Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge: A San Francisco bike the bridge photo guide

by Nov 27, 2021California

Bike The Golden Gate Bridge Michael

Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge is a thrill any traveler to the California city by the bay can enjoy. Our bike the bridge photo guide will show you how to enjoy a mostly flat bike ride along the San Francisco waterfront, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and into Sausalito. 

There you are some 220 feet above the choppy waters of the San Francisco Bay, biking the Golden Gate Bridge. The wind ruffles your hair, fingers of fog perhaps tickle your cheeks or, if you are lucky, a little sun illuminates the bright red suspension bridge that has been called an architectural genius.

Toss a glance over your right shoulder as you bike toward Sausalito and all of San Francisco’s iconic landmarks are marching across the skyline. Look in front of you and the 85-year-old Art Deco suspension bridge’s lines swoop gracefully ahead. Over your left shoulder, the Pacific Ocean stretches for miles.

Bike The Golden Gate Bridge

Biking across the bridge is nothing short of a thrill. The chance to pedal across what was named an engineering “Wonder of the World” is a tour that travelers to California should add to their list of things to do in San Francisco. The bridge was the longest suspension bridge from the time it opened in 1937 until 1964 when a bridge in Japan took over that honor. The Golden Gate Bridge is 1.7 miles from abutment to abutment and remains one of the most romantic and photographed bridges in the world.

Bike the bridge with Blazing Saddles

We biked the bridge with Blazing Saddles Bike Rental and Tours (choose from regular or eBikes) on a gorgeous fall day in San Francisco. We were told the trip of about eight miles normally takes about four hours or so with dawdle time, then taking the Blue & Gold ferry back into San Francisco. We lengthened it to a full day with plenty of detours as well as head-swiveling stops for photos. Think Alcatraz seemingly floating on the waters of the bay, kites sailing over the Marina, historic Fort Point nestling under the bridge, the Presidio of San Francisco park to explore, or cycling down to Cavallo Point near Sausalito for even more bay and city views.

HITT Tip: Summer may be the prime time for holidays and vacations but remember that San Francisco’s summer is usually colder and foggier than fall or even early winter. If you have a choice, pick September or October for your road trip or holiday in San Francisco. Even late August and sometimes in November can offer those sun-kissed postcard views that will make family and friends (and Instagram followers) oooo and aaaaah.

Marin View Golden Gate Bridge

A bike tour across the Golden Gate Bridges itself is not difficult, primarily threading you along the flat shoreline on (mostly) pedestrian-only trails and paths. There are a couple of short hills, and the first half of the bridge is a slight upward slope. Of course, that means the second half is a slight down. Not to forget is the big downhill into Sausalito, a picture-perfect Marin County town with restaurants, cafes and boutiques hugging the coastline.

If you are considering a stop in San Francisco any time of year, then consider biking the Golden Gate Bridge. Get inspired for your bike tour with these photos showing how the day unfolds:

Cycling across the Golden Gate in photos

First stop, your bike rental shop, in our case, Blazing Saddles on Hyde Street on the cable car tracks and near Fisherman’s Wharf. Pick up either a regular bike or an eBike for a little assist on the hills.

Bike The Bridge Blazing Saddles Bike Shop

Off you go, walking down the short steep section of Hyde till you cross the cable car tracks and saddle up in the Maritime Green park, below, where you find the cable car turn-around end station. Get sucked in by your first sweeping view of the bay, below. Yup, there’s Alcatraz looking close enough to touch. But that visit is for another day.

Toodle along the Maritime National Historic Park waterfront across Aquatic Park. You will likely spy some cold-water ocean swimmers churning up the cove or a few hanging out on the bleachers on your left toweling off. The beach is a popular place for families to hang out.

San Francisco Hyde Street Park

Not even another half-mile down on your biking tour is the Aquatic Park Municipal Pier, an historic narrow comma-shaped pier that allows you to get out farther into the bay. Take this short detour to win nice views back toward San Francisco, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, historic shops, and the skyline. You can also see more of your route – and the Golden Gate Bridge – to your left on your way out. The pier was built in 1929 and is a threatened landmark in need of repairs.

