Mount Tam HikesLast Update: July 18, 2009
Mount Tam is a wonderful place for hiking - beautiful views of the ocean, bay area, san francisco, as well as waterfalls, redwood groves, and west point inn where you can "donate $1" for lemonade or take a sleeping bag and stay the night. For a full list of opportunities, please get a book and a map. There are so many trails and trailheads, we simply can't describe them all. For this reason, we'll focus on a few favorite hikes of ours.
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Note: times are approximate. Time to trailhead assumes that the starting point is near Coddingtown Mall in Santa Rosa. (our main carpool meeting spot).
Directions to trailhead:
From Santa Rosa: Read and print the driving map, as the directions are complex. In general, you'll take 101 south past Mill valley. Once you cross the bridge, take the exit for Stinson beach. Follow the signs towards Stinson Beach. For the 1-way hike, park 1 car in the parking lot across from Mountain Home Inn. Continue towards Stinson UNTIL you see signs for Mt. Tam. (this will be a quick right turn just after you pass the bootjack trailhead). Keep to the left when you reach the rock springs trailhead. Park when you reach the junction with the fairfax-bolinas road.
Picture: This picture shows the coastal trail sign at your starting point. Don't worry, you'll leave for another trail and not go to stinson beach.
This is one of Rob's favorite hikes; we try to do it on a yearly basis.
|Setup||Duration: 1:45||Plan your carpool carefully!
Drive south on 101 to the Stinson beach exit, just south of the bridge south of Mill Valley. Take the appropriate roads towards Stinson, then towards mt. tam to reach mountain home inn. The endpoint is the trailhead parking lot just across the street. Have all cars meet in the parking lot. Park 1 and move the people to the other cars. Continue to the starting trailhead at the junction of ridgecrest and bolinas-fairfax roads. This is the starting location.
Consider total time to be 2hours from when you first meet in Coddingtown, figure out carpooling, drop off a car, introduce the hike, then start hiking. Whew!
|Coastal Trail||Duration: 1:30
El. Gain: 939ft
El. Loss: 473ft
Follow the trail south through huckleberry bushes and mixed redwoods to
exposed hillsides with awesome views of Stinson beach and the pacific
ocean. Ignore trails leading downhill to your right. (un-named and
McKennan trails) Stop when you see a dirt road on your left head sharply
uphill towards the road. Go left. The same dirt road (called Willow
Camp) also heads down to the ocean on your right.
In August, you can often pick and eat small huckleberries. They're dark blue, like small blue berries and very tasty. In the spring, look for huge patches of wild irises in the canyons leading down to the ocean. (often near trees) Hang gliders can be seen year round.
|Cataract Trail||Duration: 45 minutes
El. Gain: 241ft
El. Loss: 180ft
|Climb the willow camp dirt road to the main ridgecrest
car road. Cross it, descend the other side. You will leave this trail
very soon and turn right on the cataract trail heading south-east.
Follow this trail to the Rock Springs trailhead. Anyone who wanted to do
a shorter hike can leave from this point. (provided they left their car
here) There is a porta-potty here.
You'll follow a creak through a pine forest. There are no sweeping views, although springtime often shows wild foxglove. It's shaded and a fun change from the exposed coastal trail on hot days.
|Misc||Duration: 10 minutes
El. Gain: 57ft
El. Loss: 48ft
|Turn left/east along the paved road from Rock Springs,
and immediately take the dirt trail to your right. Keep to the left, and
follow the signs to the amphitheater for lunch. There is a water
fountain and a porta-potty here. We recommend eating lunch on the steps
of the theater and enjoying the views of the bay area.
This segment shows views of the bay area and part of San Francisco. It is stunning, and you'll see more of it later.
|Rock Spring Trail||Duration: 1 hour
Lunch: 1 hour
El. Gain: none
El. Loss: 305ft
|Cross the amphitheater, and on the far (north/east) side
in the middle is the trail you want. Follow it to west point inn. At the
Inn, we recommend taking a short 15 minute break to enjoy the views and
to donate by buying lemonade or a cookie. They also sell the best trail
map of Mt. Tam that I've found so far.
