San Francisco Peninsula | South Bay: (click on area names for more information)
Arastradero Preserve, Palo Alto:The 609-acre Arastradero Preserve lies in the Palo Alto foothills. It offers rolling grassland fireroads and a fair amount of fun singletrack. In muddy seasons be aware that many of the trails become quite rutted. It's best to avoid riding the more-sensitive trails during the winter.
El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve (Skeggs Point), Woodside: Many riders feel that El Corte de Madera is the best mountain biking anywhere close to San Francisco. It's easy to know why once you've ridden here. Situated in 2,800 acres of 2nd-growth redwoods with opportunities for ocean views, the setting couldn't be better. Miles upon miles of blazing-fast fire roads and quite a bit of challenging, legal singletrack await the rider who has the legs and the lungs to climb back out of the steep valley in the center of the Preserve. Terrain difficulty ranges from 'kid-friendly' to 'hang on for dear life'. Many other great riding spots are located along Skyline Blvd such as the Monte Bello, Long Ridge, and Saratoga Gap Preserves.
Fremont Older Preserve, Cupertino: Offering great views of the Santa Clara Valley, this 739 acre preserve contains legal fire road and singletrack riding. With some challenging climbing in the open grasslands and easy connections to Stevens Creek Dam this park is well-used by both mountain bikers and equestrians. Yielding right-of-way to horses is crucial when riding here.
Montara Mountain State Beach, Pacifica: Majestically located on the Pacific Coast, Montara Mountain and McNee Ranch State Parks combine with San Pedro Valley County Park to offer a variety of riding in a gorgeous setting. Everything from rolling fire roads to brutally challenging singletrack can be found here if one is adventurous enough to explore. Terrain varies in wildly in difficulty with plenty of climbing to be found along this northern spur of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Russian Ridge Preserve, Palo Alto: This 1,500 acre preserve offers 8 miles of open, rolling fire roads. The real treat here is the scenery as the park provides gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains, and has one of the best populations of wildflowers in the entire Bay Area.
San Francisco Trails: There are many small sections of trail riding throughout the city of San Francisco. Although one typically has to ride some pavement to connect them, Golden Gate Park, Land's End, Lincoln Park, the Presidio, Twin Peaks, and Buena Vista Park all have areas of trail riding. In some places legal bike trails are clearly defined while in others the trails are open to interpretation. In all cases please remember to ride responsibly.
Santa Teresa County Park, Southern San Jose: All of this park's 14 miles of trails are open to bikes currently. The terrain is mostly fire road, with various smaller trails. Expect rolling terrain with some moderate climbing.
Soquel State Demonstration Forest, Santa Cruz Mountains: This beautiful and remote park is connected to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, making some epic-length riding possible. With screaming-fast fire roads and some of the area's best technical singletrack, the riding here is well worth the trip. Expect a lot of elevation change as well.
Water Dog Lake Park, Belmont: This small park contains both dirt road & singletrack hardpack riding along a ridgeside with some relatively challenging climbs. A small land of dirt jumps can be found behind nearby Belmont High. Edges of the park are up against houses, apartments, and condos, making it an bit of an island in the midst of suburbia.
Wilder Ranch State Park, West of Santa Cruz: The terrain in this popular mtb spot ranges from open, grassy benchlands above the farms along the beach, to some trail right above the beachside bluffs, to deep redwood-filled canyons. Climbing is moderate (highest elevation ~ 800ft). The many trails provide a reasonable amount of nice and challenging forested singletrack with several creek crossings, some dry, some wet.