This ride along Skyline Boulevard has a jekyll and hyde personality. The first half is great, the second half sucks, for the most part. Still, it’s the best way to get to San Francisco by bike, short of taking the train.
I rode in early May when the weather was mild and clear. Be forewarned: Do not do this ride in the fog. Skyline Boulevard traffic moves at 50-60 mph. You have to cross two long Highway 1 ramps with merging traffic. There is an alternate route that avoids this intersection, which you can find by doing a search.
I have mapped the route starting in Woodside. Take Cañada Road north and work your way to Skyline Boulevard via 92. The route goes up and down but the altitude never goes much above 700 feet.
After crossing the impressive Crystal Springs dam enter the Sawyer Camp Trail (San Antonio Road) path. It winds along the shore of Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir. Foot traffic is heavy for the first mile and then thins out. Here’s one place where you should keep to the 15 mph speed limit. It’s a pleasant ride, but the winding trail gets on your nerves after a while.
The last stretch climbs to San Andreas Reservoir and brings you back to Skyline after crossing under interstate 280. Continue north a short distance to the next underpass and go left. You can pick up the next path here. This one is straight. It has a fair amount of foot and bike traffic, but it’s not bad in the morning.
The path ends at San Bruno Avenue, where you enter Skyline Boulevard. As you can imagine, this stretch isn’t so great. Traffic is moderate to heavy at times. There is a good shoulder though. The ride rolls up and down before finally peaking and leveling off.
The Highway 1 ramps have long merge lanes. They’re not bad on a weekend morning. Just be sure to signal your intentions.
Once past this part, it’s all downhill, fast. Sections are 8 percent. You can get up a lot of speed, but use caution as there are stoplights on the way down, and exits.
Turn left at the bottom onto the Great Highway. The road often has drifting sand, which is one reason you might want to use the path. However, the path has a LOT of foot traffic. My ride ends at Ocean Beach.
On the return, retrace your steps, but you have options. The thought of taking the Sawyer Camp Trail path back turns me off, so I take the 280 ramp at Hillcrest to Trousdale and then take Skyline Boulevard on the east side of 280 all the way to the Crystal Springs Golf Course, Golf Course Drive. When on 280 for about a half-mile keep to the far right. There’s even a “sidewalk” you can take most of the way. It’s legal. You can also take Skyline Boulevard all the way on the return, pick up the on-ramp, and avoid the bike path.