Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pantoll to Stinson Beach Loop Via Matt Davis, Dipsea, and Steep Ravine Trails - Mount Tamalpais State Park, California

We recently did the popular Matt Davis, Steep Ravine loop connecting Pantoll Campground to Stinson Beach. We chose to start at Pantoll and take a food break at Stinson Beach, but it also makes sense to start at Stinson if you want to get the hard part out of the way first (and claim a coveted parking spot at the beach which become scarce after 11 most weekends).

The parking lot at Pantoll is located off of Panoramic Highway at Pantoll Rd. about 4.5 miles west of Mill Valley and 4 miles east of Stinson Beach. It costs $8 to park there, but there are other parking options nearby (if you dislike the idea of supporting the conservation of incredible natural resources for future generations).

Named after a man who helped build many of the trails in the area back in the 1910's & 1920's, the Matt Davis Trail is about 4.2 miles long and starts across the road from the Pantoll parking lot and kiosk. This route is longer than the way back but has a nicer grade for trail running. It starts out somewhat level for the first mile or two before heading downhill via numerous switchbacks into Stinson Beach. The views along the way are stunning as the hillside alternates between being grassy and wooded with the ocean in the background.

At Stinson Beach we hit the famous Siren Canteen on the beach for some great food (nachos) and drinks (options include a variety of shakes, mimosas, kombucha, beer, wine, etc).
After that we relaxed on the beach for a bit before starting back up the hill. Going back we took the Dipsea and Steep Ravine route which was shorter at about 3 miles, but steeper (including lots of steps and a 10' wooden ladder). The redwoods and low branching oaks along the later part of this trail give the area a magical feel.

For info on more hikes in the area, explore the labels on the left or click some of the links below:
North Bay Trails
California Trails 

Matt Davis Trail Heading Towards Stinson Beach

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Things to Do This Summer When Biking, Walking, or Hiking Around Sausalito, Tiburon, & Mill Valley

Every summer, as soon as the rain stops, tons of people make their way to Sausalito and Tiburon usually through some combination of biking and ferry riding. Here are some ideas for things to checkout while you are in the area!

Marin Headlands, Rodeo Beach Area: After biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, instead of cruising down the hill into Sausalito, you can turn left and go through a tunnel into the Marin Headlands. Bicyclists love biking on the roads and trails in this incredibly scenic area.

Stairs of Belvedere

Belvedere (once an island) is a beautiful town (more like a nice neighborhood) next to downtown Tiburon. Its small winding streets offer spectacular views of Tiburon, Sausalito, Angel Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, and incredible homes. On a recent stroll, we discovered that the island also has lots of steep pedestrian pathways, each with its own painted sign! If you are looking for something a bit different to do in the area, see how many of these you can do before your legs or lungs give out!

I've provided step counts, but keep in mind that not all steps are created equal. Some are steep and others are less so. Some paths had sloped sections with no steps. Also, I was walking Buddy, taking photos, and checking two mapping apps so some counts could be off by 10-20 or so. Let me know if you count a different number and I'll post averages!

The main thing to focus on here is that each route had beautiful hand-painted signs at each end. The map below shows a 2.25 mile, 1,600+ step route that takes you to most of the pedestrian paths on the island (you can zoom in or open as a larger map to get a better idea of the route). Clicking any of the photos below should open larger versions in a slideshow format.

Woodwardia - Lower 61 Steps, Upper 131 Steps

Rodeo Beach to Muir Beach, Marin Headlands

JC & JK3 recently got together in California and hiked from Rodeo Beach to Muir Beach, ate brunch at the Pelican Inn, and then hiked back.

This incredibly scenic hike in the Marin Headlands has two big ups and downs with 600-800 feet of elevation change. You can eliminate the biggest one by starting at the Tennessee Valley Trailhead instead.

As you can see on the map below, our route out varied a bit from the route we took back and each way had its pros and cons. The way out was a little longer and had more elevation change, while the way back involved a steep, challenging section that I don't recommend for inexperienced hikers or people with kids.

Going out: There is a big uphill from Rodeo Beach to Battery Townsley and beyond. We followed signs for the Coastal Trail, which is wide and even paved in places here, and then turned left onto the Wolf Ridge Trail which is dirt, single track, somewhat steep and can be slick due to loose grit, fine gravel. After a big downhill into Tennessee Valley, we crossed a small stream and a trail to the beach and then took a left followed quickly by a right to get back on the Coastal Trail.

