Marin Headlands – Keeping it up (the vertical, that is)

Marin Headlands and Mt. Tamalpais

Trail Running


3400 ft. +/-


Miwok/Dias Ridge/Miwok/Redwood Creek/Deer Park Fire Road/Dipsea Trail/Coastal Trail/Old Mine Trail/(Pantoll)/Matt Davis/Coastal Trail


Matt Davis/Coastal/(Pantoll)/Coastal Fire Road/Heather Cutoff/Muir Woods Rd./Muir Beach Rd./Coastal Fire Road/Fox Trail/Tennessee Valley Trail

Another “thank god I live in the Bay Area” day, another trip to the Marin Headlands.

Starting out from the Tennessee Valley Trailhead for the first time was an exercise in patience, with equal measures cars and baby joggers out. But with parking secured, we were on our way.

I had never done the stretch of Miwok that picks up from Tennessee Valley trailhead but found it a fine enough stretch to warm up, though I have to cop to powerwalking the steeper sections. I’ve really tried to get better about managing my heart rate, especially in the first hour or so, as I work on longer distances. Has it worked? Who knows – my knees are always the limiting factor in the final hour(s).

Trail Running Marin Headlands

Erm, Redwood Creek trail – I just saw you a month ago, and now you’re all gnarly and overgrown with poison oak? Nasty. The best part was seeing the old (old) lady in shorts who seemed genuinely unfazed by it while she bushwhacked. I love old people in Marin.

Redwood Creek took us to the Deer Park fire road gate and a familiar stretch of the Dipsea. It’s funny how I’m starting to put things together, spatially, in the North Bay as I run more and more trails. “Ok, so THAT’s where I am…”

Pantoll was a welcome refueling stop. After my hydration debacle a few weeks ago I was now running with fuel belt + (2) 20oz. water bottles (and electrolytes), though I realized in retrospect that without the opportunity to refill at Pantoll I would have once again been hosed. How do those ultra guys carry enough fluids?

First time on the Matt Davis trail. I’d read about this stretch a few places and saw it recommended, but this trail is 10/10 – flattest terrain on tam and the views are beyond description once you’re out of the woods. This is definitely my new go-to when friends are in from out of town and are up for an hour or two of walking.

Trail Running Mt. Tamalpais

Also finally made it to coastal fire road headed south from Pantoll on the return trip; this is another of my new all-time favorites, although I loved it even more because we were descending, and man I needed it right about then. The diversity of vegetation and awesome nontechnical singletrack were great.

Big mistake taking Heather cutoff with it’s overgrown vegetation and endless switchbacks. We would have been better served staying on coastal and getting a few more road miles in on Hwy 1. Lesson learned.

Oh, and Coastal Trail/Coastal Fire Road, ascending from Muir Beach? Screw you. Screw your endless steep-ass grade at the end of my day when I am already fried. I didn’t need that from you. Coastal is open to Pirate’s Cove, though – I need to check that out.

From the peak of Coastal (intersection Coastal/Fox) it was all downhill to the car, starting with a view of our ultimate destination, San Francisco.

Trail Running Marin Headlands

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