3 Gaps Trail Initiative in Full Swing!

Early last year, MCBC identified the three biggest gaps in Marin County’s bicycle trail network. This began the MCBC 3 Gaps Trail Initiative: our vision of a single car-free route from the Golden Gate Bridge to Pt. Reyes.

Much of the effort goes on day to day, working with land managers to identify possible linking trails and then moving these through the various phases of planning and review.  MCBC members showing up at key meetings and spreading the word to other cyclists have kept everything on track through the process.

We are happy to report that one of the three proposals, Easy Grade Trail, just took one step nearer to closing a gap!  Following a public comment period, California State Parks reported some impressive news.

96% of comments favored the proposed change to allow bicycles on Easy Grade Trail citing, safety, avoidance of paved roads (Pan Toll), increased access for bicycles, reduced potential environmental impacts of a new trail to allow bikes, increased connectivity for bikes to other trails, safer for younger bicyclists, increased connectivity to Bay Area Ridge Trail, reduced potential danger of motorists with bicycles (the new route would allow bicyclists to stay off roads with motorists from Mt. Theatre to Pan Toll).

The report went on to say that the addition of bicycle use to Easy Grade Trail is approved and that staff expects to have a proposed modification plan completed in the first half of 2016. The trail will remain closed to bikes until the modifications are complete.

Thanks to all who wrote comment letters, it really does make a difference!


The Marin County Bicycle Coalition 3 Gaps Trail Initiative is focused on closing three of the biggest gaps in Marin’s trail network. To experience the full bounty of Marin’s parklands, bicyclists are currently forced to use narrow paved roads with no shoulders and fast moving vehicular traffic. The 3 Gap Initiative seeks to change that.

Many people choose off-road bicycling specifically to avoid motor vehicle traffic and the fear of being struck by a car. Consequently, most mountain bikers report a diminished experience when doing a ride of any real distance in Marin, due to the need to ride roads to connect trails. This is the reality for bicyclists that want to ride from GGNRA to Mt. Tamalpais State Park, and from Mt. Tamalpais State Park to the Marin Water District watershed.

Closing these three gaps would significantly enhance the outdoor experience for Marin’s bicyclists. The 3 Gaps Initiative would create a car-free bicycle trail route from the Golden Gate Bridge to Point Reyes.

All three projects are within the Tamalpais Lands Collaborative boundaries and provide much-needed connectivity for visitors on bikes, with minimal impacts to other users.

Benefits include:

  • Improving safety for bicyclists by getting them off narrow roadways
  • Reducing the number of bikes on narrow roadways, which can impede traffic
  • Enhancements which reduce environmental impacts on two of the trails
  • Spreads the work to expand opportunities for mountain biking fairly among Marin’s land managers
  • Reducing illegal trail riding by providing bike legal connectivity
  • Each proposal has multiple benefits including safety, connectivity and environmental enhancements

To move these projects forward, MCBC is prepared to work with stakeholders and other interest groups to build support for each proposal. MCBC will partner with land managers to find funding for these projects, will recruit volunteers from its 2,500 annual contributors to help build and maintain these facilities, and will provide educational outreach once they are complete.

MCBC 3 Gap Trail Initiative Details

Gap #1

Dias Ridge Phase II & III – GGNRA
Large user gap forcing bicyclists to use a 1.7 mile stretch of Highway 1, a narrow road between the Coast View Trail and Muir Beach.

Solution: Construct two new multi-use trails between the Golden Gate Dairy Stables and the Coast View Trail.


Benefits: Allows bicyclists an alternative to dangerous Highway 1, uses portion of existing ranch road, reduces the number of bikes traveling through the Muir Beach community and closes a multi-use gap in the Bay Area Ridge Trail.


Gap #2

Easy Grade Trail – Mt Tamalpais State Park
Large gap forcing bicyclists to use a 1.7 mile stretch of Pantoll Road, a narrow road between Pantoll Station and Rock Springs Fire Road.

Solution: Easy Grade Trail change-in-use to hiker/biker, providing connectivity between southern and northern sides of Mt. Tamalpais.


Benefits: Provides bicyclists an alternative to a narrow and curvy section of Pantoll Road, takes advantage of an existing redundant trail, avoids displacement (hikers and equestrians use Old Mine Trail and hikers use Bootjack trail), provides a road-free route to the Mountain Play, reducing vehicle trips, closes a bicycle user gap in the Bay Area Ridge Trail.


Gap #3

Azalea Hill – MMWD
Large gap forcing bicyclists to use a 1.3 mile stretch of Bolinas/Fairfax Road, a narrow road between Mt. Tamalpais and Pine Mountain.

Solution: a multi-use trail from Bull Frog Fire Road to Fairfax/Bolinas Road to create a car-free connection from Lagunitas and Bon Tempe Lakes to the Pine Mountain Fire Road.


Benefits: Allows bicyclists a car-free option to a narrow section of Bolinas/Fairfax Road, recycles an historic stage road for multi-use, allows for improvements to that old road, which is currently inaccessible, removes a spaghetti of social trails on a steep, high value habitat, provides fast emergency response from Sky oaks to Pine Mountain.



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