From San Francisco: Hiking Mt Tamalpais

hiking Mt Tamalpais
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Mount Tamalpais, also known as Mt Tam, is 20+ miles north of San Francisco in Marin County.  Here you’ll find majestic redwood trees and oak forests with waterfalls, stone steps, and you might even notice the enchanting moss growing throughout the intertwining trails as you’re hiking Mt Tamalpais.  Mount Tamalpais State Park is 6,300 acres, has over 60 hiking trails, and the summit is nearly 2,500 feet tall.  It’s the perfect day trip to take out of San Francisco, away from the busy city, to unwind in nature and explore the beauty of California’s coast.


Hiking Mt Tamalpais – Basic Information

girl walking through wooded forest

Getting to Mt Tam + Hours

The main way to get to Mt Tam from San Francisco is by driving across the Golden Gate Bridge on Highway 101 to Highway 1.  You’ll take Highway 1 to the Stinson Beach exit and follow signs up the mountain.  The trails are available to hike every day from 7 am to dusk.



With over 60-miles of hiking trails, there are many different options, ranging from easy to hard when picking a Mt Tamalpais hike.  There is no entrance fee to access the park, however, some of the trailheads require an $8 fee to park so make sure you bring cash with you.


Dogs + Bikes

As long as dogs are leashed, they are allowed in Mt Tam on paved roads.  If you are interested in mountain biking, you’re also permitted to bike on fire roads and the Coast View Trail.


The Dipsea Trail – Mt Tam

mossy, wooded forest

One of the best Mt Tam hikes, the Dipsea Trail to Steep Ravine Trail Loop from the Pantoll parking lot is a must-do.  It’s rated as a moderate loop hike and is approximately 4-miles long.  Almost gaining 1,000 feet of elevation, you’ll end up at the peak of Mount Tamalpais, giving you the ability to see the Farallon Islands, Marin County hills, San Francisco Bay, East Bay, and Mount Diablo on a clear day.  Parking in the Pantoll lot will give you an advantage by allowing you to start the hike on a downhill, and ending the hike on an uphill.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, instead of parking at the Pantoll lot, you can park at Stinson Beach and hike up the trail, which will be nearly 15-miles long.  At mile one of your hike, you’ll reach the Steep Ravine Trail.  Take that until you see Dipsea Trail peel off to the right.

If you plan to hike Dipsea Trail, note that parking is first come first serve.  The trail can get heavily trafficked so I recommend coming early in the morning to get a head start in front of everyone else.  I arrived around 8 am and didn’t have any issues.

For different trails or more information on the Dipsea Trail, make sure to check out AllTrails.


Hiking Mt Tamalpais is the perfect day trip from San Francisco.  Only an hour away you can easily escape and get back to the city on the same day.  San Francisco can oftentimes feel crowded and suffocating… it’s important to take off in nature and refresh.  As always, remember to leave no trace, and stay safe!

If you’re looking to extend your day trip adventure, head to Sausalito in Marin County before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge back to the city.


Read more about Sausalito:  From San Francisco:  A Day Trip to Sausalito




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Kylee is a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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