9 Best Hikes in Marin County

Marin County has some of the best trail systems in the country. Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge, there are hundreds of miles of trails of all difficulty levels to keep you busy for years. But, if you are just looking for the absolute best trails, this list of 9 hikes in Marin County will give you a great starting point for exploring the area.

Point Reyes

Point Reyes National Seashore is definitely the crown jewel of Marin County hiking destinations. But with amazing photographic opportunities and camping, there is much more to Point Reyes than just hiking. If you are just looking for the best day hikes, read on! For more suggestions on what hikes to do in Point Reyes, see this list of 5 Best Hikes in Point Reyes 🙂

woman over looking coast at Point Reyes

Tomales Point

At the far northern tip of Point Reyes, the National Seashore doubles as an elk preserve. This 9 mile out and back hike takes you through the reserve all the way to Tomales Point. If you do this hike in the Fall, be prepared to hear the bugling of the Tule Elk.

The trail starts next to a historic ranch. It travels up and down over the mostly rocky landscape. At approximately mile 3.5, the trail becomes much less maintained. If you follow it all the way to Tomales Point, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay.

Alamere Falls

Taking the Palomarin Trail to Alamere Falls is the class Point Reyes hike. Alamere falls is one of only 3 waterfalls in the United States that falls directly into the ocean. If you decide to embark on this adventure, be sure to arrive early. Not only is the hike 10-12 miles, but parking fills up early on weekends.

The trail starts through the forest. Pay attention to the trail for salamanders! Between miles 5 and 6 is an unofficial short cut. If you have never done the trail before, I definitely recommend skipping the short cut on the way out. Less than half a mile later, the trail exits the forest and traverses the top of a coastal cliff. There is one last big climb before you descend down to Wildcat Camp. From here, you walk along the beach about a mile. Be careful, the beach can be nonexistent at high tide.

Bolinas Ridge

Technically, most of this trail is just outside of Point Reyes, in Samuel P Taylor State Park. This trail traverses a ridge for 10 miles with views down into the infamous San Andreas Fault. If you don’t have a way to do this hike in one direction, but aren’t feeling up for the 20 miles round trip, this is also a great trail to do some biking.

Bolinas Ridge

Technically, most of this trail is just outside of Point Reyes, in Samuel P Taylor State Park. This trail traverses a ridge for 10 miles with views down into the infamous San Andreas Fault. If you don’t have a way to do this hike in one direction, but aren’t feeling up for the 20 miles round trip, this is also a great trail to do some biking.

Muir Woods

Only a 20 minute drive from San Francisco, Muir Woods National Monument is definitely one of the most famous attractions in Marin, and for good reason. Muir woods provides opportunity to get up close and personal with some amazing, ancient redwoods.

Woman in Muir Woods

Bohemian Grove

This is the shortest hike on the list, but it packs a punch. The Bohemian Grove and Redwood Creek trail provide a scenic introduction to the giant redwoods. Some of the largest and oldest trees can be found directly from this trail.

This trail departs right from the parking lot and is paved almost the entire way. You walk alongside the river right up close to some of the most beautiful Redwood trees in the state. The trail is very easy to follow and will connect you with the rest of the trail system if you are feeling adventurous.

The Dipsea

The most famous (or infamous) trail in the headlands. The entire thing stretches from Sausalito to Stinson. If you are starting from the Muir woods, it is a great trail to get to Mount Tam. Or if you are in the mood for something low-key, it can be turned into a loop with the Ben Johnson Trail.

This trail also leaves from the parking lot, but you will be walking in a different direction than Bohemian Grove. The Dipsea starts with a massive climb up and out of the Muir Woods. Although you do a lot of vert, you never leave the tree cover. Eventually, this trail will meet up with Steep Ravine, which will take you all the way to Stinson Beach.

Mount Tamalpais

Affectionately known as Mount Tam, this 2,572 foot mountain is the tallest in Marin County. Most of the mountain is a state park. Because of this, there are plenty of trails crisscrossing the park. From a photography perspective, Mount Tam is the place to be when there is a fog inversion. But, the mountain is a great hiking destination all times of day.

Matt Davis Trail

The name Matt Davis doesn’t conjure the same images in most people’s heads as some of the other entries on this list, but it should! If you are starting from Stinson, the beginning of the hike is punishing. Once you get past the treeline, the views from this trail are some of the most spanning in the Bay!

The trailhead for Matt Davis is hidden in a neighborhood. Once you find it, you cross a bridge and then immediately start the switchbacks up through the forest. After gaining 1,500 feet in about 3 miles, you find yourself on the grassy slopes of Mount Tam. The trail follows a ridge with amazing views of the Bay and Ocean until it descends back into the forest.

Steep Ravine

This name of this trail says it all! You follow a river all the way down to the beach. Along the way, you will have to climb ladders, cross streams and even pass through a tunnel. If you attempt this after some rain, don’t expect to go home with clean shoes! Still, there is a reason this is one of the locals favorites hikes in the entire Bay Area, let alone Marin County.

Starting from the top, you descend through the forest pretty quickly. Be careful in the early section of the hike as the trail is often muddy! Once you get to the ladders, the trail starts to flatten out a bit more. You will walk another couple of miles through the forest before you pass under a tunnel and emerge just above the coast.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

So close to SF, you can see most of it from the top of the 7 hills. Golden Gate National Recreation Area is extremely accessible from the city. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t spectacular.

Angel Island

The most famous island in the San Francisco Bay is Alcatraz. But the locals know that Angel Island is a much more interesting place to visit. The island has an important history as the “Ellis Island” of the West Coast. The island perimeter trail will take you all around the island in about 6 miles.

From the ferry terminal, head right to do the perimeter loop in a clockwise direction. Heading clockwise, you will pass the historical immigrant processing facilities first. Continuing around, you will be treated to gorgeous skyline views of San Francisco. Finally, as you come back around, you will have the opportunity to check out the visitor center.

Muir Beach

Located approximately halfway between the Golden Gate Bridge and Stinson Beach, Muir Beach is the location of my absolute favorite Marin County hike. The 6 mile loop pretty much has it all – amazing coastal views, the rolling hills, and even a farm! Just like Alamere Falls, definitely get here early to get a parking spot!

From the parking lot, you climb up to a view point. Take a moment to just admire the coast! The next mile and a half is full of spectacular views. Once you get to the bottom of some stairs, it is time to climb. The climb is steep, but once you get to the top you have the opportunity to see the SF skyline. After you descend again, you travel through an organic farm – make sure you close the gate after you leave!

View of the golden gate bridge from Marin

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