While tourists flock to Muir Woods, this ride on the opposite side of Mount Tamalpais will avoid the crowds while exploring a wooded landscape dotted with lakes. The climbs are gradual and mostly shaded and after a tour of the lakes you're rewarded with a fun descent to the trailhead.
This ride starts in the town of Ross near Ross Commons Park where parking is available on street and in a parking lot next to the Post Office. There is limited parking at Natalie Coffin Greene Park which may come in handy, as the trailhead fills quickly- especially on weekends.
It's about a mile up paved Lagunitas Road from Ross to reach the trailhead at Phoenix Lake which is the first of the three lakes in the tour. Keep right along the lake shore to the 4-way intersection and stay on the Shaver Grade
trail to the right. Shaver Grade
follows a shaded creek canyon and gradually climbs a ridge where you reach the Five Corners junction. A sharp left will keep you on Shaver Grade
, and is followed with a short climb to Sky Oaks Road
A right on Sky Oaks Road
and quick left will bring you to Bon Tempe Road: Sky Oaks Road - Bon Tempe Lake connector
and across Bon Tempe Lake dam with nice views of Mount Tam and if the water level is high enough, you may see the upper part of Alpine Lake below the dam.
Double back across the dam and turn left onto Bullfrog Road which loops around to the north and rejoins Sky Oaks Road
. Turn right on paved Sky Oaks Road
and follow it along the upper part of Bon Tempe Lake to the parking area near Lake Lagunitas. Continue up the access road to the dam then across to the Lake Lagunitas Loop Trail
. Follow the trail in a counter-clockwise direction along the shoreline.
At the upper end of the lake, turn right on the Lakeview Road
trail. For an easier ride option, loop around the lake back to Sky Oaks Road
and returning via Shaver Grade
. Lakeview Road
is a steady climb becoming steeper as it joins Eldridge Grade
. Eldridge Grade
is a downhill run, steep in places, all the way to the junction with Shaver Grade
where a right turn brings you back to Phoenix Lake and the trailhead.