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If you're looking for a gentle rail-trail in Marin County that offers stunning views of both San Francisco Bay and Mt. Tamalpais, the Old Rail Trail is for you. Known alternately as the Tiburon Historical Trail, the Tiburon Bike Path, and the Tiburon Linear Park, the trail begins at Blackie's Pasture, a scenic landing named after a celebrated swaybacked, retired cavalry horse named "Blackie" that once roamed here.
Soon after beginning the trail you pass the coastal mudflats of Richardson Bay, transition zones between land and sea that host a wide variety of plants and wildlife. A bird—and birder's—paradise, Richardson Bay hosts more than 1 million migratory birds every year, along with a diverse mix of year-round residents, including great blue herons, snowy egrets and red-tailed hawks. Breathtaking views of the bay start here, and they stay with you for the remainder of the trail.
The Old Rail Trail passes a number of playgrounds, small parks and playing fields, so it's family-friendly and a great destination for a picnic or afternoon outing. It's also popular with cyclists and joggers, and with a paved section for cyclists and a wide dirt shoulder for walkers and joggers, there's ample room for both. The trail runs along the coast through Tiburon and into Belvedere. Now among the most exclusive communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, both had humble beginnings.
In the early 1900s, Tiburon was a blue-collar railroad town, with cargo trains running daily. One of the railroad's "most famous deliveries" was Al Capone, who was carried by train to Alcatraz in 1934. Belvedere, meanwhile, once hosted the ever-pungent McCollam Fish Factory.
At about mile 2, the path becomes an on-street bike lane along Tiburon Boulevard. Continue into downtown Tiburon and the trail's end in Shoreline Park at the ferry terminal. Here you'll find more great views of the bay, a host of restaurants and shops and the perfect spot to watch the sun set. The terminal is also a great launching point for more adventures: you can take a ferry to nearby Angel Island or San Francisco or continue along the Paradise Loop, a popular on-street route for cyclists.
The Tiburon Historical Trail is also a component of the San Francisco Bay Trail, a developing effort to create a 500-mile multiuse trail encircling its namesake bay.
The trailhead is at the southern end of the parking lot on Tiburon Boulevard, near Blackie's Pasture. View the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions.
Two large grassy areas to play or picnic, easy parking, and a large playground with up-to-date equipment and a bathroom. And at one end there is the ferry and a gelato shop nearby the railway museum (which we spent a lot of time in). Have to get there or leave when there's not a rush hour because Marin traffic is the worst, but we loved it. Only lost a star because part of the trail is a bike lane on a major street, not good for younguns - we stayed on the sidewalk even though we are not supposed to. It's a pretty small part.
This trail passes along the bay on the route to Tiburon. The last mile is a bike lane along Tiburon Blvd. Lots of nice views. There are nice restaurants and shops in downtown Tiburon.
Connections from the trail to Mill Valley are somewhat tricky. There are shoulders along busy Tiburon Blvd. There is a signed bike route along Belvedere Dr, but then there is a long stretch along 101 frontage roads to reach a connection to the Mill Valley trail. Tiburon Blvd is the shorter and perhaps prefered connection. I suggest printing a street map of the area ahead of time.
A nice loop starting in San Francisco. Start on the Embarcadero Trail, cross the Golden Gate Bridge, ride through Sausalito, then the Mill Valley Trail, connect to the Tiburon Trail into Tiburon, and catch a ferry back to San Francisco.
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