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Friday, August 15, 2014

The 5 Best Views of the Bay Area by Bike

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 1:49 PM

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Maybe it's because I'm from the flatlands of the flyover states, but I tend to gravitate toward the hills anytime I ride. So this week I decided to incorporate some breath-taking beauty into those hellish hills and pedal some of the toughest climbs in the Bay Area. 

It wasn't easy, given my time constraints (deadline) and tired legs, but it was satisfying nonetheless. 

So here it is, the five most scenic bike routes that embraces both brawn and beauty.

5. Hawk Hill
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While this is only called a hill, the climb is nothing to take lightly. If you’ve never really gotten out of the city on your bike, you’re missing out on a rewarding climb up to an impressive view of both San Francisco and the Bay. Hawk Hill is 923 feet high, just as high or higher than many of the other buena vistas. Don’t let the name fool you. It’ll get your pulse up. For better or for worse, the most dangerous part of this ride is the tourist-packed bridge. Hawk Hill is often stuck in the middle of the clouds — hence the fog laden portrait — otherwise, we might have ranked it higher. Go late in the day to maximize your chances of seeing the city, or early in the day to reduce the number of tourists you'll have to dodge.

4. Twin Peaks
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Twin Peaks offers a stunning view out over downtown San Francisco – or really, just about any part of the city. You might have get off your bike and clamber up to the top of the actual peaks for the best view, but the vista point isn’t half bad either. Mount Davidson is higher, but it’s both illegal and very difficult to bike up the rocky, steep, single-track trails. Twin Peaks also offers a better view of nearby Mount Sutro, as the latter is heavily wooded by invasive eucalyptus. If you’re going climb some hills, why stop at one — bike the twins.
3. Mount Diablo
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This might be a little far off the beaten path for some, but it’s really just a quick BART ride to Walnut Creek. That doesn’t make it an easier. The mountain is a lore more mountain than Twin Peaks or Mount Davidson. Standing at 3,864 feet, it’s a bit more than twice the height of both combined. From the top you get sweeping views of the Mount Diablo State Park, the Morgan Hill Open Space, the Shell Mound Open Space, Briones Regional Park — it's perfectly remote. On a clear day you can even see for many miles, all the way over the Berkeley Hills to San Francisco and the ocean. This is a hard, hot, long climb that takes several hours. So bring several bottles of water. 

2. San Bruno Mountain
click to enlarge WIKIMEDIA/SEROUJ
It is possible to get amazing views from the burbs. While not nearly as tall as Diablo (at 1,319 feet), but easily accessible from San Francisco without having to hop BART, San Bruno Mountain provides awesome sweeping views from a suburbanite's perspective. Located just south of the city, it’s technically the northernmost peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It's quiet and somewhat eerie at the top where you're surrounded by huge broadcasting towers. If you think San Francisco is windy and foggy, just wait until you bike down this mountain.  

1. Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Vollmer Peak
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Vollmer Peak is 1,905 feet, and Grizzly Peak is 1,754. Ride up Grizzly Peak in the Berkeley Hills and you arguably get one of the most diverse views of the region: you can see the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Tamalpais, Mount Diablo, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and just about every other city you'd like to see. Have a nice chuckle as you watch the fog blanket San Francisco, while the peak you're standing on baths you with warm sun. In the Bay Area, nothing wins more than the warm sun.

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About The Author

Leif Haven

Leif Haven

Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill — literally and metaphorically.

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