by Peter Holleran
After running the "Real" Bay to Breakers in July 2005 I thought of how to make such a run even more adventurous, and came up with the following. This longer course will allow one to go all the way from China Camp to Stinson Beach with less than one mile on sidewalk and pavement! It also takes advantage of the newly opened access to the White Hill FR from Loma Alta, thus taking one through even more beautiful, wild country. Informal aid stations or supply caches could be set up at the top of Sir Francis Drake Blvd (White Hill, 12 miles) and Alpine Dam (25 miles).
From Back Ranch Meadows take Shoreline trail to Bay View Trail, then right on Bayhills trail and left up Bayhills Drive. Go right on fireroad over San Pedro Ridge towards the Civic Center (veering right and down at the three-way FR junction or you will end up at Dominican College). Follow Civic Center Drive to railroad tracks and go west on tracks under 101 overpass. In about 0.25 miles look for short connector path on right to los Ranchitos. Go right one block then left on Golden Hinde, then left on Del Haro to MCOSD sign.
Take Memorial Trail to top of Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide; nearing summit veer right. Follow Ridge FR to end, then take Fawn Drive and right on Fox Lane to gate. Take Fox Trail to bike path. Cross bike path and continue on fireroad all the way west on the ridge to junction with Luis Ranch FR. Go left and continue up towards Loma Alta. You will go through two gates. Stay right on fireroad through private land up Loma Alta. While private this stretch has been used regularly. (The fireroad branching left approximately halfway up turns into a rough single track and is an alternate way to the top). Climb through the gate and continue straight over the summit veering right and down to another gate.
Turn left onto Smith Ridge FR and continue to the first junction (Gunshot FR); Go right on Gunshot FR, then right on Old White Hill Grade FR. Go left and cross under the bridge on the new White Hill trail and follow it up switchbacks, continuing left on the new Porcupine trail to White Hill FR; right on White Hill FR (with an optional detour to the summit of White Hill) two miles to San Geronimo Ridge FR. There is a terrific view to the south into the remote Pine Mt. area. I sighted two buck, three long-eared jackrabbits, one coyote and one bobcat my first time through. This new portion of the Bay Area Ridge Trail is the long awaited missing piece to this entire spectacular route, which one can now do without feeling like an interloper.
(An interesting alternative to the southerly descent of Smith Ridge FR on Loma Alta would be to take the undulating Dickson Ridge FR directly west four miles through private land (low-impact travel allowed by Spirit Rock Meditation Center) past Roy's Redwoods to Nicasio Valley Road. Dickson Ridge offers a sweeping view of San Geronimo Valley to the South, Big Rock Ridge to the north, and Barnabe and Black Mt. to the west. Several cattle gates must be climbed over. The final descent into Roy's Redwoods is quite steep. At the bottom of the FR follow Roy's Redwood Loop trail as it parallels Nicasio Valley Road to San Geronimo Golf Course. From there cross Sir Francis Drake Blvd. and take San Geronimo Valley Road (left), Sylvestrius Dr. (right), and Sylvestrius FR steeply up to San Geronimo Ridge. This option allows for an aid station in San Geronimo or a refueling stop at the golf course clubhouse where sandwiches and drinks are available.
Follow San Geronimo Ridge FR left for a mile or so and then right at its junction with White Hill FR, continuing to the top of the ridge where one turns right on Oat Hill FR; then right on Old Vee FR to Alpine-Kent Pump FR. (An interesting option passing through a wild and beautiful area would be taking the single track from Bathtub Gap down to Big Trees Camp, and then down Carson Falls Trail to the Pump FR, with hopefully, no one pitching over the falls!). Then go left two miles to Fairfax-Bolinas Road (Alpine Dam); Follow the road 0.2 miles to the Cataract trail. Left on Cataract trail to Laurel Dell FR; Right on Laurel Dell FR to Ridgecrest Blvd.; Cross Ridgecrest Blvd., go down 0.1 miles to Coastal trail; Left on Coastal 1.5 miles to Matt Davis trail; Right on Matt Davis 2.5 miles to end; go left 50 yards to Stinson Beach Fire Station.
This is a terrific route with gorgeous solitude and awesome vistas throughout. Logistics: approximately 31+ miles, one mile pavement and sidewalk, 6000 feet of ascent and descent, no water or food on route except aid stations and the golf course clubhouse. Additional aid could easily be set up at the top of the bike path off Freitas Parkway on the Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide and the top of Laurel Dell FR off Ridgecrest Blvd. I would really like to see this happen and think it would be great. I can only see one logistical hurdle for a major race: how to get everyone back to the start? Mmmm...I've got it - we could just make it a 100k!
(I secretly envision a colossal "Marin Peaks 100 Miler", incorporating all of the above and linking it with the East Peak of Tam, Bolinas Ridge, Wittenberg, Barnabe, Big Rock Ridge, Indian Tree, and Burdell! The weather would be more favorable and the aid stations easier to get to than in Western States. Hosting this would really put the Tamalpa Runners on the map.)