12 Ways To Enjoy Mount Tamalpais State Park

Susan Blick

Mount Tamalpais — or Mt. Tam — is a much-loved recreation spot located right outside of San Francisco. Heading North on the Golden Gate Bridge and continuing on to the Panoramic Highway will take you to the beautiful Mount Tamalpais State Park in about an hour. At 2,574 feet, the summit of Mt. Tam is the highest peak in Marin County and can be seen from spots all over the Bay Area. Keep reading for some of the best things to see and do on this awesome natural wonder.

Paraglide from Mt. Tam’s Peaks

For one of the most exciting ways to see Mt. Tam, try paragliding for some high-flying fun. Lessons and advice can be found at Bay Area Paragliding schools, such as FlyZephyr, and at Airtime of San Francisco.

1. Run the Walt Stack Double Dipsea race


Run the Walt Stack Double Dipsea race

The Double Dipsea, a challenging trail race that is filled with hills and stairs, was designed by Dolphin South End Runners founder Walt Stack. Runners begin at Stinson Beach and traverse 13.7 miles of scenic trails through the Mt. Tam State Park.

© Kamil Porembinski/Flickr

If you’re looking for a more relaxing way to experience this area, get your hands on Harold Gilliam’s essay ‘A Mount for All Seasons’ in his book The San Francisco Experience, or Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums. Both these texts depict the splendor of Mt. Tam and will encourage you to take a trip up the mountain.

Take a Hike

With miles and miles of scenic trails sprawled across the Mt. Tam State Park, you’ll never be in search of a good trail for long. Don’t know where to start? Check out Friends of Mt. Tam’s hiking guide.

Pitch a Tent at One of Its Great Campsites

From the popular Pantoll Campground to coastal sites at Steep Ravine Cabins and Campground, Mt. Tam’s campgrounds are sure to sweep you off your feet. Head over to HipCamp to pick a campground and book your stay!

Watch the Sunrise from the Top of Mt. Tam

Considered one of the Bay’s top bucket list items, watching a sunrise from the top of Mt. Tam is a must for any Bay Area visitor. Although you’ll have to wake up around 5:30-6am in order to catch the first morning glow, it is well worth leaving the comfort of your bed (or tent).

Try Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam-inspired Cheese

Based in Point Reyes Station, Cowgirl Creamery has become extremely popular in the Bay Area and makes over 200 types of artisan cheeses. Many of its cheeses are inspired by local Bay Area locations, as is the case with Cowgirl Creamery’s signature cheese, the Mt. Tam.

Enjoy a Guided Horseback Trail Ride with Five Brooks Ranch

Five Brooks Ranch offers guided trail rides for riders of all skill levels at $40 per person. These rides are a great way to see the trails and practice your wrangler skills.

Watch a Play at the Mountain Play Theatre

The Mountain Play Theatre is an outdoor theater located right inside the Mt. Tam State Park. Acting troupes have performed plays like The Sound of Music and Peter Pan and will be debuting West Side Story in May 2016.

Fuel Up with a Meal at Stinson Beach Breaker’s Café

This fun-loving café goes by the philosophy, ‘no shoes, no shirt, we’ll serve you!’ With a location right near Stinson Beach, the Breaker’s Cafe is a great place to get breakfast or lunch before you head up for an adventure on Mt. Tam.

Cycle Up the Mountain

Known as the birthplace of mountain biking, Mt. Tam is a great destination for any dedicated cyclist. For more information about the origin of mountain biking and its Bay Area history, check out the 2006 documentary, Klunkers: A Film About Mountain Biking. The websites Toughest Ascent and Jay’s Essential Bike Rides have great guides to help you plan your ride up Mt. Tam.

Stargaze with the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers

From April to October, the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers (or SFAA) offer monthly lectures for the general public. For those interested in joining SFAA, they also host members-only Star Parties that are held on Mt. Tam and other great locations all over the Bay Area.

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