Cycling the Golden Gate Bridge

posted in: Cycling, USA | 36

As San Francisco is probably one of the top cities in the United States for outdoor living, health and fitness, then its no wonder we recommend visitors to this amazing place to hire a bike and check out some of the top sights along the way. One of the best cycling (and highly recommended) routes is from Fisherman’s Wharf to Sausalito on the other side of the bay via the Golden Gate Bridge. We hired our bikes from a company called Blazing Saddles, a couple of blocks away from the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf.

The bikes we hired from Blazing Saddles

Here the staff were very helpful, managed to get the right size bikes for us and other equipment fitted and needed such as helmets (think safety as well as fun guys!), explain routes and how to use the ferry from the north side of the bay back to Fisherman’s Wharf (to which the ferry tickets are not included in the price if used but can be all sorted at the time of payment) and a very good easy payment system. To be honest we were in and out of there within fifteen minutes.

Cycling through Crissy Fields

The highlight for all bike hire users has to be the Golden Gate bridge but before reaching the structure, there is three miles to cycle. The great thing about this cycle route is that it’s all cycle tracks all the road and not many roads to cycle on. First off we cycled through the Marina District and saw many beautiful yachts as well as seeing Alcatraz in the bay. Before we knew it we were in Crissy Fields and the Golden Gate Bridge was getting closer and closer (and even more beautiful).

The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge

There is a bit of an uphill to reach the Golden Gate but to be honest, it’s worth stopping of here for one of the best photogenic views around. At the top is a visitor centre all about the beach (and a good place to buy refreshments) before cycling underneath the bridge and looping back round on the other side. The ocean side of the bridge is dedicated to cyclists only (the pedestrians have the bay side of the bridge) where there are passing places to stop at to have even more great views (or to try and catch your breath back). The first part of the bridge is uphill, then the middle is flat (but be careful of the crosswinds) and the third part of the bridge is all downhill. The distance is only side to the other is nearly two miles but it’s worth every bit of effort.

The Golden Gate Bridge

The fun doesn’t stop once the bridge has been cycled over. The next place to get awesome views (and to look back where we cycled from) is at the Vista Point. This is one of the most popular viewpoints in the city and is worth checking out. After basking the glory of the bridge and taking in the sun rays it was time to head to the ferry in Sausalito. The fun part of the ride was pedaling downhill from the North Tower Golden Gate Parking lot (the other side of the road from the Vista Point) and heading down a track all the way to the bottom of the hill, going underneath Route 101 and coming out at Horseshoe Bay (and once again, another place to get views of the bridge and Downtown San Francisco across the bay).

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the north
Doesn’t matter what angle we saw the bridge, it is always amazing
The Golden Gate Bridge

Cycling pass Fort Baker and Bay Area museum, the cycle route follows the road but unfortunately for those who are not used to riding bikes, a long hard push up a hill is needed before rolling downhill to Sausalito. Here by the Bayfront there is lots of restaurants, coffee shops on offer if there is a wait needed for the ferry. Bicycle racks can be found at the ferry port (to which locks are provided when renting out the bikes). We decided to check out a coffee shop which is directly opposite the ferry port and it is here that tea and cake was very much needed.

Fort Baker
Fort Baker – a view across San Francisco Bay

The ferry ride is a pleasant affair and depending which one you get on (the tickets provided by Blazing Saddles is valid on any company), there may not be a direct ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf but a slower ferry which goes across the bay to Tiburon (which is another fantastic small settlement with quality restaurants and nice hotels by the water) and Angel Island before heading across the bay. During the daytime, the ferries pass Alcatraz and this is the best time to get a good up-close view of the place.

A view of Downtown San Francisco across the bay from Sausalito
A view of Alcatraz Island from the ferry

Overall we were pleased to use Blazing Saddles as the cycle hire company of choice. Their professionalism, regards to safety as well as making all the important information sound like fun was very welcoming and the equipment itself, from the bikes, helmets and locks was very well maintained. The route itself is awesome but a word of warning for beginners or for those who haven’t touched two wheels in quite a while, this can be challenging but the rewards are worth it. If you liked our cycle adventure in San Francisco, why not check out our hiking post along the California Coastal Trail, which is another great way to get away from the urban sprawl and check out the ocean views, different natural landscape and of course, the Golden Gate Bridge. Read our post here

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36 Responses

  1. I have just crossed that golden gate once. I am sure it would be fun to do it on bicycles. All the places on your route look so refreshing that one feels like picking up a cycle and following your trail. Marking it for as and when I get to be back in San Francisco.

  2. That is a fun way to see the outstanding landscape and city views and make your way down to Sausalito. I’ve done this a few times and cheat by taking a ferry back to the city which makes this a really pleasant return not to bike uphill.

  3. That’s awesome you crossed it by bike! I’m sure you got an awesome view going across and a great workout too. We’ve only passed it by car and walked a small part of it. San Francisco is a city we really enjoy!

  4. Oh my gosh! Thank you for this timely post. My SO is a student at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa for the next 18 months and are creating our CA must-do list. Now I can add one more thing thanks to your post.

  5. Biking the Golden gate Bridge is a bucket list item for sure. I love Sausalito, so many great galleries and the houseboats are so much fun to explore

  6. We visited the Golden Gate Bridge, but biking it looks like the way to go! I love all the other stop suggestions you provided outside of just the bridge. Will definitely check this out the next time we make it back to San Fran!

  7. Wow, what a perfectly sunny day to cycle around the city. San Francisco is my favorite city in the U.S. and I have it explored it many times, but never by bicycle. Now I have another reason to return, thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. You got such a nice clear day! We went to SF twice – once for a 6 hour layover where it was rainy and gray, and once for about a week. We sailed under the bridge twice – thankfully the first time was beautiful and sunny but the second time was so foggy we couldn’t see any part of the bridge as we went under.