Bike The Bridge Municipal Pier

Exiting the pier, on your right is your first hill heading up Black Point Battery, below, with a view from the top over Fort Mason, which served as an army post for more than 100 years. Today, it is the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture and houses restaurants, galleries, and non-profits and plays host to occasional festivals. (This hill is only about 400 feet so don’t worry, and walk if you want to … plenty of other cyclists walk, too!)

HITT Tip: There is usually a coffee truck parked near the Fort Mason entrance if you need a little java jolt or you can wait for another a little farther down along the Marina.

Fort Mason First Hill San Francisco

Wandering along the water’s edge of the Presidio, another former army facility and now part of the San Francisco National Park at Golden Gate, you enter the Marina district, cycle along a park popular with runners and fitness enthusiasts, and past the yacht harbor. You now pop onto dirt paths that will give some pretty great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and your goal on the other side of Sausalito.

HITT Tip: If it’s a higher tide, I recommend you cycle past the yacht club and out to the quirky Wave Organ, an acoustic cement structure that is turns water into music when the waves hit right. It was built in 1986 by an artist-in-residence at the Exploratorium.

Presido To Golden Gate Bridge

Enjoy the natural marshes and recovered wetlands of the Presidio. If you need a stop, the beloved Warming Hut is a place to find beverages, small snacks, and a bathroom. You are now about 3.5 miles into your ride and are about to make a few turns to head up to the entrance to the path that you will bike across the bridge to Sausalito. Just follow the signs like those below to the Golden Gate Bridge to continue your bike tour.

HITT Tip: If you want a take in more history, keep going along the water toward historic Fort Point, nestled under the south abutment of the Golden Gate Bridge. This Civil War fortress built in 1861 is normally only open weekends. Lock up your bike outside and climb up into the fort to the top open-air floor. From there, the majesty of this giant bridge and the constant stream of traffic is truly striking with the constant thump-thump-thump as vehicles enter the bridge over your head. Get a look at the decommissioned Fort Point Light – this version built in 1864 — now looking so tiny under the massive bridge. This will add less than a mile roundtrip on totally flat roads.

Bike Golden Gate Bridge Views

Once you’ve made the turn onto Long Avenue behind the Warming Hut for your second short hill, you are now edging closer to the highlight of your bike tour – entering the bridge walkway to begin biking across the Golden Gate Bridge. You are now higher so plan to stop a lot to enjoy all the angles of this classic suspension bridge. From above, you can also see across the opening of the bay to the left.

Golden Gate Bridge To Sausalito

Although your goal may be to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, don’t forget to stop and enjoy a little, including photos of yourself and friends. There are plenty of plazas and viewpoints with those postcard selfies to send to friends back home to make them entirely jealous of your bike tour in San Francisco. From the south vista point to the north vista point is not quite two miles.

Selfies Golden Gate Bridge Biking

Normally, the path on the outer or west side of the Golden Gate Bridge is reserved for cyclists with pedestrians on the city side. When we biked the bridge in October 2021 there was a lot of renovation and construction so we had two-way traffic on the east side, which can be a bit tricky. Heed the warnings, ride carefully and have consideration of others.

Cycling Golden Gate Bridge

With cars whizzing past, you won’t do a lot of talking. Although safely separated from the traffic, it felt odd indeed to have fast cars and trucks roaring past so close.

San Francisco Bike The Bridge

Now that you are finally biking across the bridge between San Francisco to Sausalito, don’t forget to stop and enjoy the grand views!!!

HITT Tip: Plan stops safely by pulling over in front of supports so you do not block traffic. There are also areas at both towers where the path takes a sharp right then curves back around sharply to the left onto the walkway. These are good places to stop at the rail but keep a sharp eye out since sight lines are limited.

Enjoy The View Golden Gate Bridge

Next thing you know, your bike adventure crossing the bridge is over! How can that be?!? Once you see the sign for the Vista Point, that’s it, folks. But wait, there is more to come once across the bridge: Don’t be so eager to get to Sausalito that you miss (one of) the grand finales of biking the bridge. A stop at the Vista Point is mandatory, offering sweeping views of the bridge, the bay, and the city.

San Francisco Bridge Vista Point

Don’t believe me? This photo below is the view from the vista point. They don’t call it a VISTA point for nothing.

