Marin County Travel Guide
Cataract Falls, Marin County
Are you looking for a waterfall siting? Then Cataract Falls is the place to be; it’s one of the best waterfalls in Marin County! Although it’s about an hour north of Berkeley, it’s definitely worth the drive, as you’ll see the beautiful sceneries of San Francisco and Marin. The 2.6-mile hike (from the roadside parking area along Fairfax-Bolinas Road) is quite moderate with slight elevations. We recommend going in the winter or after heavy rain, as the waterfall will be more magnificent!
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Dipsea and Steep Ravine Trails
With staggering redwoods, rushing waterfalls and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, the Steep Ravine and Dipsea trails are guaranteed to satisfy your craving for adventure. These trails are perfect for a hilly morning run, a peaceful day hike or even a picnic under the redwoods.
Winding under leafy canopies and towering over breathtaking views, the scenic drive leading to the Steep Ravine trail is a treat in itself. Although parking is flexible, we recommend leaving your car at one of the two dirt lots on the shoulder of Panoramic Way, about 200 yards from its intersection with Highway 1. This spot puts you across the street from the Dipsea trailhead. A little under a mile into your journey on this trail, veer left at the fork labelled "Steep Ravine Trail" for a tour of redwoods, rushing streams and even a few waterfalls.
Lounging on the beach adjacent to the Steep Ravine Campground, you may even stumbled on some steaming, sulfurous sand and dig our own footbaths.
To build your own hot springs, drive south on Highway 1 for about half a mile. When you see a prominent white fence to your right, park on the side of the road and follow the gated path down towards the beach. As you approach the northern end of the sandy cove, start searching for hot streams. We recommend bringing a friend with especially gifted olfactory senses to sniff out the sulfur. Whether or not you find our foot spas, this secluded beach is a perfect end to a day of adventures.
Point Bonita Lighthouse
Point Bonita Lighthouse was built in 1855, was the third lighthouse built on the West Coast and helped shepherd ships through the treacherous Golden Gate straights. Today, the lighthouse is still active and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The half-mile trail is steep in places.
The tunnel halfway to the lighthouse is open only during visiting hours: Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Battery Wallace, near the Point Bonita trailhead, is one of the parklands’ most scenic picnic spots with tables and grills overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Bring your own water when visiting. Sights along the trail to the lighthouse include the ruins of an historic Coast Guard rescue station, wildflowers, and pillow basalt rock formations.
Tours Sun,Mon 12:30-3:30p Discover Point Bonita’s wild landscape, geology, and fascinating history with a guided tour.
Getting There from San Francisco:
- Drive north across the Golden Gate Bridge. Exit at Alexander Avenue (just beyond the Vista Point).
- Drive 0.2 miles on Alexander Avenue. Turn left onto Bunker Road (marked by a brown sign: Fort Baker/Marin Headlands Tunnel Route).
- Drive to the 1-way Baker-Barry Tunnel, which is controlled by a 5-minute light. When the light is green, proceed through the tunnel.
- Drive through the housing area. Stay on Bunker Road for approximately 2 miles.
- Turn left onto Field Road (follow sign to Visitor Center)
The Visitor Center will appear on your right, in a historic military chapel. Continue 0.6 – 0.7 miles to the Point Bonita Parking Lot. The lot is on the right-hand side of the road and the following sign will appear before it: Parking Lot for: Handicap; Battery Alexander; Pt. Bonita Lighthouse; Bird Island; Coastal Trail
Very limited parking availability.
Far North Marin
Point Reyes National Seashore
- 1 hour from Berkeley
Estero Trail 5 hour 7+ miles
- Critters and views along a trail that leads to a fun little beach, not only is the journey a good time, but the destination adds some motivation to get through this five-hour round trip hike.
You get to walk through amazing foliage and many estuaries, rivers and streams leading to the ocean. You can see wildlife like coyotes, deer and cows.
- Bring a jacket as you get ocean winds.
Alamere Falls, Point Reyes.
About an hour’s drive from Berkeley, this waterfall is well worth the drive and the long walk in. Cascading over 30 feet down a sheer cliff, the water crashes onto a sandy beach below. To access Alamere Falls, begin at the Palomarin Trailhead and take the Alamere Falls Trail down to the waterfall itself. Be aware that to access the beach, it is a slippery scramble down loose sandstone. For a safer, albeit longer, route down to the waterfall, hike to Wildcat Beach campground and walk up the beach to the falls from there.
Along the hike, horsetail ferns, blooming waterlilies and butterflies take up residence, making the trail beautiful. Come July, blackberries provide snacks for the hungry waterfall seeker. Bass Lake, along the way, provides an excellent midway swimming hole, complete with a rope swing and the occasional nude swimmer.
Outdoors escape packed full of different hiking trails, this national park offers scenery ranging from breathtaking coastal views to the world’s tallest Redwoods that California is famous for.