West Marin has all the right stuff for an afternoon getaway: bicycle paths, babbling brooks, canopy forests, private picnic spots, seclusion, and plentiful pastureland. For a good time, pedal the Cross Marin Trail, once a railroad used by the Northwestern Pacific (1875–1935). Today this converted path parallels free-flowing Lagunitas Creek for 4.5 miles (one way). There are bridges to cross, giant redwood trees to admire, and streamside spots to enjoy some nooner treats. (The path crosses through Samuel P. Taylor Park, so groups large and small can host barbecue feasts at the picnic grounds.) The drive from San Francisco is short and sweet, with fall colors peaking and splashes of yellow and orange scattered among the redwoods. So find your bicycle and hold it tight, then grab yourself some afternoon delight.
From Hwy 101 in Marin, exit Sir Francis Drake Blvd. and travel twenty miles west towards Point Reyes. Continue a couple of miles past Samuel P. Taylor State Park entrance; turn right at Platform Bridge Rd. and park in the pullout on the west side of the road. Look for the paved path leading from the pullout. The entire path is 4.5 miles one way—asphalt for three miles and dirt and ballast for the last 1.5 miles—from Platform Bridge Rd. to the turnaround at Shafter’s Bridge.