Whereas most of us spent the pandemic rewatching Breaking Dangerous and futzing with sourdough starter, Jennifer and Brent Lauchle hiked each path on Mount Tam.
Formally named Mount Tamalpais however at all times referred to as “Mount Tam” or simply “Tam” by locals, the height has beckoned individuals to its slopes for hundreds of years. The primary path map of the mountain was printed in 1898 and it turned a state park in 1928. However the Coast Miwok, Spanish explorers, loggers and adventurers arrived lengthy earlier than.
The hunt to sort out Tam started after the Marin County couple took a June 2020 journey to Yosemite with their teenage sons. The household made an effort to hike all the most well-liked trails within the valley—then arrived residence realizing there was a mountain exterior their entrance door ready to be conquered. And what higher solution to reap the benefits of a pandemic lockdown than getting out on the paths?
“My cousin had given us the e-book Tamalpais Trails by Barry Spitz, and it impressed us to make a objective to hike each path on the mountain,” mentioned Jennifer, an oncologist and scientist by day, who initially started her treks as a part of a fundraiser for Ladies’s Most cancers Analysis Heart in Berkeley. “With all of the unhealthy information on the time, we had been on the lookout for the ‘really feel good’—and climbing felt good.”
The couple first set out on walks from their residence on the japanese aspect of Tam and shortly racked up 13-14 miles over a 6-7 hour hike. They quickly started to pack daypacks and drive to trailheads throughout the mountain—as a result of though the mountain is shut by, its more durable treks nonetheless require gear to make it safely via the wilderness, together with waterproof climbing boots, snacks and loads of water.)
Brent would plot a course for every week’s massive hike, usually stitching collectively trails to make sure they lined sufficient floor. After the hike was carried out, he highlighted it in yellow on their map. The Covid work-from-home insurance policies enacted by each of their employers made it simpler to rise up on the mountain for fast runs to paint in paths not tackled on larger outings.
“Previous to the pandemic, we’d at all times do the identical hikes on Tam,” mentioned Brent Lauchle, a monetary govt. “The objective of overlaying all the paths on the mountain pushed us to do completely different routes—and we made a dedication to go rain or shine.”
One wet hike helped the Lauchles discover a number of orange-bellied newts, critters not usually out throughout dry climate. Newts apart, they noticed bobcats, deer and plenty of chicken species, together with big Woody Woodpecker-looking woodpeckers.
“Mountaineering all of it allows you to see the variety of the environments and the seasons on the mountain,” Brent mentioned. “The environments are usually not as comparable as you may suppose—there’s redwoods, cypress, rocks, lakes and fields of wildflowers—and there are such a lot of microclimates that transfer from fog to solar on a single hike.”
The pair bumped into bother on a number of of the map’s extra obscure trails; after spending a few completely different instances scrambling over boulders or descending extraordinarily steep spots, they labored laborious to get the newest path information earlier than setting out, utilizing the Komoot and AllTrails apps.
It took about 6-9 months for the Lauchles to paint in all of the hikes on the Tamalpais Trails’ map. They estimate it took them about 40-45 days of climbing 8-12 miles to achieve their objective—not straightforward, to make certain, however not unattainable for the legions of Tam lovers across the Bay Space.
“After all of the miles we lined everywhere in the mountain, we by no means completed a hike with out taking a photograph,” Jennifer mentioned, whether or not it was of a view of the town or a blooming calla lily or the fog sitting on a bluff. And there have been only a few hikes the place the Lauchles got here residence and resolved to “by no means do this one” once more.
“Mount Tam is only a outstanding place,” mentioned Jennifer.
How To Hike the ten Finest Trails on Mount Tamalpais
Convincing the Lauchles to provide this record of their favourite Mount Tam hikes was not straightforward. Every route they trekked had one thing distinctive to supply, be it a view, a physique of water, a picnic spot or entry to nice post-trail tacos (Exhibit A: Joe’s in Mill Valley).
Translation? Decide a Tam hike; you may’t lose.
However after reviewing their picks, two takeaways emerge: First, the most well-liked hikes are well-liked for a motive: They’re superior. Merely begin your hike early if you wish to keep away from the crowds.
And second, many of those blockbuster hikes are on the southern aspect of the mountain, offering quick access from each the town and Freeway 101.
However on a mountain riddled with trails, it’s straightforward to mix, loop or spur on any of those paths to make them your personal. In actual fact, Mates of Mount Tam created a Pantoll Quad Problem to get your inventive juices flowing: 4 hikes that loop from the car parking zone and canopy 21 miles and 4,300 toes of elevation.
One final professional tip? Don’t neglect $8 money for parking at state park trailheads.