Vista Point Bike The Bridge

Another detour you will love on your way into Sausalito is out to Cavallo Point and Fort Baker on the north side of the bridge. The photo below shows your hairpin turn to the right so slow down. It will be about a half-mile after leaving the Vista Point.

HITT Tip: Sure, it adds another downhill of about three-quarters of a mile to the waterfront (which of course means another uphill back to the road down to Sausalito, but the views and history are unbeatable! Head out to Moore Pier, then along Horseshoe Bay to Point Cavallo. There, you can park your bikes and hike up to get a look at the former wartime batteries. If you have time, you could head into the Bay Area Discovery Museum there. The old fort has been transformed into the luxury Point Cavallo Lodge there.

Turn To Cavallo Point Fort Baker

Down at Cavallo Point, Moore Pier will attract any photographer! Michael and I spent a lot of time here snapping photos of the bridge, boats, water, and the San Francisco skyline.

Bike The Bridge Photographs San Francisco

From the pier you are close to the Golden Gate Bridge north abutment. Assuming you started your adventure in the morning or even mid-day, the sun will be lower in the sky on the other side of the bridge from you.

Cavallo Point Golden Gate Bridge

Back up on Alexander Avenue, you continue to the official route of biking the bridge into Sausalito. You have about two miles to where you will park your bike in town.

Bike The Bridge To Sausalito

Just follow the signs and in minutes you’ll be along the water again on Bridgeway Avenue. The San Francisco Bay waters nearly lap up to the road at this park area. Stop and enjoy the views to San Francisco!

Sausalito Streets

Since biking into and around Sausalito is so popular for tourists and locals alike, you will pay for parking in most places — including parking your bike. However, if you rent bikes from Blazing Saddles, you get free bike parking at the Joinery restaurant at Turney Street, just past the main part of town and the yacht harbor.

Blazing Saddles Joinery Bike Parking

Once you lock up your metal steed, stretch your legs with a walk around town to shop, get a snack or beverage, or watch other cyclists along the road. There are a lot of serious cyclists in this area, too. Just remember it’s about a half-mile back to the ferry landing from your parking spot.

HITT Tip: The price of the ferry back from Sausalito is not included in the bike rental. Be sure to get your ticket before boarding and preferably before leaving San Francisco.

Bike Into Sausalito Blazing Saddles Bike The Bridge

Load ‘em up! Do not worry, the ferry will not be hard to find and there will likely be a lot of cyclists lined up. Do not be late to the Blue & Gold Ferry, either. It does not wait for anyone! And double-check the ferry times so you do not miss the last ferry back to San Francisco (earlier in the fall or winter). A taxi or special bus pickup won’t be inexpensive.

HITT Tip: Parking your bike on the ferry lower deck means just stacking them up next to each other. If you want to get off earlier, then wait til the end of the line to park your bike – last on, first off, right? And be sure to note the number on your bike or some other marking since otherwise you and a dozen or more of your newfound friends will all be looking at each other asking, is this my bike?… Is that my bike?…

Blue And Gold Ferry To San Francisco

Your adventure biking across the bridge with more views that anybody could ask for is not over yet. The Blue & Gold Ferry across the bay is a tour all itself, taking in views of the Golden Gate Bridge to your right, Alcatraz to the left, and the San Francisco skyline ahead. The fog had started to roll in in pure San Francisco-style, draping itself over Alcatraz and wrapping itself around the bridge.

Alcatraz Fog From Blue And Gold Ferry

Since you have likely rented the bike all day, take advantage of the time to explore a little more of the waterfront after you land back in San Francisco at Pier 41 (adjacent to Pier 39) and before you head back to your hotel. Either head into Pier 39 for a beverage at one of several family-run Pier 39 restaurants, or cycle back along the waterfront for more views with golden light at the end of the day – heading back to the Municipal Pier is a great spot for end-of-day views and photos.

Golden Gate Bridge Paddleboarder Sunset

HITT Tip: Check on what time Blazing Saddles closes to be sure to get your bike back in time. They always keep the shop open a bit after the last ferry from Sausalito.

Blazing Saddles Finish Line

You did it! You biked the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco to Sausalito. Traversing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge on a bike is a special way to see the bridge as well as San Francisco and Sausalito. Cross the Blazing Saddles finish line – and be sure to have staff snap a photo of you with that big silly grin on your face.

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Don't Let The Sun Set On You!

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