From here, the trail heads up another big hill and then back down around Pirate Cove. The last stretch into the Muir Beach area is somewhat level before heading down. You can go left to the beach or right to go more directly to the Pelican Inn, which is a fantastic place to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner or grab a beer before turning around.

On the way back: After checking out Muir Beach and later along the trail accepting plastic eggs with candy from an adult wearing large bunny ears, we took a trail down to Tennessee Valley Beach, crossed the stream, and took a somewhat difficult to follow, incredibly steep and windy section of the Coastal Trail to get back up to Battery Townsley. This area has a maze of trails that wind through interesting old military buildings and tunnels. After doing some exploring, we headed down the hill to the parking area feeling tired, but accomplished.

Rodeo Beach

Monday, April 11, 2016

Iron Ranger Challenge: Miles 10-20 (Buffalo River Trail - Maumee to Highway 14 Bridge)

Greetings my friends!

For my second leg of the Iron Ranger Challenge, I retraced my footsteps back to a hike along the Buffalo River Trail I first traversed in February of 2013. The trail section from Highway 14 to Maumee offers scenic views and a dynamic terrain, from open vistas of the river to crossing through giant river cane fields. I used Johnnie's previous post on this blog for reminders of the trail. It was a special memory for me because I was in my second year living in Arkansas and was still getting settled in. For my and Johnnie's basically shared birthday, February 1st and 2nd respectively, we celebrated with friends by spending the weekend in Gilbert, Arkansas. We traveled to the Buffalo River for hiking and the list of trail participants went Johnnie, Angela, Justin, Laura, and Michael. All of these people are some of my favorite friends and we had an amazing time exploring the Buffalo River Trail that weekend. I have known Justin and Laura since 2005 and shared lots of good times in college and on the baseball field with Justin. And you know Johnnie, he is cool. Angela is another wonderful friend who is passionate about sustainability. And my main bro Michael Eastham is doing big things in DC, and I will be seeing him soon. They all are amazing people.

This time around I wanted to make sure to hike with friends again and not just solo like my first Iron Ranger trek. I plan to mix it up throughout the Iron Ranger Challenge between solo and shared experiences. Because of springing forward for daylight savings, there were not too many up to the morning hike, but my good friend Nick was willing and eager to join. It was his first time on this part of the Buffalo River Trail and since we didn't have the shuttling option with two cars we chose to do an out and back starting at the Maumee trailhead. This trailhead can be a bit difficult to find and I suggest using the following marker to get directions to this point, whether you are starting here or shuttling from the location.

36°01'22.7"N 92°36'59.5"W

The hike started out in a heavily wooded area and it took about a mile to get to some waterfall action. I have always found it special to hike after a heavy rainfall because you find falling water where it only happens every once and awhile. Nick and I often stopped to listen to passing water, one of my favorite sounds in the world. Any babbling brook has my attention. When you get to Mile 3 be on the lookout for a river crossing. No matter what time of year, you will be wading through water. Just to note, if your shoes get wet, you can use them again. At around Mile 3.9 you are treated to one of the best of vistas of the Buffalo River (see picture 3 below). After we took a break here, we continued to mile 5.5 where there is clear marker (see picture 5) and is when we chose to turn around. The weather could not have been better for an early spring hike and I was so happy to be outside for trek on the Iron Ranger Challenge.

Sharing the trails with my friends makes me smile inside and out. Johnnie and I also had a chance to hike this past weekend along the infamous pacific coast and we look forward to sharing that experience with you soon!

I'll be back on the Buffalo River Trail later this month. Let me know any of your favorite sections, I may just check them out and am always open to suggestions. Happy trails to you, until we meet again!

*All pictures below taken by my friend Nick*

1. Waterfall

2. Be on the Lookout for White Blazes

Bufalo River Trail

3. Buffalo River Vista

4. Trail Marker

5. Friendly PSA: Gilbert is the Coolest Town in Arkansas

6. JK3, Mark Eastham - future Iron Ranger Trek friend, Nick (from left to right)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Eagle Rock Loop - Ouachita National Forest

As a lover and avid-explorer of the Ozark mountains, I was surprised to find myself in personally-uncharted Arkansas territory. Just four hours south of northwest Arkansas sit the Ouachita mountains, a must-experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Distinct from the Ozarks in their shaping through plate collision rather than water carving, the Ouachitas offer a unique magic and array of trails of their own.

The first time I visited the Ouachitas was last summer for a leisurely weekend of camping. While heading to swim in the river we bumped into a couple, carrying hefty packs on their back. They were in the middle of backpacking a 26.8 mile loop. Inspired, we vowed to make it back during the colder months.

