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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I saw big_mountain_biker's post about easy mtb trails in the SF Bay I thought.."what perfect timing!" It looks like almost all the suggestions in that post surround the South Bay though. My wife is interested in giving mountain biking another shot after my unsuccessful attempt to try and get her into it with a ride at Arastradero about two years ago. At the time, I thought that Arastradero would be a decent first "go-around", but that was far from the case....without getting into a lot of details it didn't go so well.

We live in the Dublin/Pleasanton area now, so I thought I would post another version for the East Bay folks. The problem with the local rides like Diablo and Pleasanton Ridge, while technically easy and mostly fire road, are are just too damn steep for her to enjoy herself (at least initially).

Does anyone have any suggestions for some mellow rides in the East Bay?

Thanks,
MSH
 

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Borgess Ranch, which leads into Diablo from Walnut Creek. First few miles are very easy climbing and nicely shaded.
 

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MSH said:
We live in the Dublin/Pleasanton area now, so I thought I would post another version for the East Bay folks. The problem with the local rides like Diablo and Pleasanton Ridge, while technically easy and mostly fire road, are are just too damn steep for her to enjoy herself (at least initially).

Does anyone have any suggestions for some mellow rides in the East Bay?

Thanks,
MSH
Let's use some qualifiers to iron it down to what are appropriate trails for you to take your wife on. What distances/riding time is she capable of on say the Iron Horse trail? That should be the first place to start, since the Iron Horse is just about flat.

There is not an abundance of less-aerobic actual dirt trail in the East Bay. Even the East/West Ridge loop in Redwood can be completely daunting for some of its climbs even though it is relatively easy.

Borgess is a good choice but if she is capable of going a pretty good distance, she'll get bored easily.

I would recommend taking her to China Camp in San Rafael. Sure it's not all that close but you can make options out of it. I have taken my mostly non-riding wife from Miwok Meadows down to the China Camp Beach which is roughly 3.5 miles in each direction with some moderate switchbacks and mostly easy climbs. If she digs it and wants to go on, there are several other trails with only moderate hills at China Camp.

Another choice would be Coyote Hills in Fremont. http://www.ebparks.org/files/EBRPD_files/brochure/coyote.pdf

Moderate hills and some good scenery. You might even catch a breeze off the Bay on an otherwise hot day.
 

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baycat said:
Redwood Parks. Do the ridge loop. About ~11 miles and then you can venture into Joaquin Miller Park for some singletrack.
Warning: There is a chunk of steep riding on this loop, Canyon trail if going counterclockwise, the first part of West Ridge if going clockwise. It'll be really hard for a newbie - she likely would have to walk. Not where I'd take a new-to-dirt new-to-cycling person if I wanted them to really enjoy it.

I might start with nearly flat out and backs. Like Tennessee Valley in Marin out from the parking lot to the beach. It's a drive, but that way you can integrate a picnic lunch and time together at the ocean. Get the cycling associated with all the good feelings from a romantic-ish lunch with the spouse. Then once the good vibes are built up, start adding in more pure cycling stuff, but still taking it very slowly.

My wife and I used to road ride a lot. Then she stopped for a winter and did a lot of snowboarding. Her cycling fitness dropped. During that time I got in much better shape. When she started to pick it up again, she hated the fact that she was laboring up hills while I was having an easy time with them. That frustration nearly completely stopped her riding. A tandem is what we've been using recently to even out the effort levels while keeping us together. It's been all about keeping any pressure out of the situation and making the rides fun. Now she's the one wanting to head out together on weekends and extend the rides. :)

Sorry I'm not more helpful with easy dirt routes in the East Bay. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
great suggestions all..really appreciate it

Dan'ger...yes, we have done Iron Horse from Dublin up to Walnut Creek and back, but I think she is ready to take on something a bit more challenging. I just don't want to make the same mistake as last time and take her on something too difficult...baby steps I suppose. We'll probably give China Camp a shot.

Thanks,
MSH
 

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I can suggest the following:
- bay trail from San Leandro Marina to the San Mateo bridge as an out and back. It's all flat and the first couple miles are paved. That's where I started and it's completely flat. The good thing is that the whole trail runs alongside the bay (and an old dump at some point). Anyway, it's fairly scenic and a good way to get a beginner into it. The only caveat is that the wind blows southward, especially in the afternoon, which means that going back toward San Leandro, you have a nasty headwind to deal with.
- Oyster Bay also in San Leandro. It's an old dump by the bay about a mile from Oakland Airport. Anyway, it has a little elevation (about 30-40'), and I take my 8yo son riding there because it's dirt and he can go up and down. It's all fireroad, and can be fun for a beginner. Even though it's by the water, it's not that scenic. It's a favorite spot of the local dog owners.

