Golden Gate National Recreation Area/Marin Headlands,
National Park Service,
3.5 mile Marin Headlands loop, with spectacular views from the surrounding Marin hills to San Francisco.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 3.5 mile loop hike is easy, with about 800 feet in elevation change. Trailhead elevation is around 210 feet. The featured hike climbs to just over 1000 feet, then descends back to the trailhead. Grades are moderate with some steep sections.
Dirt fire roads and one trail.
From US 101 in Marin County, take the CA 1/Shoreline Highway exit. After about 0.5 mile, turn left onto Tennessee Valley Road. Go about 1.5 miles to the parking lot at the end of the road.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, stores, and restaurants back near US 101 in Marin City. There are a few camping options in the Headlands, including small camps at Kirby Cove and Bicentennial.
Ample parking (still gets full on weekends). No entrance or parking fees. There's a map under glass at the information signboard near the start of the Tennessee Valley Trail. Pay phone and pit toilets available. There are designated handicapped parking spots, and one trail is wheelchair accessible. No drinking water. Gas, restaurants, and stores in Tam Junction, about 2 miles east along Shoreline. The Buckeye Roadhouse, adjacent to the 101 southbound entrance ramp, is a good, convenient after hike food stop if you're headed back into San Francisco. There is no direct public transportation to this trailhead, but Golden Gate Transit bus lines 3 and 4 stop on nearby Shoreline Highway. From the bus stop it's almost 2 miles to the trailhead.
Most trails are multi-use. Some are open to hikers and equestrians only. Dogs are permitted on some Headlands trails (they are not allowed on every trail on the hike featured on this page); ask the staff at the Visitor Center for current information, or check the Headlands map on the link below.
The Official Story:
NPS's GGNRA page.
Marin Headlands Visitor Center 415-331-1540
Map from NPS (download Marin Headlands map).
Southern Marin Trail Map by Tom Harrison Maps. (order this map from Amazon.com) is a great guide.
A Rambler's Guide to the Trails of Mt. Tamalpais and the Marin Headlands, by the Olmsted & Bros. Map Co. (order this map from Amazon.com) is my old favorite.
Hiking Marin, by Don and Kay Marin, features a good map and brief park description (order this book from Amazon.com).
The Bay Area Ridge Trail, by Jean Rusmore (order this book from Amazon.com), has a decent map and descriptions of the Ridge Trail segment though the Headlands.
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
Tennessee Valley is the Headland's most popular
trailhead. One time I
arrived at the parking lot around 10 am on a weekday, and did a mental double
take; there were so many cars already there I thought maybe I'd missed a day
or two and it was the weekend! There is a lot of activity here; great mountain
biking on the fire roads, horses on most trails, group camping, dogwalking,
and hiking. Because of the stables located on site, you'll probably see lots of
equestrian. A few trails are designated hiking only,
but you'll be sharing the trails a good bit.
: 3.5 miles