk at 9:02 PM on July 10, 2010

Iron Horse trail in eastern alameda / contra costa counties is accessible from some BART stations.
posted by slidell at 10:11 PM on July 10, 2010

The Cross Marin Trail is great.
posted by harmfulray at 8:03 AM on July 11, 2010

Response by poster: These all look wonderful; I'm so glad I asked! I think we'll work our way through each of these (and whatever other suggestions follow). We're off to Alameda Creek trail shortly for a long ride ending at a swim at Quarry Lakes! Will report on that and other rides after I've tried a few.
posted by serazin at 8:25 AM on July 11, 2010

Canada (there should be a ~ over the n) Road is mostly closed to traffic on Sunddays and is taken over by bike riders. It has rolling hills and the views are typical for that part of the Bay Area (really nice, IOW). Seconding Sayer Camp Trail (I run there all the time and there are tons of bike riders).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:11 AM on July 11, 2010

Response by poster: I just want to follow up to say I refer back to this post frequently, and have been grateful for all these wonderful suggestions. So far we've done CaƱada Road, Iron Horse Trail (parts of it), Coyote Hills, Baylands Preserve, Alameda Creek, Point Pinole, and several other stretches of the Bay Trail. Still have more to check out, but my kid and I (and our respective mental and cardiovascular health) thank you!
posted by serazin at 2:08 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

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