Hiking in Central Marin

Southern Marin | West Marin | Northern Marin

On Mount Tamalpais

Within a couple hours, most hikers can reach the 2,571-foot summit of the east peak from the valley floor. If you’re planning to bring your pup, check ahead; dogs are not allowed on the trails within the Mount Tam State Park system (except aid dogs), while on fire roads such as Old Railroad Grade or Eldridge Grade, which fall under the Marin Municipal Water District purview, dogs are allowed on leash.

The following two hikes take off from the Pantoll Ranger Station.

Coastal Trail to Cataract to Old Mine Trail Loop (5.8 miles)

From the Pantoll Ranger Station, cross the Panoramic Highway and head west on the Coastal Trail (also the Matt Davis Trail), just below the Pantoll (Southside) Road. Follow the trail through the forest and out onto Bolinas Ridge for dramatic coastal views. At the fork, continue on the narrow Coastal Trail, until you reach Willow Camp Fire Road; take a right, and prepare for a steep ascent. Cross the paved Ridgecrest Road and continue until the path intersects with Cataract Trail, turn right and follow the trail along the creek. The trail ends at the Rock Spring parking lot. Head south across Ridgecrest Boulevard to Old Mine Trail, which will end up back at Pantoll Ranger Station.

Steep Ravine Loop (3.5 miles)

From the Pantoll Ranger Station, head south on the Old Mine Trail (southern edge of parking lot). After about half a mile, turn right onto the Dipsea Trail, where you will have fantastic coastal views on a clear day. This is the downhill portion of your loop; enjoy it, because you’ll be heading up a steady incline when you connect with the Steep Ravine Trail, where the Dipsea Trail bridges Webb Creek. Turn right on Steep Ravine and begin a scenic climb along a mystical creekbed. (A small ladder must be climbed on this portion of the trail.)

Pantoll Ranger Station: From Mill Valley Miller Ave to Montford; follow this road (which turns into Molino, then Edgewood, then Sequoia Valley) and turn right onto Panoramic Hwy. Continue to intersection with Pantoll Rd. Parking lot is on the left.
From Fairfax: East on Sir Francis Drake Blvd to Pacheco Ave; turn right. Right onto Broadway Blvd. Left on Bolinas Rd, which becomes Fairfax-Bolinas Rd; turn right on West Ridgecrest, Blvd and right again on Pantoll Rd. Parking lot at intersection with Panoramic Hwy.

Verna Dunshee Trail (1.2 miles)

Circumnavigating Mount Tam’s east peak, this walk is ideal for those who want to get a little exercise along with stunning 360-degree vistas of the entire Bay Area. The paved path is wheelchair accessible, making it easy for everyone—including those with limited mobility or strollers—to enjoy the sweeping views. At a leisurely pace, the trip takes about 20 minutes. For more of a challenge, summit Mount Tam, trailhead takes off from the same parking lot.

From Pantoll Ranger Station, right onto Pantoll Rd, right on Ridgecrest Blvd; follow to the parking lot. 

Rock Spring Loop (1.5 miles)

This is a relatively flat and generally shaded hike. The Cataract Trail begins from the gate at the Rock Spring parking lot. The trail parallels Cataract Creek, emerging briefly from the foliage into the Laurel Dell meadow, where you go right onto the Mickey O’Brien Trail to Barth’s Retreat. Take the connector fire road to the Laurel Dell Fire Road, then go right onto the Ben Stein Trail. From here it’s another mile back to Rock Spring.

From Pantoll Ranger Station, take Pantoll Rd to the first intersection. Pull into parking lot. Trailhead is along the eastern edge. 

Old Gravity Car to Railroad Grade Loop (3.1 miles)

A great loop with a slight incline, steep downhill and south-facing views. Head out on Gravity Car Grade, just beyond the dirt overflow parking lot to the right of the Throckmorton Ridge Fire Station. Redwood groves open up to chaparral shrubs and vistas and, in time, a fork in the road marked by a stately madrone tree. Veer left onto Old Railroad Grade and continue uphill. The slope is gradual but noticeable. Look for Hogback Trail to the left, and take it for a steep descent back to the parking lot. Dogs OK on leash.

From Pantoll Ranger station, head east on Panoramic Hwy. The Mountain Home Inn will be on the left.

From Miller Ave in Mill Valley, take Montford to Panoramic Hwy. Park in the lot across from the Mountain Home Inn, or find a spot on the dirt road, just past the inn.

Mount Tamalpais; 2,751 feet; (5 or 10 miles, one-way)

Whether you park halfway up or start from the bottom, you’ll be grateful for the 360-degree Bay Are perspective from the top of Mount Tam.

In Larkspur

Ladybug Loop in Baltimore Canyon (3.2 miles)

From the trailhead, cross the bridge over Larkspur Creek and head up the Dawn Falls Trail. The Ladybug Trail begins on the right
bank of the creek, across the second bridge on the trail.

