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Plank Walk Trail

Bay Area

Marin County

Short hike to the panoramic summit of Mount Tamalpais.

Hiking Moderate

866 m
61 m
61 m
0-1 hrs
Low Point
716 m
High Point
777 m
Plank Walk Trail Map

This short but somewhat steep loop leads from the state park visitor center to the top of Mount Tam’s East Peak. Along the trail you will get great views in all directions around the mountain. The trail is named for the boardwalk at its beginning, but this soon leads to a regular dirt and rock path that ascends more steeply.


This trail is a great tour of the mountain’s ecology and geology, even on a foggy or hazy day when views are limited. The vegetation type is chaparral, dominated by hardy shrubs like manzanita and sturdy trees like madrone and oak. In spring you’ll see wildflowers like the blue lupines and yellow monkey flowers. You’ll notice many rocks along the trail are greenish in color, meaning they contain serpentine, a certain kind of metamorphic rock. The unique configuration of serpentine that occurs on Tamalpais is the state rock of California.

On a clear day, views stretch over green rolling hills all around, blue reservoirs to the northwest, the Pacific Ocean to the south, San Francisco Bay, and the city skyline to the east. The trail leads to the mountain’s summit, where a historic fire lookout stands. The tower is still staffed in order to spot fires and is not open to the public, but you’ll get quite a commanding view from its base.

Sources: http://www.friendsofmttam.org/wp-content/uploads/Plank-Walk-Brochure2015-05-01.pdf http://www.friendsofmttam.org/park/facts.html https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/471/files/MountTamalpaisSPFinalWebLayout110816.pdf



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.


1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly

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Guidebooks in this area