Marin Headlands

San Francisco, California 94157

Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes what is more commonly known as the Marin Headlands. The hills of the headlands, easily seen on the west side of Highway 101 across the bridge from the city, are home not only to the decaying battlements, but also to many trails and fire roads which meander across them and through the canyons of this public-use land. Long a favorite of San Francisco hikers and equestrians, the Marin Headlands has more recently become a play area for the many mountain bike enthusiasts of the Bay Area. The trails are wide, generally smooth, and not terribly steep. There are four distinct climbs along the route however, and that is what makes the ride somewhat strenuous."

More Marin Headlands Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Bike Rides San Francisco (Falcon Guides)
Wayne Cottrell
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"The Marin Headlands Excursion covers portions of an extremely popular road cycling route in southern Marin County. So popular, in fact, that multiple Tour de France (and Giro d’Italia) winner Alberto Contador was spotted along this route in late 2010. The real draw may be the Golden Gate Bridge—riding across is an attraction. While nearly everyone parked here will be hiking, running, mountain biking, or even horseback riding onto the GGNRA trails, you will be the oddball by heading in the opposite direction, on Tennessee Valley Road. At the end of the road, after a few undulations and exciting curves, turn right onto SR 1."
One Night Wilderness: San Francisco (Wilderness Press)
Matt Heid
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"Less than a mile from the trailhead, at the end of a lightly traveled spur trail, in a world secluded from everything, Haypress Camp is as close and easy as it gets. Add 3 miles of dayhiking to explore Tennessee Valley and its isolated beach at the base of 400-foot-high cliffs, and you have an outstanding adventure ideal for families and young first-time backpackers."
Best Hikes with Kids: San Francisco Bay Area (The Mountaineers Books)
Laure Latham
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"Ridgetop trails with coastal views"
Bay Area Ridge Trail: The Official Guide for Hikers, Mountain Bikers and Equestrians (Wilderness Press)
Jean Rusmore
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"This dramatic trip takes you from the landmark Golden Gate Bridge into the hills of the Marin Headlands—you climb through open grassland and coastal chaparral to the ridge above Sausalito and descend into the wide ravine of Tennessee Valley. You’ll have spectacular views of San Francisco Bay, the Marin Headlands, and the Pacific Ocean. On narrow paths and wide service roads, you’ll climb and descend 600 feet; come prepared for wind and fog."
Mountain Bike! San Francisco and the Bay Area (Menasha Ridge Press)
Skye Craft
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"The shorter and more scenic northwest loop through the very scenic headlands, this book’s second headlands ride takes you near Tennessee Beach, which functions as a sort of Stinson Beach overflow option for locals and clued-in (or time-strapped) tourists. The sight lines from the Green Gulch lookout point are unrivaled in the area . . . or are they? It’s up to you to decide. The ride includes fire-road climbing with a snappy singletrack descent to finish the loop."

Marin Headlands Trip Reports

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If you like to climb, enjoy awe inspiring views of the SF bay environs, and love long fast descents then this is the ride for you. My group did the ride differently than the guide. Our starting point was Crissy Field in SF, then over the Golden Gait bridge, followed by a climb up Conzelman Road and then we jumped onto the Coastal Trail to descend (whee!) to Bunker Road. We crossed Bunker Rd and rode the single track to the foot of the Miwok trail. A long climb up Miwok led us to the Old Springs Trail which is a single track descent to a stables a the bottom. From there we climbed up Marincello tr. to its junction with Bobcat tr. We descended - fast - the Bobcat and at the bottom retraced our route back up the Coastal tr, to Conzelman, the GG bridge ending in Crissy Field. The weather was perfect, the visibility unlimited, and the ride challenging. Not for beginners due to the climbs, this is not a technical ride. A hardtail MTB works fine. We logged 25 miles and about 2800 feet of climbing. And chased it down with Anchor Steam beer in SF.

Marin Headlands Photos

Trail Information

San Francisco
Nearby City
2,800 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
3-4 hours
220 feet
Trailhead Elevation
860 feet
Top Elevation

Trail Log