Great Marin County Hikes

Experience Marin’s pastoral soul on the coast and inland on a dozen-plus strolls.

Generations of residents have lobbied, volunteered, and donated land to preserve Marin County’s open space. The hundred-plus trails that lace the county rank high among the benefits of all this activism. Ask ten local hikers to compile a list of great Marin County hikes, and you’ll get ten different lineups, but some of these walks will show up on every list. Click on the hike’s link for the full review.

Western snowy plover are among Abbotts Lagoon’s protected species.

Abbotts Lagoon

Scenic path winds to dune-backed Point Reyes beach.

Difficulty level: Easy.

Why locals love it: Lush flora; native and migratory birds; setting.

Battery Mendell exists in a photogenic state of decay.

Battery Mendell to Battery Townsley

Abandoned military sites and sweeping ocean views make for a memorable stroll.

Difficulty level: Easy to moderate.

Why locals love it: Rugged beauty; varied terrain; coastal views.

Plant life and lake and coastal views are among the enticements of the Coast to Trail to Bass Lake and Alamere Falls hike.

Coastal Trail to Bass Lake and Alamere Falls

Sensory pleasures on the way to a lake and a waterfall.

Difficulty level: Easy, except for the final (moderate) approach to Alamere Falls.

Why locals love it: Views; wildlife; spring flowers.

Expansive views unfold along the Coastal, Wolf Ridge, and Miwok trails.

Coastal, Wolf Ridge, Miwok Trails Loop

Remnants of hot and cold wars add a historical component to this invigorating Marin Headlands hike with city, ocean, and mountain views.

Difficulty level: Moderate.

Why locals love it: Terrific views; interesting slices of natural and military history.

Marker for the annual Dipsea Race, a Marin County staple for more than a century.

Dipsea Trail

Follow the path of a century-old race on this rewarding trek from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach or vice versa.

Difficulty level: Challenging.

Why locals love it: Rugged terrain; inland and coastal scenery; sense of accomplishment.

The view’s worth the hike up Mt. Tam’s East Peak.

East Peak Mount Tamalpais

Climb the county’s tallest mountain for views of San Francisco, three bays, and beyond.

Difficulty level: Moderate to challenging.

Why locals love it: Good workout; perfect views; top-of-the-world feeling.

The loop trail from Mt. Tam into Muir Woods and back is one of Marin’s most popular hikes.

Mount Tamalpais Muir Woods Loop

Hike the scenic “back-door” route into Muir Woods National Monument.

Difficulty level: Moderate.

Why locals love it: Good workout; peaceful way to enter Muir Woods.

Farm structures at Olompali State Historic Park, whose serene setting belies its occasionally salacious past.

Olompali State Historic Park

Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin partied at this sedate northern Marin outpost.

Difficulty level: Moderate.

Why locals love it: Secluded; views from near the peak; fascinating history.

At the western end of the Marin Headlands, visitors pass through a tunnel and across this suspension bridge to access Point Bonita Lighthouse.

Rodeo Lagoon to Point Bonita Lighthouse

Take in lagoon, dune, and ocean views en route to 19th-century lighthouse.

Difficulty level: Easy to moderate.

Why locals love it: Varied lagoon views; shorebirds; ocean; lighthouse; Battery Mendell.

Rocks at Rodeo Beach.

Rodeo Lagoon Trail Loop

Photo ops abound in shorebirds’ natural habitat.

Difficulty level: Easy.

Why locals love it: Bird-watching; photo ops; mellow.

Canopy view at Roy’s Redwoods Open Space Reserve.

Roy’s Redwoods Open Space Preserve

Tall trees and wildflowers await off the beaten path.

Difficulty level: Easy to moderate.

Why locals love it: Redwood grove; solitude.

Beat writer Jack Kerouac descended this ladder’s predecessor in the 1950s.

Steep Ravine to Matt Davis Loop

See redwoods galore heading uphill from Stinson, downhill from Mount Tamalpais. 

Difficulty level: Moderate.

Why locals love it: Scenic Stairmaster; mix of coastal and redwood views.

Richly colored cliffs reward hikers who make it to the beach at Tennessee Valley.

Tennessee Valley

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

Difficulty level: Easy.

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

Herd grazes at Tule Elk Preserve.

Tule Elk Preserve

Magnificent animals graze in former ranch’s windswept meadows.

Difficulty level: Moderate.

Why locals love it: stately elk; beetles, weasels, hawks, and other wildlife; Pacific Ocean views.

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