This trail is mostly exposed, with lots of scrub bushes and absolutely breathtaking views of the whole bay area and San Francisco.
|Nora and Matt Davis Trails||Duration: 40 minutes
Inn Break: 15 minutes
El. Gain: 90ft
El. Loss: 842ft
|Several trails leave Mt. Home Inn, make sure you're on
the right one. Head down towards the bay and start on the Nora trail.
Nora runs into the Matt Davis Trail. Continue straight, and do not turn
right nor cross the bridge. At the second trail junction for Hoo-Koo-E-Koo
trail, the sign is a bit confusing. Continue straight, heading downhill,
toward mt. home inn, do not go left. You'll pass the fire station and
reach the main highway. Walk a little bit south to Mt. Home Inn.
This trail forgoes views for hiking through redwood groves along rushing streams. It's a hidden gem and very pretty.
|Shuttle the cars||Duration: 40 minutes||Ok, it's car shuttle time! Have all drivers pile into
the car you left at this end point, and drive back to the start. Have
everyone continue back to Mtn. Home Inn and pick up their people. We
usually split into dinner or non-dinner groups at this point.
While everyone else waits for the cars to return, I highly recommend going into Mtn. Home Inn, buying a beverage, and sitting on their deck admiring the views of the bay.
|Drive to Dinner||Duration: 30 minutes
Dinner: ~1 hour
|Retrace your route back to hwy 101. Head north, and cross the bridge. Stay in the right lane, as you'll take seminar drive. Exit the freeway, turn right, go under the freeway, then follow the road north and look for Travelodge with the India Palace restaurant. Yumm!|
|Drive Home||Duration: 0:45||It takes ~45 minutes to return home from dinner.|
|Total||Duration: ~ (+2 hr)
El. Gain: 1262ft
El. Loss: 1771ft
|We did the full hike and dinner starting at 10am in Coddingtown and we returned to Coddingtown ~8:15pm.|
|2007, Aug 25
|Overview: Today was a near perfect day. We
started off in deep fog. It lifted 1/2 way, enough to see Stinson beach,
then completely burned off in time for lunch. We saw a hang glider, and
ate huckleberries at the very beginning.
Special Notes: There are many roads leading to the starting point; Rob has a photocopied map with the route highlighted. Likewise, we jump from trail to trail frequently. Pay special attention to make sure no one gets lost, make sure everyone waits at each trail junction for the rest of the group. 2-way radios are helpful for fast/slow groups. The leader MUST have a driving map of mt. Tam and a hiking map if they're doing it for the first time. If you start late and eat dinner, some people will get too hungry before the lunch spot. (allow them to stop and snarf down some food quickly before they get too hungry) Encourage people to bring 1/2 size lunches to stay hungry for dinner, otherwise people get too full.
Timings: We met at Coddingtown at 10am, but left at 10:15 since a few showed up late, and we needed to review the driving directions and explain the carpool carefully. 8 people left, taking 3 cars, so when we dropped one off, we had 4 people per car. This worked well, as we met another group of 2 at the trailhead, meaning our final car had to hold 4 people to return the 3 drivers to their cars. We reached the starting point about 11:50, did our intros and started hiking at noon. In 10 minutes we found the huckleberry patch. At 1:30 we crossed the road to the cataract trail. At 2:13 we reached Rock Springs trailhead, and at 2:20 reached the amphitheater for lunch. We started hiking again at 3pm, and reached west point in at 4pm. We stopped here for 20 minutes and had a long conversation with some local experts. We stopped at mtn home inn a little before 5pm. The drivers returned with the cars ~5:40. We lost 1 car, as she got lost and went to fairfax. It's a good idea for all cars to wait for everyone to return to avoid stranding people. We got back to Coddingtown about 8:15, but this was late as we waited for ~40 minutes for the lost driver. I didn't time how long it took to the restaurant, to eat, or for the drive back home. Next time!
Team: 10 people signed up, 2 met us at the trailhead. Everyone did dinner and the full hike. One person wanted the short hike, but dropped out since they didn't want to drive and no one else was doing the short hike. The group got along really well!
|2002, Sept 28
|Sorry, we didn't keep any notes. Pictures not taken for 2004, 2003 and 2001 hikes.|
|2000, July 01
|Sorry, we didn't keep any notes.|
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