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.
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.
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).
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 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).
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.
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.
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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