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A Guide to Traveling to Mount Tamalpais State Park

A Guide to Traveling to Mount Tamalpais State Park

Hike up to the stunning peak of Mount Tamalpais State Park. Learn all about what the park has to offer. Team


5 min read

June 28, 2023

Nestled in Marin County, just a stone's throw north of the bustling city of San Francisco, California, you'll find the expansive and breathtaking Mount Tamalpais State Park. The park envelops an area of over 6,300 acres, boasting an extensive network of hiking trails, sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean, Bay Area skyline, and towering redwoods that draw visitors from around the world.

Dominating the landscape is the eponymous Mount Tamalpais. Towering at an elevation of 2,571 feet, the mountain is affectionately known as "Mount Tam" by locals and is a beloved natural monument in the region.

The area's human history extends back thousands of years when Coastal Miwok Native Americans first inhabited the lands. European exploration began in the 16th century, but it wasn't until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the park’s popularity soared due to the "Crookedest Railway in the World" — a scenic tourist railway that shuttled guests up to the mountaintop.

While the railway is no longer in operation, its spirit lives on in the hikers, bikers, and picnickers who make the trek up the mountain every year. In 1928, Mount Tamalpais was officially established as a state park, ensuring that its natural beauty and historic significance would be preserved for generations to come.

Being so close to San Francisco, it's relatively easy to make a day trip out of going to Mount Tamalpais State Park.

When to Visit


Springtime at Mount Tamalpais State Park is an enchanting spectacle as Mother Nature reveals a landscape blooming with vibrant wildflowers and lush greenery. The temperature is comfortably cool, ranging from mid-50s to mid-70s (in Fahrenheit), making it ideal for outdoor activities. Hiking during this season provides an excellent opportunity to capture stunning photos of the colorful flora, and birdwatchers will enjoy the park's rich avian diversity as migratory birds return to their nesting grounds.


In summer, Mount Tamalpais State Park beckons visitors with its warm weather and clear, azure skies. Temperatures can range from the mid-70s to the low 90s, making it perfect for leisurely picnics, biking, and hikes. On these bright days, the panoramic views from the mountain's summit stretch far and wide, revealing the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco skyline, and the majestic redwoods. This is also an ideal season for camping under the stars at one of the park's well-equipped campsites.


Fall brings a kaleidoscope of colors to Mount Tamalpais State Park, as the foliage transforms from lush greens to a vibrant array of reds, yellows, and oranges. The cooler temperatures, ranging from the mid-50s to the low 70s, are excellent for hiking and exploring the park. Bird enthusiasts will particularly enjoy this time of year, as various migratory species pass through the area. The crisp, autumn air paired with the rustling leaves underfoot creates a serene atmosphere that is undeniably captivating.


Winter in Mount Tamalpais State Park is a season of tranquility and calm. The fog often settles, blanketing the landscape in an ethereal mist that transforms the park into a winter wonderland. While temperatures can dip to the low 40s, the serene beauty of the fog-laden trails offers a unique hiking experience. It's a time when the park is less crowded, allowing visitors to experience a profound sense of peace and solitude. Just remember to dress warmly and be prepared for the occasional rainfall.

The peak at Mount Tamalpais State Park provides an unmatched view of the San Francisco Bay Area.

How to Get There

Reaching Mount Tamalpais State Park is straightforward. If you're coming from San Francisco, it's just a quick drive over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, then north along Highway 101. From there, you will take the exit towards CA-1 North. A winding journey on Panoramic Highway will lead you straight into the heart of the park.

Public transportation is also available via the Marin Transit Route 61, which runs on weekends and public holidays, making stops at Marin City, Tamalpais Valley, Muir Woods, and Mount Tamalpais. This service is ideal for those who prefer a more eco-friendly way to reach the park.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the gateways into this incredible state park.

Entrance Fees

The day-use fee for vehicle parking within the park is $8 per vehicle and is collected at the park entrance. However, it's important to note that California State Parks Passes are accepted here. These passes allow for unlimited day-use admission to most state parks and are a fantastic deal if you plan to visit multiple parks throughout the year.

If you are an avid hiker or biker, you will be pleased to know that there is no fee if you are entering the park on foot or bicycle. So, whether you're a casual sightseer or an outdoor enthusiast, Mount Tamalpais State Park offers something for everyone. It is a treasure trove of natural beauty waiting to be explored and appreciated, truly encapsulating the diverse wonders of California's landscape.

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Top 5 Things To Do At Mount Tamalpais State Park

1. Hiking on the Dipsea Trail

Mount Tamalpais State Park offers a multitude of trails, but the Dipsea Trail is truly unique. Starting from the town of Mill Valley and stretching out to Stinson Beach, this 7.1-mile trail is one of the oldest in the state. As you traverse its winding paths, you'll encounter a variety of terrains, from coastal forests to open ridges, each offering unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. Please remember to carry adequate water, snacks, and sun protection for this moderate to strenuous hike.

The Dispsea Trail is a worthwhile challenge to undertake when visiting Mount Tamalpais State Park.

2. Mountain Biking on Coast View Trail

If you're a mountain biking enthusiast, the Coast View Trail in Mount Tamalpais State Park is a must-visit. This 5.5-mile trail provides a thrilling ride with numerous twists and turns, all while offering expansive views of the ocean and coastal cliffs. This trail is best for experienced bikers due to its technical aspects. Don't forget your helmet!

3. Visit the East Peak Summit

A trip to the Mount Tamalpais State Park is incomplete without reaching the East Peak Summit. Accessible by a short half-mile hike from the parking lot, the summit affords panoramic views of the Bay Area, Farallon Islands, and on clear days, even the Sierra Nevada. The Visitor Center, housed in an old stone building, is also located here, offering an array of historical and educational displays about the park's natural and cultural history.

It is rewarding to finally reach the peak of Mount Tamalpais and receive a stunning view of the Bay Area.

4. Star Gazing at the Mountain Theater

The Mountain Theater, also known as the Cushing Memorial Amphitheater, is an impressive stone amphitheater offering a splendid platform for stargazing. With its high elevation and reduced light pollution, Mount Tamalpais State Park becomes a haven for astronomy enthusiasts. Regular 'Stars Over Mount Tam' interpretive programs are conducted, adding to the charm of the night sky. Be sure to bring a warm jacket as evenings can get chilly.

5. Picnicking at Bootjack Picnic Area

The Bootjack Picnic Area, surrounded by towering redwoods, is the perfect spot to relax after a day of exploring. Equipped with picnic tables, barbeque grills, and restrooms, it offers all the conveniences for a perfect family picnic. Listen to the calming sounds of the nearby Redwood Creek and immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance of the Mount Tamalpais State Park.

In conclusion, Mount Tamalpais State Park is a destination with an abundance of diverse activities. Whether you are a hiking aficionado, an avid mountain biker, a history buff, a star-gazer, or simply seeking a tranquil location for a family picnic, this park has it all. It stands as a testament to the natural beauty of California, offering visitors an unforgettable outdoor experience.

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