West Marin has all the right stuff for an autumn afternoon getaway: bike paths, babbling brooks, canopy forests, and secluded picnic spots. Combine a picnic and a pedal at Samuel P. Taylor State Park, where the leaves are churning out signature fall colors—and you get to see it by biking the easygoing Cross Marin Trail.
Once a railroad used by the Northwestern Pacific, this converted path parallels free-flowing Lagunitas Creek, with redwood trees to admire and several streamside trails worth hopping off your bike to explore. Make your starting point Samuel P. Taylor State Park picnic area, and bring a lunch. The grounds here are under the redwoods and by the creek.
When it’s time to ride, find the paved path just south of Lagunitas Creek and pedal for 3 miles west (one-way; see note in italics). Splashes of yellow, orange, and red are scattered among the redwoods. A lucky few might even spy salmon swimming upstream to spawn; keep an eye out for the “red salmon” crossing signs. If you’re ready to ease into fall, this mellow bike ride is just the place to start.
Here’s a map to Samuel P. Taylor State Park. The picnic area is just inside the entrance. The paved path is 3 miles (one-way) heading west to Platform Bridge Rd. (NOTE: The last 1.5 miles have been closed for maintenance repairs; this stretch is scheduled to re-open on November 1, 2016. The closure begins at the swimming hole bridge near the west boundary of Samuel P. Taylor State Park and continues to the end of the Cross Marin Trail at Sir Francis Drake Blvd. and Platform Bridge Rd.). The Cross Marin Trail is dog-friendly!