San Francisco: North

Mount Tamalpais State Park

Creative Commons: Joe Matazzoni

Just north of San Francisco is Mount Tam, a popular and fantastically scenic spot, with loads of options for trail running. From its 2,571 peak there are incredible panoramas of the Marin County Hills, the Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco Bay. Some 60 miles of trails pass through terrain including deep canyons, redwood forests, oak woodlands, open grasslands, and sturdy chaparral. These trails connect to an even larger trail system in Marin Counrty, plus a huge network of adjacent parks and preserves.

View from Dipsea Trail. Wikimedia Commons

So, where to run? There are trails here for every ability, with footing ranging from wide open fire roads to more rugged trails. If you want to run to the summit, there’s no way of avoiding elevation, but there are some switchback-ey fire roads that make the ascent more gradual. For those looking for a more level hike with great views following the ridgeline (still hilly!), we recommend combining the Deer Park Fire Road/Matt Davis Trail/Bolinas Ridge Trail from Muir Woods north toward Stinson Beach. A few other recommendations:

Dias Trail. Start at Pelican Inn at Muir Beach in Marin and head up the chaparral-covered Dias Ridge. Great panoramas. 5 miles, elevation gain 700 feet.

Panoramic Trail. Enjoy sections of this trail, featuring great views.

Laurel Dell Rd. From the Quarry Parking Lot, a short climb up Lagunitas-Rock Springs Rd., then a somewhat flatter section along Laura Dell Rd. headed north to the intersection with the Cataract Trail (~2.5 miles one-way).

For the most part, these are trails on the southern side of the park, from the beach to the summit. There’s a huge network of trails on the north side, connecting to many other trails and fire roads in parks and preserves in Mill Valley (see our routes there).







  • Numerous parking areas and trailheads. Public transport using West Marin Stage Coach

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  • Numerous parking areas and trailheads. Public transport using West Marin Stage Coach