About Tennessee Cove Beach in Mill Valley, California
Tennessee Cove Beach is a dark sand beach on the west side of the Marin Headlands in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The beach has a secluded feel due to the colorful high rock walls surrounding it. This area is a hiker’s paradise with trails meandering in all directions from the trailhead and the beach with lots to discover.
The beach at Tennessee Cove requires a two-mile hike from the Tennessee Valley Trailhead. The trail descends the valley and passes a freshwater pond (which attracts birds) before ending at the sandy beach. The creek pools up at the back of the beach forming another small pond.
About 200 feet up and visible from the beach, there is a military bunker at a spot called the Tennessee Valley Beach Overlook. The trail to this viewpoint starts at the back of the beach near an old concrete with a bench on top. Another hiking trail called the Coastal Trail ascends the bluff on the south side and climbs up to high points on Wolf Ridge with views and more military structures to investigate.
At high tide the cove fills up leaving only sand where the trail and creek enter it. If you visit Tennessee Beach at extremely low tides you might be able to see part of a rusting ship engine in the shifting sands (especially in the winter months). This engine is from a shipwreck of the steamship SS Tennessee which was beached in the cove after missing the Golden Gate entrance in fog in 1853. Before the shipwreck this valley was named Elk Valley for the Tule elk which lived here at the time.
The cliffs surrounding Tennessee Cove are dramatic and photogenic. Sadly, on December 29th 2012 the Tennessee Beach rock arch collapsed and fell into the surf. It was at the top of the large notch in the north cliff.
To reach the Tennessee Beach trailhead parking lot, turn off Highway 1 in the Mill Valley area onto Tennessee Valley Road and drive west to the end.
- Tennessee Valley Rd
Mill Valley, CA 94941
- Park Name
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area
- National Park
- Pet Details
- No dogs allowed on main trail or beach
- Free parking
- Hiking, Beach Exploration, Mountain Biking, Equestrian Use
- Lagoon, Trails, Sea Stacks, Shipwreck, Military Structures, Restrooms (at the trailhead)
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