Take a look at the record under for the Lauchles’ picks of essentially the most extraordinary day hikes on Mount Tamalpais. End all of them, and also you, too, will likely be in your solution to conquering the Bay Space’s hottest climbing mountain.
Locals’ Favourite Hikes on Mount Tamalpais
4 miles out and again | 2.5 hours | Reasonably difficult
Volumes have been written about Tam’s hottest path: Steep Ravine. The beautiful route begins on the Pantoll Ranger Station (convey $8 money for parking) and descends 4 miles to the Stinson Tree and its lookout over the seashore. The route simply reopened in April following repairs wanted due to winter storm injury, together with rebuilding its famed ladders that transfer hikers alongside the creek and thru the fern canyons. Want extra of a problem? Mix Steep Ravine in a loop with the Matt Davis and the Dipsea trails (under).
9.7 miles out and again| 6 hours | Difficult
The Dipsea traverses the same descent to Steep Ravine and is equally some of the well-liked trails within the Bay Space if not the state. However this path made well-known by the Dipsea Race begins on the japanese aspect of Mount Tam in Mill Valley, ascends its notorious stairs to the ridgetop earlier than descending to the sands of Stinson Seashore: That interprets to 2,700 toes of elevation acquire if you happen to do it out and again (!). Many hikers plan to cease once they get to Stinson after traversing a number of microclimates alongside the best way and passing canyons of inexperienced moss, redwood thickets and plenty of water. Take the bus again to Mill Valley or have a buddy (or teenage son) choose you up in Stinson after rewarding your self with lunch on the Parkside.
Diving into grove after grove of redwoods and a few of the deepest forest on the mountain, the steep up-and-down of the Ben Johnson path is formally a 1.3-mile path that begins within the Muir Woods parking space. However most hikers join Ben Johnson with Dipsea or one other hike on the south aspect of Tam.
4 miles | 2.5 hours | Reasonably difficult
Locals by no means have to order parking at Muir Woods. They merely park at Pantoll and comply with the spectacular Boot Jack Path on the ridge above the park, dropping in as desired to see its historical redwoods and throngs of vacationers. (Technically, even if you happen to skip the parking reservations, hikers ought to nonetheless pay the nationwide park entrance payment.) It’s one other Tam path with appreciable elevation change to maintain the hardcore hikers blissful.
O’Rourke’s Bench Loop
1 mile | half-hour | Reasonably difficult
Park on the Rock Spring or Trojan Level parking space and traverse the hillside to this epic swing and bench with large, beautiful vistas over the Pacific.
3.4 miles out and again | 2 hours | Reasonably difficult
This pretty, quick path provides drop-dead views of the bay and the town and a shady journey with some first rate elevation because it strikes from Mountain Residence Inn to the West Level Inn. The journey leaves you poised for a snack break at West Level Inn’s picnic tables and a lunch or dinner on the deck of Mountain Residence Inn.
Phoenix Lake and Yolanda Path Loop
4.7 miles | 2 hours | Reasonably difficult
Drive via the tony enclave of Ross and up alongside a creek to the trailhead and also you is likely to be tempted to cease on this verdant canyon earlier than you begin climbing. However a fast stroll as much as the shores of picturesque Phoenix Lake is only a begin to one more beautiful path on the mountain. A fairly robust climb up the beautiful Yolanda Path peaks on the high of Bald Hill, providing views of wildflowers and the highest of Tam.
4 miles | 1.5 hours | Straightforward
This straightforward loop round picturesque Bon Tempe shares views of each people and shore birds fishing—and one of many county’s tough-to-find bald eagles has been seen overhead too. This route could be mixed with the Sunny Aspect Path to double the size and triple the issue. The reservoir supplies consuming water to Marin County so shopping for an annual parking cross for the Marin Municipal Water District lands could be handy if you happen to love the lakeside trails on this space.
Baltimore Canyon Loop to Daybreak Falls
2 miles out and again | 1 hour | Straightforward
In search of a simple one which packs a visible punch? Head out from Downtown Larkspur on the Daybreak Falls Path. Parking is hard in Baltimore Canyon close to the trailhead however seize a spot out on Magnolia Avenue and add a ways to the flat creekside stroll previous redwoods, bays and madrone all the best way again to the waterfall that runs in winter. Straightforward to mix this stroll with Daybreak Falls Loop for an extended, more durable stroll.
6.4 miles a technique | Reasonably troublesome
Marin teenagers spend many a golden hour watching sundown from “Bo Ridge.” The children drive there by way of the north aspect of Mount Tam on the Fairfax-Bolinas Street. Hikers can begin there or on the Pantoll Ranger Station on the south. Stroll out and again so far as desired, with grassy hills, shady woods and continuous ocean views all the best way.