• Pathloom Guest Blogger

Local Scoop: Coyote Loop, an Underrated Hike in Marin County, California

A Hidden Gem of the North Bay with Breathtaking Views


Fog rolling in across Mount Tamalpias as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean

Mount Tamalpias: Marin, CA - Photo Credit: Kate Bartschat



Marin County, located to the North of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge and through the Robin Williams Tunnel, is commonly considered to be one of the most beautiful regions of the country for good reason. From stunning coastal views in the Marin Headlands to alpine forests on Mt. Tamalpais, there is something for everyone. But when I say everyone, I mean everyone. Each weekend there is a mass migration from the city to Marin. If you are like me and prefer enjoying nature alone, this can be frustrating. Luckily, as a born-and-raised Marin-ite, I’ve had 24 years to find the path less traveled.


One of my favorite under-the-radar hikes is a relatively easy hour-long loop in the Marin Headlands that I call the ‘Coyote Loop’. This hike offers beautiful views of Tamalpais Valley, Tennessee Valley, and the Pacific Ocean. It is also one of the few hikes in the Headlands that allows dogs. This hike is best enjoyed in the hours before sunset when you can watch the fog roll in. As with any outdoor adventure in the Bay, make sure to pack a layer!


Pepper, a mighty chihuahua-ish puppy lording over the peak of Mount Tamalpias as the fog rolls in below

Pepper, Mountain Spirit of Mount Tamalpias: Marin, CA - Photo Credit: Kate Bartschat



Directions:

  • This hike begins at the end of County View Drive in a quiet neighborhood (37.872490, -122.536036) Because this trailhead is not well known, there is no parking lot. However, street parking is usually very easy to find.

  • Begin walking on Miwok Trail, the sole path beginning at the trailhead. The trail gets its name from the Miwok, a Native American tribe indigenous to the Bay Area and Northern California. A large portion of the elevation change in this hike is at the very beginning, so don’t be afraid to power through this initial uphill climb. As you crest this hill, you will see Tamalpais Valley on your left.

  • Continue on Miwok Trail until you reach the first junction. Take a slight left onto the path that borders a small valley to continue on the Miwok Trail. Note the chaparral biome (thick shrubbery) - plants here evolved to wick moisture from the evening and morning fogs.


Note: Stay alert on this hike, as mountain bikers often ride down this trail at high speeds


Watching the sun set with the dogs on Mount Tamalpias in Marin, California

Mount Tamalpias: Marin, CA - Photo Credit: Kate Bartschat



  • You should pass a large eucalyptus tree directly beside the path. These trees were brought to California by homesick Australian immigrants during the Gold Rush. This invasive species is a nuisance to locals as their shaggy, shedding bark poses quite a fire hazard. In their defense, the trees do smell really good! Follow the path until it transforms into a wide fire-road overlooking a heavily forested valley.

  • At this second junction turn left to continue on the Miwok Trail. You should be heading in the opposite direction of the eucalyptus forest, deeper into the headlands. Continue until you reach a third junction.

  • At the third junction follow the signage for Coyote Ridge Trail, the path with a sharp incline. This is the second stretch of the hike with a hill, but it is certainly worth the view. Continue along this path as it wraps around a small peak.

Scraps of bark from a Eucalyptus Tree naturally fall away from the trunk on Mount Tamalpias in Marin, California

Eucalyptus Tree on Mount Tamalpias: Marin, CA - Photo Credit: Kate Bartschat



  • At the top of this hill is a 360 degree viewing point: the perfect place for a snack. From this spot you can get a clear view of Muir Beach, Mt. Tamalpais, and the Headlands. This is the halfway point of the hike!

  • After a brief break, continue a short way along Coyote Ridge Trail towards the ocean. Keep your eyes peeled for a partially hidden path in the shrubbery on the left-hand side of the trail. Once you spot this small trail, leave the main road and follow the path which goes in the direction of the trailhead. This trail takes you along the edge of a steep valley through thick underbrush.


Note: Coyotes can be active in this area. If you have a small dog, make sure to keep them on a tight lead


An incredible view of a trail running through the Marin Headlands

Mount Tamalpias: Marin, CA - Photo Credit: Kate Bartschat



  • As you walk on this trail, you should pass a gray lichen-covered boulder resting above the shrubbery. Continue on the trail until it leads to a larger boulder, which locals (or at least my dad) have dubbed Haypress Rock for the campsite it overlooks. This is a great spot to find a seat and view Tennessee Valley below. As you approach Haypress Rock, you might be able to spot a porcelain bathtub hidden among the shrubs in the valley. Very mysterious.

  • Continue on the trail as it descends into deep shrubbery and emerges parallel to Miwok Trail. At the next junction, turn right to once again merge with Miwok Trail. Continue on Miwok Trail until you return to the trailhead.


And there you have it! A peaceful hike for the less socially inclined. Catching a view of the breathtaking coastline and formidable Mt. Tamalpais without a group of tourists is a rare gem in an area as busy as Marin! Enjoy the alone time... as Thoreau said: “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”


Triumph on a mountain peak, a person holds their dog and watches the sun set over the Pacific Ocean

Mount Tamalpias: Marin, CA - Photo Credit: Kate Bartschat


Guest Blogger Kate Bartschat is an artist, designer, and marketer with a passion for the outdoors that stems from growing up in California's North Bay. You can find more of her work at her website, kbartschatdesign.com

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