BTIHKEE BEACH Gray Whale Cove
If you prefer to stay dry and commune with
marine life, don a helmet, pack up that
picnic and pedal on over to a beachy Bay
Area bike trail. We recommend Tennessee
Valley in Marin Headlands. The 8.5-mile
round trail is great for a full day trip. Cruise your way through the
valley from Highway 101 and then travel on foot to pretty, secluded
Tennessee Cove for a picnic on the beach. Bring windbreakers.
Cyclists who tackle the trail from Pacifica up Montara Mountain
have a decision to make. At the fork about halfway in, you can opt for
the easy route by taking the turn at Gray Whale Cove Trail to enjoy the
68 South Bay Accent
scenery. If you want to tackle a more vertical course, then head uphill
on North Peak Access Road and ride the go-for-the-gusto access route.
There’s an even grittier choice: To really test your mettle, you can loop
around and create a 17-mile ride for yourself that offers the best of
both—gorgeous coastal views, as well as stretches where the grade
reaches around 30 percent, a steep ascent by any measure.
Contemplating the universe is best done with the roar
of the waves as a soundtrack. While there’s no place to
completely hide from light pollution, there are quite a
few spots that offer darker skies. In the light-saturated
Bay Area, there’s a bit of refuge from city lights—according
to Dark Sky Finder—by Pacifica State Beach.
Local amateur astronomers’ clubs also recommend
finding a nighttime perch in Pescadero. Book a room
at Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel for amazing
views of the lighthouse and the dark skies around all
China Camp State Park in San Rafael is another
night-sky haven away from the lights of San Francisco.
Located along San Pablo Bay, it offers numerous hiking
and single trail mountain biking opportunities as
well. Campground reservations are available on the
Friends of China Camp site (friendsofchinacamp.org).