Breathtaking California Hikes to Jumpstart Your New Year

Marin County is a wonderland of refreshing, exhilarating hikes.

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge is an enchanting land filled with gentle rolling hills, the world’s tallest trees and dramatic shorelines. The best way to experience the many hidden gems in Marin County is to explore them by foot. Here is a list of the top five hikes that you’ll never forget. Each offers a different level of exertion and distance. We start with the easiest and work our way to the most heart-pumping, thrill-seeking hike of all.  

Looking to join a group of other hikers? Check out Point Reyes OutdoorsExtranomical AdventuresCoastal Walkers, and Evergreen Escapes. These companies organize hikes with set itineraries. 

A view from Mount Tamalpais in California

Sorich Park 

Nestled between the Sleepy Hollow divide in Terra Linda and the Mount Tamalpais Cemetery is a tranquil two-mile hike that is ideal for a town and country afternoon. Legend has it that the name "Sorich" came from the milk that was “so rich" produced by cows that grazed the 64 acres. When you visit, you can see why. This gentle hike starts with a comfortable walk through grasslands, eucalyptus woods and oak groves that leads you to a ridge where you're greeted by stunning views of the Bay including San Francisco and Mount Tamalpais. Return the same way and then stroll over to San Anselmo Avenue for some window-shopping. End your afternoon with a much-deserved decadent lunch at L'Appart Resto, a divine French Bistro at 636 San Anselmo Ave.

Location: Take San Francisco Boulevard in San Anselmo until it ends. The parking area for Sorich Park is there. 

Muir Woods

Muir Woods: Canopy View to Lost Creek to Fern Loop

Muir Woods is home to some of the tallest tress in the world and being in their presence can be a life-changing event. Especially when you think that many of these trees have been alive for more than 700 years. The hike starts with a gradual uphill walk where you enter an awe-inspiring canopy of redwood trees. At the Founder’s Grove, follow the Canopy View trailhead, take the Lost Trail turnoff and descend into the deep forest of Douglas redwoods. Turn left at the Fern Creek trail where it leads to the main Muir Woods trail. The surroundings will spark your imagination. So, make sure to look for fairies, hobbits and magical beings that dance in the cathedral-like sunrays that fall from between the redwoods. To continue the magic of the day, stop off at the Mountain Home Inn perched atop of Mill Valley, where you can stay the night or simply enjoy a feast for both your eyes and your belly. The Inn rises above the lush redwoods and offers breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay and the redwood forest below. 

Length: 3 miles

Location: Muir Woods National Monument, 1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley

Bon Tempe 

The four-mile loop around the peaceful Bon Tempe Lake guides your through wooded areas and beautiful shorelines. First, swing by Taste Kitchen and Table in Fairfax, California, and pick up a few sandwiches and snacks for a picnic by the lake. The lake is only 10-minute from downtown Fairfax. Don’t be surprise if you want to start singing “The Sound of Music” when you step out of your car. You won’t be the first. The lake and its tranquil surroundings give you the feeling that you just entered the set of a happy musical. 

Elk at Point Reyes

Point Reyes

If you love wildlife as much as hiking, then this is the hiking tour for you. It is a completely curated experience where you get to choose what you want to see and where you want to hike. Some of the favorites to find are bobcats and owls. If you are traveling with children, this is an ideal hiking experience.

Location: If you are staying in the area, they will pick you up from your hotel, if not, then you will meet at the entrance to Point Reyes National Seashore.

Palomarin to Alamere Falls

This hike is by far the piece de résistance of all local hikes. It is a lengthy 8.2 miles to Alamere Falls, but the breathtaking reward that awaits you and your sore legs is worth the distance you traveled to get there. The trail winds through lush fern groves, steep coastal tracks, and flat lakeside paths. You finally hike down a steep ravine, where you can feel the mist of the waterfall tickle your face. Once on the beach, look up and see the magnificent Alamere Falls in action. After this strenuous hike, head over to El Paseo Restaurant located at 17 Throckmorton Avenue in Mill Valley for a hearty dinner and well-deserved cocktail. 

Locations: The hike begins at the Palomarin Trailhead, about five miles north of the town of Bolinas.

Sponsor name: 
Marin County CVB