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Marin Headlands Loop
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Hiking Marin: 133 Great Hikes in Marin County
Golden Gate Trailblazer: Where to Hike, Stroll, Bike, Jog, Roll in San Francisco and Marin
Mountain Biking Marin: 40 Great Rides in Marin County
Nearby Campgrounds
Angel Island State Park 4 miles
Mt. Tamalpais State Park 6 miles
China Camp State Park 11 miles
Samuel P. Taylor State Park 17 miles
Coyote Point 20 miles

Trail Journals

Marin Headlands Loop

Pages:   Introduction   1   2
Pirates Cove and Back Across Tennessee Valley Map: Muir Beach and Tennessee Valley
View of the Ocean
View of the Ocean
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Tennessee Lagoon
Tennessee Lagoon
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The Pirates Cove Trail runs along the side of the hill with the ocean directly below. There are great ocean views along the entire length of this trail with lots of rocks jutting out of the ocean. The trail meanders in and out of ravines with one of them going fairly deep into the hillside. At the other end of the Pirates Cove Trail is the great staircase. You might want to stop and rest beneath the staircase because it seems to go on forever.

Once you reach the top of the stairs the trail continues to climb, though not quite so steeply, and passes another junction. Turning left here will take you back to Coyote Ridge. Instead of turning we will continue going straight and soon begin our descent back down into Tennessee Valley. This trail gets fairly steep and the ground can be a little slippery so you might not want to go too fast. During the descent you get views of the lagoon below and you can also see the path we will be taking across Tennessee Valley.

Almost as soon as you return to the Tennessee Valley trail, which is more of a dirt road, you will follow a path across the valley. This is the Coastal Trail and is a pretty rugged and steep trail. This is probably the hardest part of the hike because of the steepness and ruggedness of the trail and because it comes towards the end of the hike. Once across the valley the trail turns left and goes back a little ways towards the stables and begins to climb as it wraps back around the hill and comes up onto a lookout spot. This spot is a good place to take a well deserved rest and on a clear day it offers views of Tennessee Valley and Tennessee Beach. The trail immediately resumes its climb. One nice thing about this trail on foggy or cloudy days is that you can watch the clouds cross over the top of the ridge.

To Fort Cronkhite and Rodeo Beach Map: Rodeo Valley and Fort Cronkhite
Coastal Trail and Tennessee Valley
Coastal Trail and Tennessee Valley
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At the top of this trail you will climb about 5 feet or so up to a paved road. If you choose to continue along this trail it will take you back to the Miwok Trail just before the Old Springs Trail junction. Once on the paved road you can turn left and climb to the top of Hill 88 where you will find the remains of a military radar station. Turning right on the road we descend to Fort Cronkhite. This road has grass and other plant life growing from thousands of cracks. In some places the road is completely washed out and detour paths are marked. These paths often consist of wooden stairs with pipe railings.

Along the final stretch of road you will pass by a number of old military gun positions. Some of them are gated shut but some of them are not. Walking though the hill to the other side offers a cannons eye view of the ocean. Finally you reach the parking lot at Fort Cronkhite and Rodeo Beach. From here you can wait for the 76 bus back to San Francisco (Sundays and holidays only). If you parked at the trailhead you can follow the road back along the lagoon. At the back of the lagoon and across the street, you can return to the Miwok trail. It will pass behind a small hill that stands between you and the road. Just as it begins its ascent you will backtrack to the Bobcat Trail and return to the trailhead parking lot.


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