Sir Francis Drake Bikeway (Cross Marin Trail)

California

Sir Francis Drake Bikeway (Cross Marin Trail) Facts

States: California
Counties: Marin
Length: 5.3 miles
Trail end points: Shafter's Bridge, Park Rd. (Forest Knolls) and Platform Bridge Road (Tocaloma)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015313
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking

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Sir Francis Drake Bikeway (Cross Marin Trail) Description

The spectacular Sir Francis Drake Bikeway (also known as the Cross Marin Trail) sits on the recycled roadbed of the former North Pacific Coast Railroad, which used to run from Larkspur to Cazadero. This family-friendly rail-trail provides a safe and enjoyable way for visitors to access the swimming holes in Lagunitas Creek and the redwood groves that have made the park so popular.

At the southern trailhead, the path begins in dense woods. On your left are thick redwood stands cushioned by undergrowth of sorrel and an abundance of ferns. On your right is the lovely Lagunitas Creek. At mile 1.5, you arrive at a wooden bridge with a red SALMON CROSSING sign. Silver salmon and steelhead trout migrate up Lagunitas Creek to spawn during the winter, and this is the first of several spots along the trail where you can view them. If you are lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of the beavers that sometimes work in the area.

At about mile 2 the road becomes paved and you reach Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Samuel Taylor, an entrepreneur from Boston, struck it rich during the California gold rush. He used a portion of his wealth to create a resort and recreational campground called Camp Taylor, which was one of the first sites in the country to offer camping as a recreational activity. In the 1870s and 1880s, it was quite popular for families to take the railroad out to Camp Taylor for the weekend.

Continuing on, you pass the Redwood Grove Group Picnic area on the right and another campsite 0.25 mile farther. When the weather is nice, the campgrounds are usually full, though the campers and facilities do not detract from the natural beauty of this wooded area. Oak, tanoak, madrone, live oak, laurel and Douglas-fir are all visible along the path. The path is also lined with California native buttercups, Indian paintbrush and milkmaids. Black-tailed deer is the most common animal in the park and often can be spotted from the trail.

You pass another restroom at mile 3. The last 2.3 miles of the trail are paved and shaded by the cool redwood groves it parallels. If you aren't ready to turn around at the endpoint, you can extend your trail day exploring the numerous trail networks in the vicinity.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the southern trailhead from US 101, exit on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Head west on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard toward San Anselmo for about 18 miles. At the intersection of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and Platform Bridge Road turn left. The trailhead is at the end of the short metal bridge on your right. On the left is a small parking lot with a one-hour limit. There are various places to pull off and park along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard without time limits.

To reach the northern trailhead from US 101, exit on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Drive past the intersection of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and Platform Bridge Road, crossing over a concrete bridge. Shortly after crossing the bridge you see an unmarked road on your right. Turn right on this road then turn left and park on an abandoned concrete street. Walk toward an old bridge. The trail entrance is marked with a large sign that says CROSS MARIN TRAIL.

Sir Francis Drake Bikeway (Cross Marin Trail) Reviews

The trail has beginnings at Shafter Bridge, just West of Lagunitas on Sir Francis Drake Blvd . A salmon viewing spot at the bridge has limited 2 hour parking. If parking here, you must cross Sir Francis Drake to the foot, bicycle bridge over the creek. Riding west for about 2 miles on well maintained dirt path, you reach Samuel P. Taylor State Park--no fee to ride through the park, where the path becomes paved. The paved section is about 3 miles long running from the park to Platform Bridge Road, where there is also parking.
Beautiful trail--Redwoods, grasslands, oaks and the entire trail runs beside Lagunitas Creek.
There is no longer a "dead end" as a bridge has been built across the creek near Shafter Bridge. Enjoy--easy flat ride for all levels.

This trail is paved and virtually flat going through Golden Gate Recreation Area and Samuel P. Park. From Platform Bridge at intersection of Platform Bridge Road and Sir Francis Drake Blvd. to campground and park headquarters is paved--very scenic, following Lagunitas Creek through Redwoods. Beyond the Samuel P. Park Group Picnic area the trail is packed gravel. It will have some puddles after rain. The path ends at a new bicycle, pedestrian bridge crossing Lagunitas Creek at Sir Francis Drake Blvd. near the town of Lagunitas. By entering at Platform Bridge, there is no fee to go through the park. You can access the path by entering Samuel P. Park at main entrance off of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. There is a day use fee required to enter at this point.
There are mountain bike options leading off of this trail in to Golden Gate Recreation Area, for experienced riders--uphill!!

"Can't wait for this one to be completed. If you try to bike here from SF, be advised you have to travel many miles on the shoulder of a rather busy road before you get here. Also, be advised that travelling east on the trail, you must exit at the group picnic area, if you try and go further you wind up at a dead end and must backtrack for over a mile to get back to the road!"

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