  9. Thanks for the shout-out, and we’re thrilled you enjoyed the ride! Just a quick correction that the ferry tickets are not included with the bike rental pricing, as the ferry is a separate company. We do pre-purchase the ferry tickets so our riders can get them from us in the bike shop, though!

    • Oppsie. Miss out a word. It is now corrected. 🙂 Thanks for the heads up 🙂

  10. Megan Jerrard

    Thanks for the tip on Blazing Saddles – we really loved the experience of walking over the Golden Gate Bridge, though didn’t venture too far past the bridge itself because it was a hot day and a long walk! Would love to head back and tackle it on a bike. Looks like you had a beautiful day!

  11. Tracey Kent

    This is a fantastic way to see the bridge, Sausalito and experience incredible views of San Francisco. Take the ferry back to San Fran from Sausalito after having lunch. Cycling the bridge Is a must do in my opinion.

  12. I am sure it would be fun to do it on bicycles.

  13. I really don’t know how to bike (I’ve made some life decisions before between choosing to learn to ride the bike and swimming, that the latter was way more important. LOL), however this post has made me realise that maybe I’m missing something really fun (and totally good for the health) activity! Truly, a fun way to experience an iconic structure like the Golden Gate Bridge! Good to know that there are plenty of cool sights to see around the bridge too. 🙂

  14. Sausalito looks gorgeous! We sadly didn’t bike across the bridge when we visited – but I can definitely see why it is an absolute must when we return! What an exciting adventure! Looks like you had sunny and clear weather, also! 🙂

  15. The route looks beautiful! San Fransisco is one of the places in the US I still have to visit. It’s awesome to see photos of the bridge at angles other than the typical mainstream tourist-friendly one. It really is great to see at these angles too. And those trees in Sausalito are wild!!

  16. I lived in San Francisco for two years and never did this! It’s always weird being a tourist in your own city, but I am really bummed I never did it. The Golden Gate is so gorgeous and majestic I’m sure cycling across it was an amazing experience. I’ve been to Sausalito once and it is such a gorgeous town! If I ever make it back to SF I’ll be sure to check out Blazing Saddles.

  17. Such a great and inspirational article! Thank you for sharing! The pictures are amazing too, San Francisco is indeed one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing US cities and some cycling via the Golden Gate bridge along with the beauty of the surrounding seems like a must do, when in SF.

  18. I didn’t know that cycling around could be an amazing way to explore the golden gate bridge. Love the views of the bridge in the pictures! And kudos to you for cycling all the way. I wouldn’t probably go along for so long! Sausalito looks lovely too.

  19. I love cycling and would definitely do this. What a fabulous way to be able to take in all of the Golden Gate Bridge from so many different viewpoints. The other scenery is captivating as well.

  20. This is something I totally want to do – I’ve never been to San Fran before but I heard it’s amazing and graet for those who want to live sustainably.

  21. This is the point where I kick myself for never learning how to ride a cycle. But, I loved the photos, and this definitely looks like a fun way to cross the golden gate bridge.

  22. Now this is totally interesting! I usually just see photos of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, not the chance to bike over it! That sounds like a blast and a unique way to explore! Great post!

  23. What a great idea to cycle the Golden Gate bridge. The view are definitely worth it. I remember walking it and we did see a lot of cyclists around but we didn’t do it ourselves, we preferred the walk instead 🙂 I love your pictures!

  24. I’ve been to San Francisco so many times and never crossed the bridge by bike! I really wish I had the opportunity to do so one day. The view of the golden gate bridge from Crissy Field is beautiful.

  25. So glad you got a sunny day – rather than a foggy one – to enjoy the views on your trip. The name of the bike hire place is brilliant!

  26. Cracking views from the top and that is a great skyline too! Looks like a real good day overall!

  27. Loved doing this when we were there. We set out from Fishies on a very foggy morning and rode over the bridge just as the fog was starting to lift. It was magical. We had lunch in Sausalito and we bought two “faces” made out of recycled beer bottles that had been coloured and put on stands for a candle to go behind them. We have them on display in a prominent location in our house, forever reminding us of our bike ride over this great icon.

  28. Sausalito is a beautiful town. When I was there years ago they were very against franchises and had a great little burger restaurant. Is it still there? It had a rotating grill where they made the burgers? Golden gate park is amazing as well. I think you would be pretty hard pressed to find a bad angle of the Golden Gate Bridge.

  29. Ha! That’s a cool way to explore San Francisco! For someone who’s never been to USA, this is an awesome virtual tour you’re giving me! I’ve been reading a bit about Alcatraz Island these days. Let’s see when I get to go!

  30. I would absolutely LOVE to cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge some day. I’m not that big of a cyclist though so I’d probably want to rent my bike from the touristy spot rather than the place you guys did 3 miles away 🙂 but still, these photos and your descriptions are enough to sell me on the experience!

  31. Wow the view is absolutely amazing! Great pictures! I have yet been to San Francisco yet but when I do I will definitely ride it! Thank you for the recommendation!

  32. Thank you guys for sharing this. I haven’t been to San Francisco yet, so this is a great tip to visit the Golden Gate. I just hope I’m lucky with the weather like you when I go, you got very nice pics and it seemed you had a great time there! 🙂

  33. San Fran and the Golden Gate Bridge have proved elusive thus far on my travels. I hope to rectfify that this year and I cant imagine a better way than cycling across it

  34. Hi!
    Looks like the best way to see San Fran! Great photos and I really lile the one from under the bridge on the bike path! Ill have to check out this bike riding stuff on my next trip there. I havnt bern to Tiburon yet. On my list!
    Thanks! Dee

  35. Wow the view is absolutely amazing

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