5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
This out and back hike links two of the best beaches in the Marin Headlands, and all of the green rolling hills in between.
You’ll enjoy views along the craggy coast, over the boundless ocean, and to Mount Tamalpais—all on a clear day, that is.
This shoreline is often foggy, but even without the views, this hike is worthwhile—the fog adds a mystique to your perception of the landscape. No matter the visibility, you can still enjoy the up-close scenery.
The trail traverses above sea cliffs in places, where you can stare down at crashing waves.
Abandoned bunkers from past wars dot the hillsides.
You’ll pass through various plant communities including coastal scrub, grassland, and chaparral—each with their own textures, colors, and resident wildlife.
Wildflowers pop out in spring and summer.
Birds flutter between bushes, and you may spot deer or coyotes near the trail. From Rodeo Beach, the trail starts its biggest single climb right away.
A dirt path takes wide switchbacks toward the crest of Wolf Ridge and meets the paved portion of the Coastal Trail, which it follows only shortly before taking a tall set of stairs straight up the slope.
At the top of this hill is a large fortification complex that you can explore with a short detour.
From there, the dirt path rejoins the paved path to contour towards the crest of the ridge.
A short side trip to the top of Hill 88 reveals a glimpse of the Golden Gate and the city skyline.
To continue toward Muir Beach, follow the Coastal Trail down the other side of the ridge, where it becomes a narrow path through head-high chaparral. At the bottom of this hill is Tennessee Valley, and the option for a side trip to Tennessee Beach, a sandy cove popular as a hiking destination of its own.
Next, Coastal Trail goes up once more to begin a scenic traverse of rolling, rocky hillsides.
A somewhat adventurous side trip here is the rocky scramble down to Pirates Cove: a truly isolated little beach beneath the sea cliffs. Finally, after a steady ascent on a panoramic ridgeline, the trail finds Muir Beach.
This is a picturesque pocket of sand with gentle surf next to a quiet neighborhood.
Relax with the locals while you recoup your energy for the journey back. Sources: https://carfreeoutdoors.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/rodeo-beach-to-tennessee-beach/ https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/upload/map_MAHE_150429web.pdf