North Bay Hikes (Marin County)
Golden Gate National Recreation Area - North of the Golden Gate Bridge
Hikers looking for bigger challenges may wish to explore other sections of the GGNRA. Try the 1.2-mile Ocean View Trail through the Muir Woods National Monument. The path wanders among old-growth redwoods, then takes you up where you can see the 600 to 800-year-old trees from above. For a route that loops, turn onto Lost Trail, then follow Fern Creek Trail, which takes you back to the start.
Hikers traveling with younger family members or those looking for a less strenuous hike will enjoy the Tennessee Valley Trail. This 1.7-mile path (3.4 miles round-trip) stretches from the parking area to Tennessee Beach. If you time your arrival just right, you may catch a glimpse of the shipwrecked SS Tennessee, revealed by the outgoing tides.
If you are prepared for rough terrain, follow the half-mile trail that ends at Point Bonita Lighthouse. If you plan to go inside the lighthouse, which is still active, be advised that hours are quite limited. Check the website for open hours and information.
Point Reyes National Seashore - Alamere Falls
It takes dedication to complete a 13-mile round-trip trek, but this one is well worth the effort. When you reach Wildcat Beach, a dramatic waterfall awaits. Alamere Falls is a tidefall, which is relatively uncommon. Fed by Alamere Creek, the falls pour over a 30-foot cliff onto the beach below. During high tide, it’s hard to tell where the falls end and the surf begins.
Be aware that this hike isn’t for the faint of heart. Aside from the distance, you gain 1,442 feet of elevation, making it somewhat strenuous. There is real danger near the edge of the cliff, both up top and down below. Stay away from the edge to avoid risking a fall. On the beach, keep in mind that rocks can tumble down at any time.
There are three trailheads where you can park and launch your expedition: Bear Valley (6.3 miles via the Bear Valley, Glen, and Stewart Trails), Palomarin (5.5 miles via the Coast Trail), and Five Brooks (7.1 miles via the Stewart Trail).
Be advised: Alamere Falls may be limiting visitor capacity to better preserve the local environment.
Not all trails take you up hills and mountains. In the case of Kirby Cove, your hike starts with a steep descent. You'll pass by eucalyptus, pine, and cypress trees. When you reach the end, you will find yourself on a cozy beach. Take in panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge while gentle waves lap at your toes. To get there, park on Conzelman Road and head down old Kirby Cove Road.
Kirby Cove became popular with adventurers in search of a secret rope swing that was once located in the area. Unfortunately, the swing has been removed, but that doesn’t make Kirby Cove any less spectacular.
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