A weekend trip in late January finally brought myself and two others back to tackle the multi-day hike we’d been dreaming of. The Eagle Rock Loop is a connection of three trails-- Little Missouri, Athens-Big Fork, and Viles Branch Trail-- each with its own unique challenges and jewels. For those looking for an alternative to the Buffalo River Valley, or other Ozark Mountain classics, I’d highly recommend this trek. Close enough for a weekend trip, this mountainous loop offers a fresh perspective on our state, closely resembling the ecosystem of the lower Rockies.

The Eagle Rock Loop is one of thick evergreens and recurrent river crossings. It is one of steep climbs and spacious views, of physical challenge yet mental freedom, and offers those who take on the feat a rich reward around every corner. Trails carved into the faces of six different mountains, the loop leads its visitors to six unique panoramic views...

Click here to read the rest of the article over at the Fayetteville Flyer!

-Ashleigh Rose (@aroseprice) is an Arkansas native, yoga instructor, adventure-addict, and blog producer for Fayettechill Outdoors Co.

Sunrise at Eagle Rock Vista. Photo by Rush Urschel

Map and additional details  at:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Yosemite in the Spring

I visited Yosemite once again last weekend, but for the first time since moving back to the Bay Area. It was my first time staying in Yosemite Valley and that made a huge difference in terms of getting on the nearby trails before the crowds. We picked a perfect time to go because the waterfalls were raging and the roads were clear, but you could still get in a snowy experience if you wanted. We also went at a unique and confusing time when many landmarks had been renamed as part of a trademark lawsuit, but they weren't renamed on every sign, map, or brochure, so we had to learn two names for some things.

We did a few hikes/casual strolls in the valley and a nice snowshoe near Badger Pass and I've described them below.

I've also written about Yosemite here and here.

Mirror Lake - 
There are multiple trails that lead to Mirror Lake and they range from wide and paved to small and somewhat rocky. Two or three routes start (or pass by) The Awahnee /Majestic Yosemite Hotel and another leaves from Curry/Half Dome Village.

It is about a 2-mile round-trip walk if you just go to the lake and back. A longer, 5-mile loop takes you to the lake, around it, and back. The paved trails are great for people with kids, strollers, or wheelchairs, but be advised the paved section ends right at, or right before, the lake.
One of the paved trails to Mirror Lake with nice view of Half Dome.

Mirror Lake being true to its name.

More Mirror Lake
Examples of two different types of trails leading to Mirror Lake.

Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls -
This spectacular and strenuous hike takes you up close to two amazing waterfalls. If you just go to the top of Vernal Falls it is 2.4 miles round trip via the Mist Trail and much of the trail is paved or stone. Nevada Falls is a bit farther (5.4 round trip) and the trail beyond Vernal Falls is more natural.

Don't take the Mist Trail (which is closed in Winter) if you have trouble with sheer ledges or walking on steep, moist, stone steps. On a separate trip I learned these steps can get really icy too! Taking the longer way may not take much more time since it is more gradually sloped, typically has less traffic, and has no bottlenecks. We took the Mist Trail up and decided to avoid it on the way back down by taking the John Muir Trail.

Vernal Falls has a large open rock area that is great for resting, eating, or waiting your turn to take photos close to the waterfall.

Looking over Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls

Nevada Falls

Badger Pass Snowshoe - It has been a goal of mine to one day snowshoe or crosscountry ski on Yosemite's many miles of machine-groomed snow trails. In the winter and early spring, much of Glacier Point Road is converted to a maintained snow trail with many more miles of marked trails often packed down by human traffic. I still hope to return and maybe backpack out to the Glacier Point Ski Hut for a night or two, but we did get in a nice snowshoe.
Our route left the Badger Pass Ski Area on Old Glacier Point Road, then turned up a steep hill to take in the views of the Clark Range from the Old Badger Pass Summit. From there we went back down the hill and on to Summit Meadow where we had lunch before returning via Glacier Point Road. My favorite parts were off the maintained tracks, but the machine-groomed sections definitely take less energy to travel on.

Valley Loop (parts of it) - 
As you may have guessed already, the Valley Loop Trail loops through much of Yosemite Valley. The full loop is 13 miles, but it can easily be done in smaller sections. While exploring the Valley, we frequently found ourselves on this trail enjoying its great views of all the waterfalls and impressive rock features. If you have the energy, this trail offers a fantastic alternative to driving slowly around the valley while stuck in infuriating traffic. It is quieter, more peaceful, and provides a more personal experience of the awe-inspiring scenery that draws so many people to Yosemite.

