One Wrong Turn Up Mt Tam

Recently I went to Mount Tamalpais. The goal wasn’t to make it to the top of Mt Tam, but when I missed a turn, and decided to keep going up.

From Ross, the climb to East Mt Tam Peak ended up being 14 miles out and back. The first 7 were uphill, climbing about 2500 feet, and the second 7 were downhill; if you do not feel that, you can drive and hike .3.

Mount Tamalpais State Park view

About Mount Tamalpais State Park and Mt Tam:

Located north of San Francisco, Mount Tamalpais State Park is in the heart of Marin County. It features deep canyons, redwood forests, and open grassland. There are three peaks, East Mt Tam and Middle, and North.

Mount Tamalpais State Park

You can see more information here.

There are plenty of breathtaking views at Mount Tamalpais State Park, including the run I talked about last week.

Mount Tamalpais State Park

What Can You Do at Mount Tamalpais State Park?

If you visit San Francisco and want a peaceful or fun place to run or hike, I highly suggest Mount Tamalpais, State Park. There are miles of trails to keep you entertained whether you want easy, intense, or climb up a mountain.

Here are a few more: 

  • Running and hiking
  • Mountain biking/biking
  • wildlife watching
  • Camping
  • Apparently, during noncovid times, there is also a mountain theater at Mount Tamalpais State Park.

There are plenty of signs to be aware of mountain lions and rattlesnakes, so be mindful of that.

Mount Tamalpais State Park

I’ve been parking near the Ross Commons in San Rafael when exploring Mount Tamalpais State Park. I usually get there around 7 am, and there is plenty of parking. By 10 am, there is usually no parking.

Mt Tam

As mentioned, running up to the top of Mt Tam was never on the to-do list. In fact, if you told me that’s what I would end up doing that day, I would have laughed. Ultimately, I missed a turn to take me towards the lakes. I realized it around mile 4 when I was still climbing. By that time, my spouse and I decided just to keep going and see what we see.

Mount Tamalpais State Park

The first 3 miles on the way up Mt Tam are easy, smooth, dirt fire roads. (Easy, meaning not too many rocks, they climb about 300 feet per mile). Around 3.5-4, it does get rocky, and it becomes harder. I wouldn’t classify the roads up to Mt Tam as super technical, but I would be more mindful of rocks.

Mt Tam

Around 6.5, you’ll reach the road. Mount Tamalpais is accessible by car and then about a .3 mile rocky hike to the top. It also does cost money to get up there.

The last .3 mile hike up is tough and rocky. I was tired but also averaged about 14 min miles for the last portion.

Mt Tam quick stairs
A short stair/ramp portion up Mt Tam

Once you get to the East Peak of Mt Tam, it’s well worth the view.

Mt Tam

In all, not what I planned at Mount Tamalpais State Park that day, but fun to run up to the top of East Mt Tam Peak. I might try and explore the other peaks soon.

Mt Tam
One of my favorite views from climbing Mt Tam

You can see more trail runs and hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you been to the East Peak of Mount Tamalpais? 

What’s the most scenic run you’ve done lately?