Great Marin County Hikes – Tennessee Valley

One of the county’s easiest hikes is also among its most appealing, especially in springtime, when wildflowers bloom.

Given that a planned community of about 20,000 people was proposed for this site whose 3.6-mile round-trip trail leads inland to the ocean, it seems all the more miraculous that instead of traversing sidewalks winding past tract homes, you’re communing with pristine nature instead. While hawks and other birds fly overhead, you may well spot quail, rabbits, wild turkeys, and other animals enjoying the creek-laced habitat of diverse trees, grasses, and flowers. Rocky, photogenic pale-blue cliffs back the Pacific Ocean beach at the end of the trail. Magnificent.

California poppies along the trail.

Tennessee Valley Tips

This hike is best done on a weekday; parking here can be difficult on most weekends. If you must come on a weekend, do so early or late in the day.

For the most leisurely walk, take the Lower Tennessee Valley Trail when it forks off from the main trail, though the upper alternative is hardly a challenge either. (Think Yogi Berra: When you get to the fork in the road, take it.) For an awe-inspiring view, climb the path to the Tennessee Beach Overlook (lead photo is from partway up); you’ll see the sign for it on the right, just before the beach.

Richly colored rock formations reward hikers who make it to the beach.

Tennessee Valley Details

Difficulty level: Easy.

Why locals love it: Abundant flora, colorful cliffs, photo ops.

Cut to the chase: About a mile in, you can see the ocean not far in the distance.

Reward yourself: Stop by the bar at the Buckeye Roadhouse for coffee, a cocktail, or a light meal. From the trailhead parking lot, backtrack on Tennessee Valley Road and turn right at Shoreline Highway (Highway 1).

A few dozen wildflower species bloom in springtime.

Getting to Tennessee Valley

From U.S. 101 heading north or south, take the Highway 1/Stinson Beach exit. In less than a half-mile, head south (left) on Tennessee Valley Road, which dead-ends at the trailhead.


591 Tennessee Valley Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941

More Hikes Locals Love

Abbotts Lagoon
Battery Mendell to Battery Townsley
Coastal Trail to Bass Lake and Alamere Falls
Coastal, Wolf Ridge, Miwok Trails Loop
Dipsea Trail
East Peak Mount Tamalpais
Mount Tamalpais Muir Woods Loop
Olompali State Park
Rodeo Lagoon to Point Bonita Lighthouse
Rodeo Lagoon Trail Loop
Roy’s Redwoods Open Space Preserve
Steep Ravine to Matt Davis Loop
Tule Elk Preserve


You might see a bird . . .
. . . or a bunny along the Tennessee Valley Trail.
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