Zigzag up the valley to the King Mountain Loop Trail. As the narrow trail intersects with a wider road, turn left onto Ridgecrest Road, just beyond the chain-link gate. Follow Ridgecrest to Evergreen, turn left, and then take another left onto Crown Road, which becomes the Southern Marin Line Fire Road. Dawn Falls Trail is .3 mile on the left. There’s a steep descent along the banks of the Larkspur Creek, where Dawn Falls will be flowing after a good rain. Dogs OK on leash.

Hwy 101 to Tamalpais Dr exit (west). Right on Corte Madera Ave, which becomes Magnolia Ave. Go left on Madrone Ave, which will veer to the right and become Valley Way. Trailhead is at the end of Valley Way. Parking is limited.

In Ross

Bald Hill Loop (4.9 miles)

Start at the trailhead off the parking lot and take the Phoenix Lake Fire Road counterclockwise to the Worn Springs Fire Road. The climb to the top of Bald Hill is unrelenting, a great workout, and it’s well worth exerting all that energy for the views! The Yolanda Trail spur is two miles up on the left. It is a beautiful climb back down to Phoenix Lake, especially in spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom. Dogs OK on leash.

Hwy 101 to Sir Francis Drake Blvd exit (west). Left on Lagunitas Rd to Phoenix Lake. Parking is limited, so be prepared to walk in from the surrounding neighborhood.

In San Rafael

China Camp Loop (3.4 miles)

Cross North San Pedro Road and walk up the paved service road to the signed Shoreline Trail. Turn right toward the Miwok Meadows. The trail winds through the woods and wanders back through small grassy meadows. Turn left onto the Miwok Fire Trail, where, with a bit of a climb, you’ll find the Oak Ridge Trail, and veer left. A portion of the trail will cross with the McNears Fire Trail. Stay on Oak Ridge Trail to complete the loop back to the ranger station. No dogs.

Hwy 101 to Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Head west. Go east approximately 5 miles to the Bullhead Flat trailhead. Park on the road.

680 Trail (2.8 miles)

The new 2.8-mile “680 Trail” connects Loma Alta and Terra Linda Open Space Preserve lands. After years of construction, a wide, multiuse trail cuts runs through the hillside, bridges and decorative rockwork. It also allows access to the top of Loma Alta — one of Marin’s highest points, boasting an impressive 360-degree view of Marin — from both Sleepy Hollow and Terra Linda. There are three points of entry for the trail: in Fairfax near White Hill at Brown Bridge (2.3 miles, 1,100-foot ascent plus another 1.6 miles and 800-foot ascent); at Terra Linda Open Space Preserve (1.4 miles, 600-foot ascent); and on Lucas Valley Road, across from Big Rock Trail (2.2 miles, 900-foot ascent).  Dogs are permitted.

Back to Hiking in Marin

Calendar of Events

Vive @ Novato, California
Aug 12 2019 – Nov 24 2020 all-day
Vive @ Novato, California | | |

A free style dance where you can feel free to move the way you like. All the family is welcome

Sustainable Success Summit @ Virtual
Oct 16 2019 – Oct 1 2020 all-day
Sustainable Success Summit @ Virtual | | |

Explore What’s Possible

Be part of the movement of women who receive more by doing less, while honoring their ambition and using their voice as a vehicle for change.

Get to know a dynamic group of female entrepreneurs who are doing things differently

In this virtual summit, we explore self-care by slowing down, trusting ourselves, and getting off the hamster wheel to create a life of our own making.

Dharma and Yoga Teacher Training @ Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Jan 27 @ 9:00 am – May 3 @ 5:00 pm
Dharma and Yoga Teacher Training @ Spirit Rock Meditation Center

A five-month training program for meditation and mindfulness practitioners and aspiring yoga teachers.

This immersive training program addresses body, mind, and heart through the study of mindful asana, pranayama, anatomy, mindfulness principles, meditation, and the wisdom teachings of yoga and Buddhism.

Fulfills the requirements for the Yoga Alliance 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher certification.

Emphasis on the integration of meditation and mindfulness with movement.

Incorporates non-residential silent retreat practice and the joy and support of building community together.

Minimum of a two-year yoga and mindfulness practice required.

TEACHING TEAM: Djuna Mascall, Leslie Booker, Mark Coleman, Anne Cushman, Sean Feit Oakes, and Tias Little

DJUNA MASCALL teaches Prajna Yoga nationally and internationally. She is a leader of the Spirit Rock Dharma and Yoga Teacher Training Program and a certified yoga therapist in private practice. Her offerings combine meditation and dharma study with asana training designed to cultivate sensory awareness and embodied wisdom.

LESLIE BOOKER brings her heart and wisdom to the intersection of dharma, embodied wisdom, and activism. She worked with vulnerable populations in New York City for over a decade and shares her experience nationally speaking at conferences. She has contributed to several publications. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Mindful Yoga and Meditation training (2012) and Community Dharma Leaders’ Training (2017) and will complete Spirit Rock’s Teacher Training in 2020.

