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Length 11 miles
Time 1.5 hours
Total Climb 850 feet
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Paradise Loop

This is a short and easy road loop around one of the most scenic parts of the bay. I'd claim that it's easy enough to be a family ride, but that's only true if you're okay with having your family riding on the side of a road together with motor-vehicle traffic (quite cozily in a few sections).

The name of the ride is not my invention. You will find countless sources that refer to this route as "Paradise Loop". More than five miles of the route does follow Paradise Drive. I'm sure it also doesn't hurt that the setting of the ride involves pretty landscapes, great views, and arguably gives a general impression of being a place where the living is easy.

For this ride, I started from Blackie's Meadow, near the intersection of Tiburon Boulevard (Route 131) with Trestle Glen Boulevard. Plenty of parking is available there. But, in case you might be interested in killing some time at a Tiburon cafe after returning to your car at the end of the ride, parking in and starting from downtown Tiburon might be a better option for you, though it'll be harder to find free parking there. You might want to check out my parking suggestions around downtown Tiburon for the Angel Island ride on this website if you're interested in pursuing that option. One more option for some of you could be to take a ferry to Tiburon to do the ride.

The ride starts on the paved Tiburon Historical Trail in "Tiburon Linear Park", which follows an old railroad right-of-way along the bay shore. This is a mellow and scenic stretch of the route, against views of Sausalito across Richardson Bay.

Near Belvedere, the ride begins to follow roads and take a minor detour through Belvedere. The side trip through Belvedere is an optional part of the loop. To bypass this part, you can simply continue straight into downtown Tiburon on Tiburon Boulevard and pick up the rest of the loop from there. If you bypass Belvedere, it will also shave almost 300 feet off the total climbing of what's already a very easy ride, in case you have an inexperienced rider accompanying you.

Right after you leave Belvedere behind, the route makes its way through the main density of the town of Tiburon. You'll pass by the quaint little Main Street on your right, just as you arrive at the roundabout where Tiburon Boulevard transforms into Paradise Drive. You won't have done too much mileage up to this point and you could have the chance to stop here after the ride anyway, but if you feel like making a brief stop here for some treats or sightseeing at this point, don't let those reasons stop you. Part of this is also a fairly scenic stretch, especially along Shoreline Park that's adjacent to the town center. You'll have views of Angel Island and San Francisco here, as well as the possibility of catching the sight of arriving and departing ferries.

The part of the ride shortly after passing Point Tiburon is the part where the road is at its narrowest. So, you might have to be especially watchful of traffic while riding through that portion. The scenery then changes in the second half of the loop, with more trees and no residences, as well as vistas of the opposite side of the bay compared to those from the first half of the ride.

The ride has no serious climbing to speak of (especially if you omit the portion through Belvedere). There are some mild ups and downs along the way but, after Belvedere, the grade barely ever reaches 10%, and that's only in a couple of spots and only for very short segments. Then, when you turn left upon reaching Trestle Glen Boulevard, a gentle climb over the backbone of the peninsula quickly ends the loop by dropping you back to your starting point.

You'd expect a loop on a coastal road around a peninsula to feature plenty of views and you'd be mostly correct. These views aren't as unbroken as you might assume, though. In the early stretches of the ride, you enjoy the scenery of Sausalito across the water, as seen from sea level. In the segment through Belvedere, there are only a handful of spots where you see any views. You start catching views of Angel Island and of the city when you reach the tip of the peninsula. The northeastern side of the loop features surprisingly few views (due to trees), though the one or two that you do get are quite nice.

The ride you see on this page is easy enough for inexperienced riders. Those who are interested in the route but would like a more substantial ride may be glad to hear that doing this loop by starting from San Francisco is possibly an even more iconic version of this ride, and it's an option that's very easy to recommend to anyone who can handle the extra mileage. The way I would prefer to do this version of the ride would start out like what I show for my "Golden Gate to Sausalito" ride, head directly to Sausalito from the northern end of the Golden Gate bridge, and then continue through Sausalito until you can pick up "Mill Valley - Sausalito Path" at Harbor Drive. This paved trail can take you all the way to East Blithedale Avenue and keep you away from car traffic for about three miles while doing that. Blithedale quickly transforms into Tiburon Boulevard, which will bring you straight to the beginning spot of the short loop you see on this page. Some may prefer a quieter and more scenic (though harder to follow) route to get there by turning right off the paved trail at the roundabout it reaches at Sycamore Avenue to take it to Hamilton Drive by crossing a bridge, and then turning right there to follow that road, get to the other side of the freeway via Redwood Highway Frontage Road, and follow Seminary Drive and East Strawberry Drive to reach Tiburon Boulevard.

If you do arrange your ride so as to look for some treats on the Tiburon Main Street after you've completed the loop, you won't have any shortage of options but I can quickly mention a couple of stand-outs. For a full-blown meal, Guaymas is an obvious recommendation. They are right at the edge of the water by the ferry pier, and even if their food weren't good (which it is), the views alone would make this option worth a try. As for coffee and a dizzying array of sweet temptations, the adjacent Caffe Acri is an elegant and cozy option that should not be missed. Both of these feature outdoor seating, which I would consider almost essential on a bright and sunny biking day in Tiburon.

© Ergin Guney


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