Check out my other Yosemite posts on:
Ten Lakes, Emerald Lake, Cathedral Pass, & more
Hetch Hetchy

California Readers: Interested in getting paid to unplug your laptop or turn off a light for an hour? $20 just for joining OhmConnect, learn more at:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Iron Ranger Challenge: Miles 0-9 (Pea Ridge National Military Park - Horse Trail)


On Saturday, February 27, I set out on my first Iron Ranger trek of the year on an unseasonably warm winter morning. For my first hike this year, I chose to go to a new spot I have never visited in the Arkansas National Parks, Pea Ridge National Military Park. Lucky for readers, Johnnie has already visited this spot before and has prepared a write-up for a forthcoming guidebook. I will be including his notes for details about the trail itself.

The short history of Pea Ridge is as follows: "On March 7-8, 1862, 26,000 soldiers fought here to decide the fate of Missouri and the West. The 4,300 acre battlefield honors those who fought for their beliefs. Pea Ridge was one of the most pivotal Civil War battles and is the most intact Civil War battlefield in the United States.[source] The cost of entry will run you $7.00 unless you are a current National Park pass holder or fall into the child or senior categories. It was well worth the price and I was happy to support the NPS. The staff were welcoming and the visitor center was pleasantly set out in front of the expansive battlefield of Pea Ridge.

There are two options for hikers at Pea Ridge National Military Park. The Horse trail or the Hiking Trail. I chose the Horse Trail because it was easier to find the trailhead and I ended up enjoying it because there were no other people on the trail and I enjoyed the solitude the Saturday morning experience brang. I always favor the road less traveled by, it makes all the difference. I was joined by Roxie, a terrier mix, who I was dogsitting, and she proved to be the perfect companion for the hike. We stopped for water only a few times. I was amazed by the vistas and taken aback by the sheer size of the battlefield. The following paragraphs are Johnnie's detailed trail notes.

The Horse Trail is a long loop trail, approximately 9 miles, and visits parts of the park that the hiking trail misses. Hiking this trail is discouraged when horses are present, but you can check at the Visitor Center or look for trailers at the trailhead. Due to the horse traffic, the trail can be mucky and boggy in places, especially in the days following a rain. That said, the trail is generally flatter and less rocky than the hiking trail. The main Horse Trail trailhead is shown on the park brochure map and is west of the Visitor Center. From the parking area, follow the gravel road west. After 0.1 mi. the trail forks, go left on what looks like a grassier dirt road. The trail is flat here and passes through an area with lots of oak trees and then through a cedar grove. In about a quarter-mile, the trail turns to the right and follows a what must be an old road or railroad bed. This half-mile long flat straight section is lined with mature trees and feels like a tree tunnel. Near the end of the straightaway, Pratt's field is visible off to the right and inland seaoats fill the understory. From here, the trail turns left and goes slightly downhill into more of a bottomland area with young sycamore and oaks.

At the 1.0 mile mark, the trail crosses Lee Creek, which has a bedrock bottom that can be slick when wet. Across the creek, moss-covered cedar provide color in the winter months. In another 250 yards, the trail crosses a smaller creek. The woods in this area are fairly open and likely kept that way through the use of controlled burns (some evidence of which was visible when I visited). In a quarter-mile, the trail forks in an open grassy area with lots of sumac. The branch to the left connects to the loop road north of the Leetown Battlefield site. Stay straight and continue on the main trail.

In another quarter-mile, the trail passes through another open area and then into some drier rockier woods as it makes its way around the west side of Round Mountain through Morgan's Woods.

At the 1.9 mile mark, the horse trail hits Ford Road, you can take a right to do the shorter horse trail loop. Turn left and follow Ford Road to the paved loop. A hundred yards after you cross the road, you'll come to nice pond on your right which is at the 2.0 mile mark. The trail here is wide, slightly eroded, and lined with Osage Orange trees and cedars. As you head northwest, some large fields are visible through the woods off to the left. A small, less scenic, pond off to the left marks the 3.2 mile mark.

A couple hundred yards later, a side trail branches off to the left and leaves the park. Stay right to stay on the main trail which follows the park boundary for just under half a mile before turning south and heading back towards the heart of the park. The road continues straight, but the trail, sign, and blazes directing you to the right are easy to spot. The trail heads gradually uphill for the next mile or so. At the 5.1 mile mark, a side trail forks off to the right and connects to the paved road. The trail can be difficult and boggy in this area. A short rock wall parallels the trail off to the right here for about half a mile, then the trail turns right and steeply uphill passing through the rock wall and up on top of Elkhorn Mountain where it levels out.

