Monday, November 9, 2015

Family Friendly Hiking Near San Francisco. Tennessee Valley Beach, Golden Gate National Park, California. #CaliforniaDreaming

Tennessee Valley Beach, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California.

The highlight of Tennessee Valley is a mostly flat trail that follows the floor of a fertile valley in the Marin Headlands and ends at a small beach. It is ideal for families with smaller children looking for a safe, starter hike that is a 1.7 mile one way hike, stroll or bike to a stunning little cove with powerful wave action. 

For those looking for more vertical, offshoots from this trail lead up and into the Headlands connecting to miles and miles of terrain that take you to a multitude of locations within the Golden Gate National Park (GGNRA) and nearby Mt. Tamalpais State Park.

Tennessee Valley Beach, Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Park your car in the fairly large parking lot, get there early on weekends, and head West towards the beach. Of all places in the GGNRA, this is where you’ll be lucky enough to see lots of animals. Look for rabbits, hawks, deer, owls, lizards, wild turkeys, coyotes and bobcats. These are “regulars” and you’re almost guaranteed to see one or more of these creatures messing around in this valley’s gorgeous natural habitat.

Each season in Tennessee Valley brings a new fascinating ecological treat that is easy to witness as you hike along. Springtime has bunnies everywhere and wildflowers bursting from the lush, green valley and hillsides. In the Fall, wild turkeys flaunt their giant, bombastic plumage in the brown grasses and signs are literally posted: beware of aggressive turkeys.

There is also a little “starter” backpacking spot, just a short jaunt from the parking lot, with no running water or bathrooms, yes Porta Potties, picnic tables and bear boxes. Please check for up to date amenities.

Hike into Tennessee Valley, Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The Coast Miwok Native Americans called this valley home for a time. I would have too. And the valley was ultimately given it’s name after the steamship "S.S.Tennessee", carrying 500 passengers and 14 chests of gold, took a wrong turn and wrecked directly into the beach on a foggy, Bay Area day. Rumor has it the engine is still intact and can be seen on ultra-low tide days…

A favorite spot of mine for its teaming-with-life habitat and surprising lagoon just before the cove, come find your hike. Find your park.

--Outdoorsy Mama

Where to Explore: Tennessee Valley Beach, Golden Gate National Park, California.
Location: Just north of San Francisco, over the Golden Gate Bridge in Mill Valley, Ca.
Kid Friendly? Yes! Bring the gang.
Dog Friendly? No. Dogs not invited & rangers will ticket.
Swimming? No. Not recommended. Powerful waves.
Beach? Yes. Excellent picnic & play beach for families.
Exposure: Full sun.
Camping information: Marin Headlands Visitor Center 415-331-1540

Where to Eat: Shoreline Coffee Shop. Located in Tennessee Valley business area before the drive to the trailhead. Delicious upper-scale diner food, organic, with surprise Mexican specials. Open breakfast & lunch.

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