On a side note, what's up with all those dumps that were built on the bay shores?
 

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It doesn't get easier than these, folks: Lower Tilden/Wildcat Canyon: Brook Road parking lot > Wildcat Gorge > Jewel Loop Road > Wildcat Creek > Alvarado Staging. Diablo Foothills: Stage Road Trail, start out from Castle Rock parking lot. Those or a couple of loops at Point Pinole or Tubbs Island (technically North Bay)
 

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MSH said:
Where do you access Borgess Ranch? I've done searches here, Yahoo, google...can't find anything. Does anyone have a weblink and/or directions to the start?

Thanks,
MSH
That would be my fault because I mis-stated the the park. It is actually Castle Rock park that you park in, then go into Diablo Foothills Park (Borges is right next to Castle Rock). The trail is called the Stage Road. Here is a link to directions and to the maps page for Diablo Foothills.

http://www.ebparks.org/parks/castle_rock

http://www.ebparks.org/parks/diablo_foothills

http://www.ebparks.org/parks/maps#C
 

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My favorite east bay park is Redwood/Joaquin Miller. You can make the rides as easy or as hard as you like. In most all the east bay parks there are going to be some decent climbs.

There is a fairly easy loop at the lesser known park of Anthony Chabot. When I was starting out I would park at the Clyde Wood Ridge Staging Area. Take Jackson Grade down to Brandon and then over to Grass Valley Trail. If she is still rarin' to go you can extend the loop by riding out on Goldenrod after you finish the initial loop.

Lake Chabot is great too but the climb up Brandon can be a bit tough on some.

The front side of China Camp is also great but some beginners find the drop off and switchbacks too challenging.
 

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i'd second diablo foothills park..

you go past the old borges entrance to the end of the road where diablo foothills staging area is....there's an out and back that i've done with my son and wife, both on foot and on the bikes. it's very flat, beautiful through the trees with castle rock on your left (on the outbound). there are also about 8 stream crossings, fun and not much of an issue this time of year (and walkable). it's probably only about 7-8 miles out and back total, but no climbing of any magnitude. and if you want to do some more terrain there are plenty of trails coming off this one that you can do (but which start to get aerobic)....
 

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msrutzie said:
My favorite east bay park is Redwood/Joaquin Miller. You can make the rides as easy or as hard as you like. In most all the east bay parks there are going to be some decent climbs.

There is a fairly easy loop at the lesser known park of Anthony Chabot. When I was starting out I would park at the Clyde Wood Ridge Staging Area. Take Jackson Grade down to Brandon and then over to Grass Valley Trail. If she is still rarin' to go you can extend the loop by riding out on Goldenrod after you finish the initial loop.

Lake Chabot is great too but the climb up Brandon can be a bit tough on some.

The front side of China Camp is also great but some beginners find the drop off and switchbacks too challenging.
Those are fun parks, but they're a bit out of beginner range (i.e. not much climbing), unless you do a short out and back somewhere that avoids most of the hills. The Redwood loop is 1250'. A short loop at Chabot is 1000-1500' depending on the route. While it's no big deal for fit riders, it'll suck for somebody who's not used to it.
 

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zorg said:
Those are fun parks, but they're a bit out of beginner range (i.e. not much climbing), unless you do a short out and back somewhere that avoids most of the hills. The Redwood loop is 1250'. A short loop at Chabot is 1000-1500' depending on the route. While it's no big deal for fit riders, it'll suck for somebody who's not used to it.
I guess it's relative. These are all loops/parks I did my very first time owning a mountain bike. I take unfit newbies on the same trails and they all do fine. We go at their pace and stop to rest when/if needed.
 

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It's a long haul, but Wilder Ranch is pretty mellow technically and aerobically. Saratoga Gap is also fairly flat (probably flatter), but there is single track with some rooty and rocky sections. If she can deal with that it's a really pretty ride. The east bay pretty much stinks for mellow rides (from a climbing standpoint).
 

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Benicia State Park

Five mile loop at Benicia State Park, paved for the beginning, then attaches to the Benicia Bay Trail which is a gentle hardpack trail that follows along the Carquinez Straight. Some climbs, but only like 3%. Great views, and if she's not tired when you get done, do it again ;)
 
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