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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