At 5.8 mi. the trail reaches the edge of the mountain, offering great views in the winter of the surrounding hills, before heading downhill. Shortly after that, the trail crosses a small ephemeral stream, which when flowing, is home to a small scenic waterfall and cascades up the hill to your right. This section of the trail has some interesting large moss-covered boulders and logs. For a short distance a fence lines the left side of the trail, marking the edge of the park. At the 7.25 mile mark, the trail crosses the Hiking Trail and 100 yards later it crosses the paved road into a small wooded area with lots of Osage Oranges, oaks, and hickories. You can see the Elkhorn Tavern off to the left and in another 200 yard the trail reaches the road again and runs alongside it.

At 7.5 mi. the trail intersects Old Ford Road (this is where you'd come out if you took the shortcut mentioned earlier, or feel free to check it out from this side. Continuing along the road, in 250 yards, the hiking trail forks off to the left. This section of the trail offers great views of the large fields in the center of the park where much of the fighting took place. Numerous cannons and vivid descriptions on educational signage aid in imagining how different the now peaceful and beautiful area must have been for those days in 1862.

At the 8.1 mile mark, with the visitor center visible off to your left, the trail slants away from the road following the fence line and into the woods.

At the end of the day, the solitude of hike and the perfect weather helped me reflect on the winter experiences thus far and prepare for the week ahead. I am grateful to Johnnie for providing his trail notes and definitely plan to visit Pea Ridge National Military Park again.

Lastly, if anyone didn't see the exciting Lonely Planet announcement, Northwest Arkansas was ranked #7 on their Top 10 places to Visit in the U.S. This is a big deal, go Natural State!

Until next time, thanks for reading and I wish you a wonderful transition into the spring.


Pictures Below Include: 1. Welcome Sign on Visitor Center 2. Picture of Horse Trail Marker, be on the lookout for these to stay on track 3. Picture of Roxie by pond along the trail 4. Picture of battlefield 5. My Route of the Horse Trail, there is also a map available on the NPS website






Saturday, February 6, 2016

Old St. Hillary's Open Space Preserve in Tiburon, CA

I recently moved to Tiburon in California and am too lazy to start a new blog, so there will be lots of CA related posts on here going forward. Most people access individual articles on here directly from Google anyways, so I don't think this will be a big deal. If it gets too annoying I can hide them down in the archives. John Kester III and I will continue to post articles on Arkansas trails and issues as well.

I have a new favorite park/trail in the Bay Area and it is St. Hilary's Open Space Preserve in Tiburon! This gem of a park has INSANE views of the bay. From the top of the hill, you can see much of the East Bay, San Francisco, and Marin County; including 3 of the major Bay Area bridges (Bay, Golden Gate, and Richmond-San Rafael). From one point, shown in the panorama below you can see Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland, Angel Island, San Francisco, Sausalito, and up to Mt. Tamalpais.

This site has more information on the history and ecology of the area:

Click to Enlarge. That is Richmond on the left and Mt. Tam area on the right! Angel Island is near the center.
Old St. Hilary's

Monday, February 1, 2016

Iron Ranger Challenge: Get a Move on in Arkansas National Parks!

Iron Ranger Challenge: Mile 0 

My name is John Kester III and you may have seen me mentioned in some of Johnnie's previous posts (see Dogwood Walking Spring Path; Mt. Kessler Greenways; Swimming Holes 2). I am grateful to Johnnie for introducing me to the awesome outdoors of Arkansas. I now have the privilege of posting on the Trails of Arkansas blog in the coming year to document my experience pursuing the Iron Ranger Challenge.

On January 1, 2016, the national parks of Arkansas kicked off the Iron Ranger Challenge ( — a year long program to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and encourage healthy and active lifestyles for park visitors.

Over the course of the year, visitors can choose to hike, bike, paddle, walk, run, or roll 100 miles in any or all of the Arkansas National Parks. Arkansas National Parks include: Arkansas Post National MemorialBuffalo National River; Central High School National Historic Site; Clinton Birthplace National Historical Site; Fort Smith National Historic SiteHot Springs National Park; Pea Ridge National Military Park; Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

Visitors who complete 100 miles of activity will receive a special Centennial Iron Ranger Challenge commemorative award. 

As of January 7, over 400 people have signed up for the Iron Ranger Challenge!

