Sandwiched between wave-ravaged bluffs, the beach at Tennessee Cove has long been a favored quick escape in the Marin Headlands. But its popularity shouldn’t stop casual bikers from heading there for a good morning roll. Go early or late to avoid the noon-time crowds at the pocket beach. The mostly level 1.8 mile (one-way) Tennessee Valley Trail curves around lush green hills speckled in wildflowers; thanks to recent rains, the colors pack an extra punch. Near trail’s end, purple bush lupine carpet the bluffs. Bring a snack and a book and kick back to watch the churning tides. Or park your bike and hike to higher ground by following the informal trails up the north bluff, where you’ll get a nice vantage of the really high, and mighty, sea cliffs. Way to cove!
TIP: For a longer ride (approximately 10-12 miles one-way) that doesn’t require a car, pedal from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito and along the Bay Trail to Tennessee Valley Road, then on to the cove. (On the multi-use Bay Trail in Mill Valley, look for the paved trail going left toward Tennessee Valley Road. It’s 500 feet after going under Highway 101 and just before the small wooden bridge.)
Direction to Tennessee Valley and Cove: From San Francisco, go north on Hwy. 101 and take the Mill Valley/Stinson Beach exit. Follow Shoreline Hwy. until Tennessee Valley Rd.; make a left, and go 1.5 miles to the parking lot. No dogs.