Bike Ride from Sausalito to San Francisco
Although most people start in San Francisco, bike across the Golden Gate Bridge and then take the ferry back to San Francisco, you can also ride your bike from Sausalito to San Francisco. You can do the trip in the opposite direction, bringing your bike back to Marin on the northbound ferry. The key thing to remember is that the southbound route is more difficult than coming northbound.
When there are delays on summer afternoons in bikes boarding ferries due to high volume more people consider this option. This return trip has several features that raise problems for all but expert cyclists, especially for families riding with kids:
1. The hill leading from Sausalito to San Francisco is steep, and unlike the San Francisco approach the shoulder is narrow with speeding cars zooming by, and rental bikes are not geared for climbing. If you’re not an avid cyclist the climb may not be fun. If you do go back this way we recommend the Conzelman Road route detailed on our Bike the Bridge page.
2. The sidewalk of the Bridge that is open to cyclists (East or West) may have changed between the time you come to Sausalito and the time whren you want to go back, since it varies by time of day and because of construction. Stairs and a passageway connect the two parking lots on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge (the eastern one is called “Vista Point”), but bikes need to be carried and the stairs are steep.
Our page on Parking at the Bridge has precise photos and information on the area around these parking lots.
3. There are no signs at the top of the hill for how to get back across the Golden Gate Bridge on your bike. When you crest the hill and see the Bridge on your left you can reverse the route you took as you came across the Bridge, but if that sidewalk is closed you’ll need to cross below the Bridge to the other side as noted above. On the San Francisco side the passageway is wide (and is shown in the photo above) but on the Sausalito side it’s a narrow walkway.
4. Getting to the West sidewalk (if it’s open) from Sausalito requires going through a very narrow 2-way 101 freeway underpass tunnel that doesn’t really have room for both bikes and cars (let alone all the buses) — be patient and wait for a gap in the traffic to enter on your bike. Do not confuse this with the 1-way tunnel with the stoplight on Bunker Road, which you do not want to enter in any case since it leads away from both Sausalito and San Francisco into the Marin Headlands and the GGNRA.