Nothing beats a five and a half mile loop in the Marin Headlands. Especially when you’re climbing 1600 vertical feet and hiking along ridge tops on Rodeo Valley Trail, with sweeping views of Bay waters and the Pacific Ocean to the left and right.
Nothing beats a five and a half mile loop in the Marin Headlands. Especially when you’re climbing 1600 vertical feet and hiking along ridge tops on Rodeo Valley Trail, with sweeping views of Bay waters and the Pacific Ocean to the left and right. The best part is that the trailhead begins from a commuter parking lot, 50 feet from Highway 101. The urban and natural worlds collide at this intersection of flawless wilderness in Sausalito.
What Makes It Great
Rodeo Valley Trail is perfect for those with not a lot of time, but want to dive deep in nature. The trailhead itself is right off the highway, from there, climb 10 minutes up Alta Trail and suddenly the gates open to the Headlands. Wide-open meadows are protected by elegant rolling hills, while the ocean peeks out from behind them. The trail is completely in the sun, and for most San Franciscans, can be a pleasant escape from the fog.
Wildlife abounds with raptors and hawks often seen flying high above, and way down below at sea level you can follow tiny cars as they wind their way through Gerbode Valley. The Rodeo Valley loop is great because you can see it all from different viewpoints—high and low, near and far from the Ocean.
Who is Going to Love It
Urban Dwellers seeking a day of refuge. The trailhead is accessible by SF buses on the weekends, so you don’t even need a car to get to the Bay Area’s well-loved trail. This is a gentle trail that climbs steadily to the top. It’s almost all exposed to the sun, so on a hot day definitely prepare since water is not available on the trail. All levels of hikers are encouraged to explore
The Headlands are home to heroic history, so anyone with an interest in the past will marvel in the WW2 barracks, tunnels and batteries.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Traveling North on Highway 101, take the first exit after the rainbow tunnel (Spencer Ave.) park in either commuter lots (don’t leave any valuables in the car) and cross the street to the trailhead. Start on Morning Sun trail, and follow signs to Rodeo Valley Trail. It roller coasters up and down through Gerbode Valley, offering options to hike past the old Nike Missile Site, Rodeo Beach and the Tennessee Valley horse stables. Take any route, and look for Bobcat or Rodeo Valley trails to loop you back to your car. Sorry, leave fido at home, and plan ahead since cell service is very limited.