Tuesday, April 5, 2016

4 Ways to Hike Mt Tamalpais Near San Francisco, California

Mt Tamalpais, California

Hike it, bike it, sled on a cardboard box on the top of it with your kiddo during a rare, snowy day. As I type, you can trek through its brilliant, spring, poppy super-bloom RIGHT NOW and, on many days, gaze at the thick layer of fog covering everything below as you stand on it's towering summit.

Mt Tamalpais, affectionately known at “Mt Tam”, is a beloved landmark in the San Francisco Bay Area just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Soaring 2,574’ above both the Pacific Ocean to the west and the world famous San Francisco Bay to the south and east, Mt Tam is a majestic reminder of the power of two tectonic plates colliding and lifting the earth towards the sky.

The Coastal Miwok, who originally lived in the area, had such a strong relationship with the mountain that they spread a story of an evil witch who lived at the summit to scare away the settlers from exploring their beloved and sacred mountain. Alas, to no avail, settlers also loved Mt Tam and later built a railway that carted countless, eager, adventure seekers to the summit from 1896-1930.

Today, the train is history, and we hike and bike and run those trails – over 100 miles of them – which include a National Monument, a State Park, a watershed, a National Park…. Need I go on? The mountain is a star. A member of the family. A symbol of brilliant conservation and cooperation between agencies and the people who love the land.

So, ready to get out there? 

4 ways to enjoy the trails on Mt Tam:

1 - Private Guided Tours - Tam Hiking Tours

Deb from Tam Hiking Tours, in orange,  with our group at the lookout near the historic West Point Inn on Mt Tam.
Run by the dynamo Deb Schwartz, Deb will work with any group size and level of hiking adventure and tailor a tour to make it exactly what you were dreaming about last night. The big bonus is you get her brilliant wealth of knowledge about the history, geology, plant and wildlife on Mt Tam as she grew up running around on the trails. She’s a pro and just a joy to get to spend time with.

2 - Scheduled Group Tours – Friends of Mt Tam

Gathering for the wildflower hike with Friends of Mt Tam.


For a chance to bond with other like minded nature-lovers while guided by enthusiastic volunteers, Friends of Mt Tam offers a variety of weekly tours at regularly scheduled times. This group was formed specifically to care for the state park and to educate visitors about Mt Tam. They’re our heroes. Be sure to check out their wildflower tour – it’s a stunner.

3 - "Meet-Up" Groups

MJ, Lead Organizer of the Meet-Up group California Backpacking Club, tears it straight up to the summit.
The “Meet-Up” app is on fire with dozens of groups that have Mt Tam as one of their highlighted destinations. I joined MJ, the lead organizer of the Meet-Up "California Backing Club" and we kicked some mountain-butt to the top of Mt Tam. Straight up and straight down. Other groups will highlight speed-hiking, distance-hiking, wine tasting, pot-lucks and other activities along with their hikes. This is a great way to spend the day with people who enjoy similar adventurous outdoor activities on the mountain.

4 - Self-Guided -- Mt Tamalpais State Park

Getting out for our own self-guided hike through fields of poppies on Mt Tamalpais. 

And then, of course, you can just grab your hiking boots and a map and head out on the trails all on your own. With a well marked trail system, you can find yourself deep in the redwood grove of Muir Woods National Monument, soaring up high on the rocky, exposed summit, or meandering along the trails that rise and fall gently along the coastal slopes.

However you choose to explore Mt Tam, prepare to be blow-away.

I left my heart on Mt Tamalpais.

-Annie @OutdoorsyMama


For more hikes click here: Bay Area Hikes & San Francisco

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