Mount Tamalpais, a.k.a. Mount Tam, is known as the birthplace of mountain biking. It put Marin County on the mountain bike map back in the late 1960s and 1970s. This large state park is also good for hiking, horseback riding and scenic driving. The park has a visitor center high up on East Peak where a short hiking trail leads up to the 2571 foot summit. Trails and old fire roads meander in all directions inside the park boundaries and outside the park on the slopes of Mt. Tam.
Mt. Tam State Park also touches the Pacific Ocean between the small towns of Muir Beach and Stinson Beach (those two beaches are not in the park, but close). The beaches in the state park are small sandy coves hidden below the steep hillside where Shoreline Highway (Highway 1) twists and turns as it moves tourists up the Marin County Coast. See the map above and list below of the beaches.
Sunset from Mount Tam
There are several campgrounds in the park. Pantoll and Bootjack Campgrounds each have about 15 sites that can’t be reserved (first come, first served). Steep Ravine Beach on the coast has several tent camp sites and nine rustic cabins that can be rented (reservations required). The park also has a group camp for groups of 25-50 people and a horse camp too.
Steep Ravine Cabins at Mt. Tam State Park
Mt. Tam’s sister park, Muir Woods National Monument, is completely surrounded by the state park and has its own visitor center with exhibits to entice you into hiking their various groves of trees.
There are many animals to look out for on your adventures here. Most are welcomed sights, but there are mountain lions too. Birders can spot any of over 150 species of birds that have been identified at Mount Tam. Be aware as you hike around these parks as this area has ticks. These tiny arachnids carry lyme disease and are hard to see. To avoid them don’t go off trail and if you do, check yourself for ticks afterwards.
If you don’t plan to camp, then consider staying in a hotel nearby. The best places are Mill Valley, Stinson Beach, Muir Beach, and Sausalito which has more options and isn’t far away. West Point Inn offers an excellent overnight experience. It is right on the slopes of Mt. Tam, but you have to hike or bike to get there!
Consult the state park map to see which users are allowed on each trail.