On the Road to Paradise Beach Park

I’ve bicycled on Paradise Drive, the long and winding stretch that runs along the water in Marin County’s Belvedere and Tiburon, a few times over the years. I’ve passed the entrance to Paradise Beach Park on those rides, but never gone into the beachside park until yesterday. A time comes for everything if you bicycle the San Francisco Bay Area enough, and with the weather unseasonably warm, I made the 20-mile trek from San Francisco in the morning.

The pier in Paradise Beach Park, near the San Pablo Bay.

The pier in Paradise Beach Park, near the San Pablo Bay. Way in the background is the San Rafael-Richmond Bridge.

Is it a “destination” park? Not really, unless you live nearby or might want a place to rest and lunch while you’re on a long ride. It’s quite small, and unless you’re making a semi-day of it with a picnic, takes just a few minutes to walk through. Which, incidentally, will cost a $2 entrance fee if you bike in or even walk in (though I can’t imagine too many people enter on foot, unless they live very close by). It’s $10 per vehicle if you drive.

The entrance to Paradise Beach Park.

The entrance to Paradise Beach Park.

What Paradise Beach Park does have going for it is the quiet. Even up in this affluent enclave — you wouldn’t take Paradise Drive to get anywhere by car, unless you live there or indulge in a pleasure drive — it’s hard to escape at least some of the noise that’s part of the price of living in a big metropolitan area. Go down the road from the drive to the beach, though, and it’s almost as silent as anywhere I’ve been in the San Francisco vicinity. And while the views in the park aren’t plentiful, they’re pretty.

Looking toward the park from the pier.

Looking toward the park from the pier.

Stairs in the park, near the picnic area.

Stairs in the park, near the picnic area.

This open grassy part of the park actually comprises a good percentage of its acreage.

This open grassy part of the park actually comprises a good percentage of its acreage.

From the pier, you can see some beachside homes that give you a glimpse of how the other half, or perhaps of how the 1%, live:

Park visitor perched on the pier, with beachside home in the background.

Park visitor perched on the pier, with beachside home in the background.

Half the fun is getting there, of course, though you’ll need to be in reasonable shape if you’re coming all the way from San Francisco (taking the nearby Angel Island Ferry back is an option if you’re not up for the steep climb from Sausalito to the Golden Gate Bridge on the return journey). And Paradise Drive really is a long and winding road, no matter how long of a stretch you ride, a bonus being the near-absence of cars, especially early in the morning. Bicyclists outnumber cars by a wide margin, especially on the weekends.

The long and winding road that's Paradise Drive.

The long and winding road that’s Paradise Drive.

On your way back to Tiburon’s small downtown, check out this enigmatic tower just north of the ferry, and take in a distant Golden Gate Bridge view:

Lyford's Stone Tower, built in 1889, on Paradise Drive just a few hundred yards or so past downtown Tiburon.

Lyford’s Stone Tower, built in 1889, on Paradise Drive just a few hundred yards or so past downtown Tiburon.

The Golden Gate Bridge can be seen as you leave Paradise Drive to enter downtown Tiburon, though it's sometimes shrouded by clouds.

The Golden Gate Bridge can be seen as you leave Paradise Drive to enter downtown Tiburon, though it’s sometimes shrouded by clouds.

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