El Corte Madera Open Space Loop

 31 votes
Building Map
Loading Map Data
Map Settings
Featured Ride
Trail

11.5 Miles 18.4 Kilometers


70%

Singletrack

2,051' 625 m

Ascent

-2,051' -625 m

Descent

2,367' 722 m

High

1,324' 404 m

Low

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

19%

Max Grade (11°)

Minor Issues

28 days agoUpdate

A classic sampling of the great riding available at El Corte Madera Open Space preserve.

Brendan Busch

Overview

Some trails on this loop close in wet conditions. Check the MROSD website for the latest conditions. Helmets are required and the 15mph speed limit is enforced, especially on weekends.
This loop is a classic sampling of what El Corte de Madera (ECdM) Open Space has to offer. There are 3 fun downhills, 3 healthy climbs on maintained doubletrack, lots of singletrack and several trail-side attractions. The ride is plenty challenging, but avoids the most technical riding in the park.
Dogs: No Dogs

Need to Know

Navigating in ECdM is confusing. Pick up a map at the trailhead and pay attention to the intersections. There are lots of ways to end up very far downhill of your car.

Description

This loop starts from the new parking lot, about 1 mile south of Skeggs point. The ride first goes parallel to Skyline Blvd, so you can start from the other parking areas if you prefer or if the lot is full.

From the lot, ride the Sierra Morena Trail as it roughly parallels Skyline Blvd. It crosses the top of Gordon Mill Trail and then Methuselah Trail which are both fire roads you'll see more of later.

Trail-side attraction: straight across Skyline Blvd from the Methuselah Trail entrance is Methuselah, one of the few old-growth redwoods in the area.

Continue on the singletrack Sierra Morena Trail until it ends at Fir Trail Upper at the highest part of the park.

Turn left on Fir Trail Upper (doubletrack) and roll along to the Y-turnoff to Manzanita Trail. Stay right (uphill) on Fir Trail Upper and soon you reach a 4-way intersection. For this loop, you are aiming straight across the 4-way intersection for the Tafoni Trail

Two trail-side attractions are near this intersection: You can ride down Fir Trail another 1/4 mile to the vista point (picnic table, commemorative plaque), but will have to return to this intersection to continue the loop. Or you can visit the Tafoni sandstone formation a short way down the Tafoni Trail Lower.

Start down Tafoni Trail Lower. To visit the formation, stash your bike at the clearly marked 'no bicycle' trail and walk 0.1 mile to the caves. Or. continue to plummet down Tafoni using caution at a short section with loose rocks and small drops. After a rollicking section of singletrack, it meets with the singletrack El Corte de Madera Creek Trail.

Take a hard (hairpin) left at El Corte de Madera Creek Trail and keep tumbling downhill. The trail steepens as it becomes an old logging road and intersects with the bottom of the Resolution Trail--stay right and keep dropping downhill. Eventually, you'll cross the creek and have a nice climb out the other side of the canyon on a recently graded dirt road.

After a bit of climbing, turn left on the singletrack North Leaf Trail. Follow North Leaf as it frolics along watching for the occasional rock, root, drop or short climb. It will meet with Methuselah Trail--turn left and head downhill.

Methuselah is an old logging road, but rides like a singletrack and then it becomes properly singletrack and crosses the creek over two new wooden bridges. Get up your strength for the biggest climb of the day. It's less than 2 miles, but it will seem longer.

Climb on singletrack out of the creek, and then on maintained fire road. Near the top, it becomes quite steep and is made harder by a series of reverse drainage humps. Shortly afterward, you'll reach another 4-way intersection.

If you are dog tired, turn left and climb a short distance to the Fir Trail Upper (where you came in). Return to your car the way you came in. If you can muster one more (much shorter) climb then more fun trails await:

Turn right on the singletrack Manzanita Trail and enjoy some old-school Skeggs action. Beware of rocky sections, enjoy the view area, be challenged by a short steep upclimb, and enjoy plummeting through mixed forest until you are ejected onto Timberview Trail (maintained doubletrack).

Go left (the direction of the ejection) on Timberview and drop a quarter mile to an intersection at a sandy flat spot in the road. Take a hard right on the singletrack-ish Crosscut Trail. Shortly after, turn left and head downhill on the singletrack Crossover Trail. This fun little trail traverses back and forth a few times and then meets Gordon Mill Trail (maintained doubletrack).

Turn left (again, the direction of the ejection) and work uphill on Gordon Mill Trail back to Skyline Blvd. Gordon Mill has an even gentle grade its entire length and is a good way to ride uphill from the bottom of the park.

Achieve Skyline Blvd and take Sierra Morena Trail back to your car (right turn if you parked at the lot.).

History & Background

In the 1970s, this area was used by an off-road motorcycle group ("PITS") who developed an extensive network of (mostly very steep) trails. In the 1980s, as logging was winding down an early group of mountain bikers reclaimed many of these trails from the forest. Some examples of these early trails are part of this loop including the top of the Tafoni Trail and parts of the Manzanita Trail. For the adventuresome (don't go alone), the Fir Trail Lower is indicative of the steep character of the old motorcycle trails.

Many of these old trails are lost behind aging "trail closed" signs, but the open space has built some excellent and challenging new singletrack trails, including the Resolution Trail, Blue Blossom, Giant Salamander, and South Leaf Trail.

Contacts

Rate Featured Ride


   Clear

4.5 from 31 votes


Get On-Trail Navigation

Send to Phone
Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Dec 26, 2016
jiovanni pina
A few fallen trees.
Dec 22, 2016
Steve Gibson
11mi — 3h 00m
Dec 14, 2016
Steve Gibson
Dec 10, 2016
Kevin Doiron
12.5mi
Nov 25, 2016
ebtokyo mtb
Oct 29, 2016
Tobias Zeilinger
Oct 15, 2016
Fernando Seminario Junek
It was very wet and foggy throughout the trail. Pleasant in the valleys and precarious up in the ridges. Awesome trail! 11.5mi — 3h 00m
Oct 15, 2016
Zack Piper
pouring rain. awesome ride.

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 31 votes

#1

in Bay Area

#54

Overall
  4.5 from 31 votes
1 Star
3%
2 Star
0%
3 Star
3%
4 Star
32%
5 Star
61%
Rankings

#1

in Bay Area

#4

in California

#54

Overall
508 Views Last Month
21,005 Since Aug 17, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
6%
72%
22%
0%

Conditions


Minor Issues 28 days ago
Some Mud, Fallen Trees
Update ConditionsHistory

Getting forecast...

amazing place to ride. awesome flowing singletrack and you dart through the redwoods. Jun 14, 2016


Did this ride today. Amazingly beautiful forests! Great flowy trails. Aug 20, 2016


MTB Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Mountain Bike

MTB Project is supported by

Support Your Local IMBA Chapter