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Lucas Valley Loop

 11 votes

Length

14.9 Miles 23.9 Kilometers


35%

Singletrack

Elevation

2,977' 907 m

Ascent

-2,975' -907 m

Descent

8%

Avg Grade (4°)

23%

Max Grade (13°)

1,842' 562 m

High

149' 45 m

Low

Conditions


All Clear 36 days ago
Dry, Mostly Dry History

Getting forecast...

A scenic and fun loop that incorporates two of the few singletrack trails in Marin, not Tamarancho.

Jackson Ratcliffe

Overview

Outside of China Camp State Park and Tamarancho, there are not a lot of bike-legal singletrack trails in Marin, but this loop manages to catch two of them. The main downside to this loop is the start - going up a very steep (over 20% grade) fireroad for the first mile or so. But, once you get to the top, the views are great, the ride down Big Rock Trail is very fun, then another climb, then going in the fun direction on 680 Trail, and then some fun cruiser downhill fireroad to the car. So it's a good 15-mile loop with over 3,000 feet of climbing.
Features: -none-
Dogs: Off-leash

Need to Know

  • Navigating can be a bit tricky, especially near the starts. Pay attention to the directions and keep the MTB Project mobile app handy.
  • To lessen the difficulty of climbing on this loop, it's possible to ride it in reverse (riders can even start at the base of the Sunrise Fire Road). This does mean using the singletrack trails for climbing instead of descending, but it's a good option if you're looking to save some marks on the grunt scale.

Description

The parking spot is on the south side of Lucas Valley road, about 2 miles west of the 101.

The first part of the ride is on blacktop and gets you to the base of the very steep fire road. Here are the instructions:

1) Follow Lucas Valley Road west for a mile.
2) Take right onto Bridgegate Dr.
3) Take 2nd left onto Creekside.
4) About .4 miles take right up Luiz Fire Road.

Luiz Fire Road is, by far, the least fun and least pleasant part of this ride. It's only a mile, but a lot of the road is over 20% grade. But as you walk up (I'm not strong enough to ride this trail), enjoy the view as you slowly ascend. Once you get to the top, you are on Big Rock Ridge.

At the top, take the left onto Big Rock Ridge Fire Road and head west. This fire road has great views both north and south, as well as to the East, and has a lot of up and downs, but slowly ascends until you reach the cell phone towers that are at the top and at an elevation of 1,725 feet. This is a great spot to enjoy the view as you can nearly see 360 degrees. On a clear day, you can see San Francisco, Mt. Diablo, and the edge of Tomales Bay.

Now comes the best part of this ride - going down Big Rock Trail . Big Rock Trail is one of the few bike legal singletrack trails in Marin and is a very fun descent. Nice flow, nice views, and not too many people. There are a few blind turns, so watch the speed. One fun part of this ride is that you are looking down on Sky Ranch, where they made a few Star Wars movies.

Once at the bottom, cross the street and you now have a pretty mellow fire road ascent up Loma Alto Fire Road. Compared to Luiz Fire Road, this fire road is rather pleasant and if you like cows, you should enjoy this section. A little past halfway up is an alternative portion of Loma Alto Fire Road that follows the contours a bit better and doesn't reach the summit of Loma Alta hill ( 1592 feet). Given that it's only saving you a few hundred feet, and given that the view at the top is a nice 360-degree view, keep going straight and enjoy the view.

Once at the top, this is the time to take a break, enjoy the view and get ready for some fun. Go down and take the left on onto 680 Trail. This trail was built in 2012 and although it is a bike legal multi-use trail, the Marin mountain bike community wasn't particularly happy with it as the Marin Open Space Department smoothed it out to the point where it is more like a sidewalk than a mountain trail.

As a result, more experienced riders find it a bit boring, but it is fun and a great ride for beginner or intermediate mountain bikers. The beginning section traverses some open meadows and when the poppies are blooming in the spring, there is a section about a third of the way in that is amazing. There is a bit of fire road in the middle that has some big erosion control bumps that one could have some fun on. The trail then goes into some woods and winds through manzanita and California oaks. Personally, I like this section of the trail the best, but again, they smoothed it out a bit too much.

Once you get to the end of 680 Trail, you are back on fire roads and have a fun descent to the car, but be careful as it's easy to end up on the wrong side of this ridge. So take right on Luiz Ranch Fire Road for about a third of a mile and take the first left onto Terra Linda Ridge Fire Road. This left is easy to miss and going straight will put you on the wrong side of the ridge!

Stay left at next intersection and you'll be down at your car in a bit.

History & Background

680 Trail and Big Rock Trail are two of the 'newer' bike legal multi-use trails in Marin. This loop incorporates both and is a reminder that mountain bikers really want to see construction of more narrow multi-use trails.

Contacts

Local Club: Access4Bikes (A4B)

Land Manager: Marin County Parks

You & this Featured Ride


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Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Feb 5, 2018
David Reese
15.8mi
Feb 3, 2018
Chris Miksovsky
14mi
Dec 2, 2017
Yik Lim Kok
Oct 24, 2017
Dylan Witwicki
May 7, 2017
Anders Unruh
steep climb up Luiz FR but nice single trax down to Lucas ranch 14.7mi
Apr 26, 2017
Robson Grubba
Apr 2, 2017
Mickey Fimbres
That Luiz fire road is brutal. I had to walk most of it the first time. The trails are mostly dry now, but there are some deep ruts from the run off.
Nov 23, 2016
Hans Bogdanos
Brutal climbing in slightly soft wet conditions. Had to dismount 3 or 4 times. Even walked a pitch or 2. Incredible views !! Singletrack a treat . 11.4mi — 1h 45m

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Trail Ratings

  3.4 from 11 votes

#3

in Marin County

#2538

Overall
  3.4 from 11 votes
5 Star
18%
4 Star
18%
3 Star
55%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
9%
Rankings

#3

in Marin County

#311

in California

#2,538

Overall
325 Views Last Month
4,302 Since Sep 20, 2015
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Andrew W
Novato, CA
Andrew W   Novato, CA
Nice write up! Always be prepared for dogs off-leash but know they aren't supposed to be on the two singletracks described here. Luiz is a major PITA for sure which is why most who are familiar with these trails will start/end in the same place but opt for an out and back on dirt only. Big rock DH is one of the best in Marin if you like fast flowy trails, totally worth the climb - either way go. Oct 8, 2017
You've got lungs of steel if you can clean the Luiz Fire road - it just keeps going. Once you're up, there are pretty views. Not technical. If you want to burn ~1000 calories on fire roads and easy hiking trails with some nice bay views along the way, you'll like it. The 680 trail at the end was fine but I prefer more technical stuff. Still, this was fun for a change. Feb 5, 2018
The Luiz Fire Road is Hikabike most of the way. I probably won't do it again. To ride the Big Rock Trail, it is better done as an out and back. I thought the best part of the ride was the second loop on the south side of Lucas Valley Road with the 680 trail. . Feb 27, 2018

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