Area: Marin County
Distance: 3½ miles
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Medium
Elevation gain: 1,300ft (from 150 - 1500ft)

The Marin headlands across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco offer tons of sightseeing potential, but doesn't everyone know it. Areas like Muir Woods and Stinson Beach are choked with traffic every fair weather weekend. Choose to drive an extra few miles, leaving the mellee behind you and you'll be rewarded with empty roads and quiet trails.

We recommend the Mount Barnabe hike, which rewards with views of Tomales Bay, Mount Tampalis and the surrounding headlands.

To get to the trailhead, exit the 101 and drive 15 miles north along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to a parking area located on the left, just past Samuel P Taylor State Park. It's located exactly on the embedded map below.

Once you've kitted up, cross the road and enter the trail marked 'Devils Gulch Horse Camp'. Veer to the right and follow the stream to a bridge, walk across the bridge and then head left into dense forest. The first three miles of this six mile trail will take you on a gradual rise up the mountain and through the forest, suddenly breaking out into sunlight, surrounded by grassland and turkey vultures.

When you head up to the summit of the mountain be sure to check out the fire tower. Manned during fire season, the fire-watchers sometimes welcome visitors into the tower which affords some even greater views, and some local insights. The return trip is a relatively fast one, directly down the fire road and back to the trailhead.

- Trailspotting Images: Mt. Barnabe on Flickr
- Samuel P Taylor State Park
- State Park Map (PDF)

101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area by Ann Marie Brown