Our first Mountain Bike ride...Arastradero Preserve in the Palo Alto foothills.  This park is suitable for riders of nearly all abilities, although it's not flat, so it may be mildly challenging to some.  However, it's easy to avoid the steepest and most-technical parts if you wish, and the main service road (Corte Madera Trail) is well suited to families.

There are no places to get water in the park, so please make sure you've got full water bottles before starting!

To get there, take 280 to the Page Mill exit, head west on Page Mill and turn right on Arastradero.  The parking lot will be about 1/2 mile up the road, on the right-hand side.  Please note the parking lot doesn't open until 8am, and there are no other convenient places to park nearby. Click here for the official pdf map of Arastradero Preserve.

For more info on local mountain biking, check out the ROMP (Responsible Off-road Mountain Pedalers) website at  This is a wonderful group that has done a great job of maintaining, and even increasing, trail access on the Peninsula.  Their volunteer work is legendary and they preach (and practice) peaceful coexistence.  We highly recommend you consider joining!

If you're in the east bay, the East Bay Regional Parks district has a site of their own, complete with maps.  --Mike--

The entrance to the park, down Corte Madera Trail.  For families with young children, this is an ideal trail that's over a mile long. It doesn't take long to "get away from it all" and forget that you're just minutes away from the urban craziness of the bay area! 
Spectacular views of the Peninsula make even the relatively tree-less surrounding quite pretty.  Bruno Colchen, our Redwood City service manager, showing off just a litte bit.
The Punch Bowl!  Quite a surprise for me; I had no idea it was up there.  BMXers, eat your heart out! The idea is to head full-speed down to the bottom and then try to make it up the other side before you run out of gas.
Meanwhile, back down on the "flats" along Corte Madera Trail, you'll find Arastradero Lake.  A great place to feed the mosquitoes. This is a great place to ride in the mornings, before it starts getting too warm.  Not a lot of tree cover to keep you cool!
And as you can see, the park has everything from gravel roads... pure singletrack!  
Entry from my almost-daily diary regarding a rattlesnake at Arastradero!

The question comes up quite often; seems like all I ever do is road biking.  Well, a couple of reasons for that-
  • I've got very little time to ride, often just two days/week, in the mornings before work.  With a road bike, you just ride away from your house, while for mountain biking, you're going to lose a bunch of quality time on the bike while driving to wherever you're going to ride (between 15-30 minutes each way).
  • I almost never crash or otherwise injure myself on a road bike (at least not for quite a few years); the same cannot be said for my off-road endeavors!
  • I can spend 8 hours comfortably on a road bike, but on a mountain bike, even with all the resources I have at my disposal (product & fit expertise), I can't ride more than half an hour before my hands hurt.

Having said all that, I should confess that I went out on not just a mountain bike ride today, but two of them... the first one at Skegg's/El Corte Madera with a bunch of guys from the shop (Todd, Jason, Jarvis, Brian, Scott, Michael & Bruno.. did I leave anybody out?), and then after I got back home went out again with the wife & kids to Arastradero.

The high-point of the two rides?  That's easy... the rattlesnake that lay clear across the train on the afternoon run at Arastradero.  I believe it was on the section of Meadowlark between Ohlone and Acorn trails; I was just riding along, at the front of the group, and came to a very rapid stop because there was a very fat snake sprawled all the way across the trail.  It was only after stopping, maybe four feet ahead of it, that I noticed this guy had a very interesting-looking tail and yes, as it slithered into the bushes, there was a faint (barely discernible) rattling noise.  This was the real thing, first time I'd seen one outside of a zoo.  Unfortunately, it was gone too quickly for a photo.  Dang!

Strange as it may seem, that encounter probably inspired me to want to ride off-road more often.  Go figure.

Last updated 12/03/07 Hit Counter since 04/13/03


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