MARK COLEMAN, MA, has been teaching Insight Meditation retreats since 1997. He also leads wilderness meditation retreats, integrating mindfulness meditation with nature, and is the author of Awake in the Wild, Make Peace with Your Mind, and From Suffering to Peace.

ANNE CUSHMAN is a pioneer in the integration of mindfulness, embodied meditation, and creative expression. A member of the Teachers’ Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, she founded the first Buddhist meditation training for yoga teachers. Her books include The Mama Sutra, Enlightenment for Idiots, and Moving Into Meditation.

TIAS LITTLE synthesizes classical yoga, Sanskrit, Buddhist studies, anatomy, massage, cranial-sacral therapy, and trauma healing. He has studied the meditative arts and Buddhism for 30+ years and has an MA in Eastern Philosophy. Tias is the author of The Thread of Breath, Meditations on a Dewdrop, and Yoga of the Subtle Body.

SEAN FEIT OAKES, PhD, teaches Buddhism and Yoga focusing on the integration of meditation, trauma resolution, and social justice. He received teaching authorization from Jack Kornfield and wrote his dissertation on extraordinary meditative states. His current research explores identity, ancestry, and rebirth, and working with the body in contemplative inquiry.

Elmer Bischoff: A Survey of Paintings and Drawings @ Marin Museum of Contemporary Art
Feb 29 – Apr 19 all-day
Elmer Bischoff: A Survey of Paintings and Drawings @ Marin Museum of Contemporary Art

Elmer Bischoff: A Survey of Paintings and Drawings
Exhibit Dates: February 29 – April 19

Art Talk: Feb. 29, 4-5pm
Reception: Feb. 29, 5-7pm

“Elmer Bischoff: A Survey of Paintings and Drawings, 1937 – 1972,” is an exhibit that includes 38 expressive works that illustrate Bischoff’s visual journey from abstraction to figuration, and back again, over the course of four decades. Bischoff was a Bay Area painter deeply engaged in the practice of putting paint on canvas in a way that kept him constantly searching for something just out of his reach. His paintings are sensual and lyrical, with marks and compositions influenced by his love of music, including New Orleans Jazz and classical music.

The exhibit is comprised of rarely-viewed paintings and drawings, loaned from private collections and from members of Bischoff’s family. MarinMOCA is grateful for the expert assistance of George Adams, Bischoff Estate representative and owner of the George Adams Gallery, located in New York. Mr. Adams explains, “This exhibition is not so much about Elmer Bischoff becoming a painter as it is about his being a painter who pursued something essential in each work through many transformations of subject and process. One could say that he listened to his paintings and responded honestly until he could no longer hear what they were saying, whereupon he made the necessary switch to another genre. This approach fulfilled Bischoff’s desire to keep his work “alive and in the present.” This exhibit furthers the Bischoff legacy and illuminates an artist who remains one of our 20th century Bay Area legends.

Exhibit Admission: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65+ and students 18-21. Free for members.

Adult Docent Tours: Thursdays at 11:00 am and Saturdays at 2:00 pm, beginning on March 5

An exhibition catalog featuring an essay by former Stanford Cantor Arts Center curator Hilarie Faberman will be available for purchase.

Learn about Bischoff in the Art Talk:

Meghan O’Callaghan, visiting art scholar from Toronto, will present an art talk about Bischoff on Sat., Feb 29, at 4pm in the upstairs gallery. She will present insightful background information that will make your gallery visit much more meaningful. The Opening Reception follows from 5pm – 7pm.

“Beyond Nature,” and “Deconstructed /Reconstructed” @ Desta Gallery
Feb 29 – Apr 11 all-day
“Beyond Nature,” and “Deconstructed /Reconstructed” @ Desta Gallery

Desta Gallery is pleased to announce two concurrent solo exhibitions: “Beyond Nature,” paintings by Chris Hayman and “Deconstructed / Reconstructed,” Collage by Marlene Walters, on view from February 29 to April 11, 2020, and a reception for the artists on Saturday, March 7, 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Chris Hayman received her BA in Art History at the University of Maryland and a second degree in Art at the University of Reno, Nevada where she started her investigation in painting. Hayman has exhibited actively with several galleries nationwide. Her work can be found in numerous private and corporate collections.

In her paintings, Hayman concerns herself with space. She is interested in how forms are energized by the space around them, especially when incorporated into paintings with vivid contrasting colors and thick painterly textures.

Marlene Walters earned a B.A. in Art from Mills College and became an award-winning corporate graphic designer. She returned to oil painting and studied with many notable painters including Van Waldron, in the lineage of Russian master painter Sergei Bongart. She exhibits throughout the Bay Area and beyond and has grown a loyal following of collectors, nationally and internationally.

Walters’ most recent work extends her exploration into complex assemblages of archival prints of her own paintings.

About Desta Gallery
Desta Gallery is a contemporary fine art gallery in downtown San Anselmo, featuring emerging, mid-career, and established artists. The gallery hosts artist receptions, art-related conversations, poetry readings and speaking engagements highlighting socially relevant themes. To learn more, please visit www.destagallery.com

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