Three Peaks, One Day, No Car

June 13, 2011

This coming weekend, you could count yourself among an elite few folks who use only bicycles and mass transit to summit the Bay Area’s three major peaks in one day.

The second-annual Triple Threat, sponsored by and REI, is a 128-mile trek to the tops of Mounts Hamilton, Diablo, and Tamalpais. And if you’re not up to gaining 10,700 feet in one day, you can also join just part of the trip.

And it’s all about more than just bragging rights (though there will be plenty of those): “We’re trying to help give people tools to use public transportation to use the parks in a way that’s more environmentally friendly,” says Ryan Branciforte, co-creator of Transit and Trails and director of conservation planning at the Bay Area Open Space Council. Branciforte was also part of the team that created Bay Nature’s Transit to Trails printed map, most recently updated in 2009. 

“A lot of people can’t afford to own a car and the cost of maintaining it,” says Branciforte, “so we want people who don’t have access to cars to still get outside and enjoy the parks.”

Here’s what the Triple Threat will look like:

The riders meet the night of June 17 and ride to a campground in San Jose where they spend the night, for an early 4:30 am start the next morning, gaining 2,500 feet to the top of Mount Hamilton before 6:30 am.

After the decent, it’s on to Caltrain to the REI store in San Francisco where they drop off gear and meet with the Double Dip and Single Summit riders, those who opted out of doing all three peaks. The riders then make their way across the city to the Golden Gate Bridge to reach their next feat, Mount Tam in Marin. They hope to finish this 27 mile ride and reach the top of the 2,600 high peak by 2 pm.

From there they descend to Sausalito and take the Ferry back to San Francisco and catch BART to Pleasant Hill. The final leg of their journey is Mount Diablo, only 16.5 miles but a steep 3,800 feet in elevation gain. They plan to summit by 8 pm, followed by a ride back down to BART where they celebrate their accomplishments and head home for a much needed night’s rest.

bike on diablo
Photo by Lech Naumovich.

But you don’t have to be a fitness freak to take advantage of the extensive public transportation or the parks and open spaces in the Bay Area that cover over a million acres.

Branciforte says the Triple Threat started last year as a group of friends just wanting to see if they could do it, but it turned into a way of showing people what’s possible with public transportation.

“If ten bikers can get east of Berkeley, north Mill Valley, and south of San Jose plus go for a long bike ride,” asks Branciforte, “then why can’t people walk out their doors and take the bus?”

Plan your own outdoor adventure using

Learn more about the ride, or follow along with the riders with live Facebook and Twitter updates with locations and photographs.

For more information or to sign up for the Triple Threat, contact Annie Burke at

About the Author

San Francisco native Carly Peltier interned at Bay Nature in 2011 before heading to South America.

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