To register for the Iron Ranger Challenge, simply enter your first name and email at the following website Once you confirm your subscription, you'll receive periodic emails with event details, training and wellness tips, and activity suggestions. On the first day of each month -- beginning February 1 -- you'll receive an email form to record your mileage for the previous month.

Buffalo National River Deputy Superintendent Laura Miller encourages visitors of all ages and fitness levels to participate in the Centennial Iron Ranger Challenge. "The National Parks in Arkansas have so much to offer. Visitors can see spectacular views paddling the Buffalo River, take a bicycle tour of President Clinton's hometown at the Clinton Birthplace Home, hike in the Ouachita Mountains and then relax with a thermal bath at Hot Springs National Park, and see places where history was made from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. There are so many great options in Arkansas, so get out and have fun." Source.

I will be posting at the end of each month to share the miles covered and my experiences during my treks. I have copied below some additional information about the monthly guided hikes in Hot Springs National Park and the social media outlets for the Iron Ranger Challenge. Please share any comments and feel free to share your experience in Arkansas National Parks this year!



Hot Springs National Park Hike, 1st Saturday of each month through December 2016

Social Media for Iron Ranger Challenge:

Pictured below: Johnnie and I after the annual Mt Kessler Trail Run 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Marin County Parks, Trails, and Open Spaces

I've been exploring the parks, trails, and open spaces of Marin County since moving here in early 2016. I've given some (like Old St. Hilary's) their own posts but am going to cram a lot of them in this one and provide more limited descriptions. If you want more info on any of these, let me know in the comments!

The Hippy Tree - Tiburon

The Hippy Tree is located off Gilmartin Dr. in Tiburon. There is parking available along the street and it is just a few hundred yards to the Hippy Tree from the road. After taking in the views from the tree, you can do a longer stroll up to and along the ridge just uphill from there. The first time I went there was a swing, but it was broken by my next visit. If you go, wear good shoes (and maybe bring a trash bin) because there is a lot of broken glass in the area. Leave a comment if you want to organize a cleanup with me!

View from the Hippy Tree in Tiburon

The Hippy Tree
Hippy Tree Views

The Old Railroad Trail - Tiburon

This trail runs along the coast of Tiburon, has great views, and is fairly flat. Lots of people use it to commute, get to school, and for recreational jogging and biking. The longer Bay Trail overlaps the Old Railroad Trail in places and if you do this section of the Bay Trail consider side-trips to the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Main Street Tiburon, and Ark Row. I also like taking the scenic route through Belvedere and taking in the views of fancy houses, San Francisco, and the Bay from Beach Rd.

Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary 

Beach Road View

Ring Mountain - Tiburon

Ring Mountain is an open space in NW Tiburon with lots of great trails. While the views may not be quite as amazing as nearby Old St. Hilary's, they are still fantastic and Ring Mountain has interesting rock features and wooded patches to boot.

Rodeo Beach and Lagoon - Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Rodeo Beach is one of my favorite spots in the area. I like to take my dog there in the morning when almost no one else is there. The beach is pretty long and nearby trails provide interesting hikes around the lagoon, up to nice viewpoints, and to old military structures. If you are lucky, you might spot an otter in the lagoon.

JK3 and I once hiked from Rodeo Beach to Muir Beach, ate breakfast (and drank a beer) at the Pelican Inn, and hiked back. I'll post a link here once we get that written up.

Make sure you stop by the Marine Mammal Center while you are nearby, but check their schedule first!

Tennessee Valley Trail and Beach - Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

A lot of great trails intersect the Tennessee Valley Trailhead at the end of Tennessee Valley Rd. One of the easiest and most popular is the fairly flat and wide trail down to the Tennessee Valley Beach. If you get to the beach and have a little extra energy, be sure to head up the steep, but short trail to the overlook.

Mt. Tamalpais

The drive up to Mt. Tam is long but has amazing views (and other great parks and trails) along the way. You can drive most of the way to the top of both summits and there is a nice fairly flat loop trail around the east summit that gives great views without too much work.

Mount Tamalpais, Mt. Tam, View of San Francisco Bay, Marin County, California. By Johnnie Chamberlin

Camino Alto Open Space - Mill Valley

Two fire roads crisscross this open space area, providing nice views of Mill Valley, San Francisco, and the Bay Bridge. The Escalon / Lower Summit Fire Road is pretty flat, while the Camino Alto / Del Casa Fire Road is steeper and in rougher shape. There are some smaller trails in here, but I haven't done any of them yet!

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