Lifestyle- Short Day Hikes in Marin

When I'm not in the kitchen, I love to be outside. Most any outdoor activity is right up my alley... gardening, dog walking, horseback riding, bike riding.... But, one of my favorite pastimes is to take to the trails of Marin for a brisk hike to enjoy all the gorgeous scenery we are so lucky to have at our doorstep. October is the most beautiful weather in the Bay Area and a perfect time to get out there and explore!

Here are three of my favorite day hikes. All are easily accessible with plenty of free parking. 

image credit- funplacescalifornia.com

image credit- funplacescalifornia.com

Phoenix Lake- A small regional park maintained by the Marin Municipal Water District. It is dog friendly but is 'on-leash' only. I hike here at least twice each week. Phoenix is hidden away in the hills of Ross and is just beautiful with a sparkling blue lake and lush redwood canyons as well as oak studded hillsides. Three of my favorite trails here are Tucker Trail (@ 4 miles) which winds through a redwood canyon with several seasonal waterfalls, Phoenix Lake Loop Trail (@2.5 miles) which circles the lake and is very well traveled, and Yolanda Trail (@4.5 miles) which rewards you beautiful vistas of the surrounding hills and the Lake from above. There is a good trail map in the parking area and at the main trail head. Info on Yolanda Trail here, http://www.bahiker.com/northbayhikes/phoenixlake.html

image credit- visitnovato.org

image credit- visitnovato.org

 Mt. Burdell - A lesser known Marin County Open Space area, Mt Burdell in Novato is well worth seeking out. It's a pastoral spot with rolling hills and oak trees, seasonal streams, and even grazing cows. A climb to the top of the trail affords great views of the entire Northern Bay with Mt Tam in the background. It's very dog friendly as well. The primary trail is part fire road, part single track and is about a 5 mile loop. There's a detailed trail map at the trailhead and abundant street parking.

photo credit- infinite endurance.com

photo credit- infinite endurance.com

 Tennessee Valley- One of the most easily accessible hiking areas from San Francisco, it's just over the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands. Dogs have very limited access here since much of the open space is part of the GGNRA. So, if you plan to bring your pooch make sure you know which trails you can take before setting out. The main 'beach trail' is partially paved, part fire road, and part single track trail. It is well traveled and can be crowded on the weekends but is worth it for the lovely beach you'll find at the end. It's about 4 miles out and back. Don't limit yourself to the beach trail though as this area has many beautiful options of varying lengths. Another of my favorites is the Coyote Ridge Trail which links to the Miwok Trail and to the Fox Trail. It's a pretty good climb but the payoff is spectacular with great views of the entire SF Bay, Pacific Coast and Muir Beach beach. There's a good trail map in the parking area.