If you want a break from the hustle and bustle, we have insider tips on the best hikes in Marin County with breathtaking views of the city and the dozens of hiking trails that get you there. While the list of hikes in Marin has virtually no end, we’ve rounded up our top three picks based on insider tips. Grab those hiking boots!
#1 Cataract Trail Loop on Mount Tamalpais
Length: 7.7 miles / 12.4 km
Duration: Half day
Mount Tamalpais State Park is the symbolic peak at the heart of Marin County and a beautiful change of scenery from the city to the woods. The loop offers panoramic views of the entire bay stretching to the Pacific Ocean. The most popular attraction is Cataract Falls; however, popularity comes with little secrecy, making the trail relatively packed during summer months. Our tip, and the best way to avoid crowds and ensure you can find a parking spot is to go on a weekday.
Click here for more tips and directions to the trail head.
#2 Angel Island Perimeter Fire Road
Length: 4.7 miles
Duration: Half day
If you’re looking for a more leisurely hike without skimping on the 360 degree view of the bay, Angel Island is your best bet. This loop is more than just a hike, you will encounter historic sites, beaches and picnic spots so pack some snacks and enjoy the view. Our insider tips are to A) check the weather. San Francisco Bay, especially at sea level, is prone to fog which would inhibit visibility of the main attraction! B) Check the Angel Island Ferry Schedule and plan your day ahead of time and don’t get stuck on the island overnight! Fun fact: you can take your bike to Angel via the ferry.
#3 Point Bonita Marin Headlands
Length: 4.1 miles / 6.6 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
When you see pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge with downtown San Francisco in the
background odds are they were probably taken in the Marin Headlands. The headlands offer
many long and short loops and trails, but this short hike leads to a beautiful historical sight
and a local favorite vista point. Point Bonita Lighthouse is a fully operational lighthouse with
fascinating history to be learned and experienced at the site. Don’t let the short distance lead you to believe this will be a boring walk; the hike is steep at points and requires crossing 2 suspension bridges. Insider tip: the tunnel to the lighthouse is open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm, so plan accordingly so you don’t miss out on the beautiful
After you experience the local nature and vistas Marin has to offer, enjoy brunch (weekends) lunch or dinner at Balboa Cafe Mill Valley, a local favorite in historic Mill Valley. The restaurant is a short 10-to-15 minute drive from all of the hikes listed above!
Chef Howard Ko places an emphasis on sourcing the best ingredients from local farms and purveyors for his classic bistro menu with a modern twist. Your nature experience doesn’t have to end with the hike; alfresco dining is available during the summer months! A day trip to Marin is a must during your visit to San Francisco for a local experience full of beautiful hikes and delicious cuisine.