Run: Marin Headlands (Old Bunker / Coastal / Wolf Ridge / Miwok)

5 miles // 1350′ gain/loss

This is a great run for:

-holding a max HR

-working on downhill speed.

Bay Area > Marin Headlands > Rodeo Valley Trailheads



Take the Alexander Av. exit from the 101. Take a left on Bunker Road and follow the main valley to the right turn marked “Roads Division” just at the crest of a hill with Rodeo Lagoon on your left. Park on the road or in the Marine Center overflow parking. Run through the car gate at the end of the road, headed west, on old pavement.

From here, follow signs for COASTAL TRAIL, eventually hitting some stairs (!). When nearing the top of the hill (and fully experiencing hypoxic hallucinations), you’ll see WOLF RIDGE TRAIL on your LEFT. You can go up and tag HILL 88 (recommended – very weird James Bond set-esque place, though recent extensive rehab is taking a lot of the “spook” out of it). Follow WOLF RIDGE TRAIL until it ends at MIWOK TRAIL. Turn RIGHT on MIWOK, following it back down in to the valley. At your FIRST INTERSECTION, turn RIGHT, following a flat trail back to Rodeo Lagoon.

See if you can maintain a run – any speed will do – through the entire uphill portion (I do not run the serpentine scree at the top of the Coastal Trail stairs) and really open it up on the downhill section.

One of my favorite short (brutal) runs in the world.

Coastal Trail Stone Stairs

View (North) from Wolf Ridge

Hill 88


Another Bay Area Duathalon (shorter but still backwards)

Cycling/Run/Cycling: 24M on the bike and 7M sweet sweet trail miles

Ride: SF->Miwok Trailhead (@ Shoreline)

Run: Miwok Trailhead->Miwok (->Miwok Cutoff->Tennessee Valley->Fox->Coyote Ridge->Miwok->Miwok Trailhead

Ride: back home.

If you’re wondering where to lock that expensive road bike you rode to the Miwok Trailhead, consider that with a cable lock one could actually secure a bike to an enormous eucalyptus tree somewhere back in the woods a bit…

There’s also a moderately secret ridgeline finish that takes you back to the trailhead. On your way back, stay left and high, even when it looks improbable, and you’ll find it. Recommended.

An alternative run (longer, definitely more brutal): from the same pullout, cross the 101 north to pick up Miwok (in to Mt. Tam rather than the Marin Headlands, and take Dias Ridge Trail down in to Muir Beach and back again.


Who you gonna call?

With a Fire/Emergency in the Marin Headlands? Not the Presidio Fire Department, if a panel of Presidio Trust and and GGNRA funded consultants has their way.

The story at:

The San Francisco Examiner

Marin Independent Journal

Interesting that I’ve had an encounter with this very fire station.

This just further reinforces my need to do some real research about the Presidio Trust…

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

Headlands 20 Mile Run


Trail Running

Marin Headlands

19.8 miles

2800 vertical feet +/-

(Rodeo Beach)/Coastal/Wolf Ridge/Old Springs/Tennessee Valley/Coastal/Coastal Fire Road/Middle Green Gulch/HWY 1/Redwood Creek/Miwok/Dias Creek/Miwok Fire Road/Coastal Fire Road/Coastal/(Rodeo Beach)


Sunny and 75 degrees in Marin – where else to run but the Marin Headlands?

I’m sunburned. And beat-down. And Dehydrated. And…

Things I learned:

1) hydrate according to distance (check) and conditions (failure). This was at least 15 degrees F warmer than any long run I’d done to date. I needed 2-3 x the water that I carried on this run – and the shortfall was all due to the fact that I was sweating 5-10x more than I would in cooler weather. Which leads me to…

2) fluids are important, but so are electrolytes. Need I say more? I bought Hammer electrolyte replacement tabs the very next day.

I was a train wreck, absolutely destroyed, at mile 17 and still had the day’s final 3 miles and 800 vertical feet ahead of me. Know what’s not cool? Cramping.

4) My Forerunner 305 is awesome, and not just because I’m getting accurate distance and altitude (… maybe), but because it’s hooking me up with cool services like (to stare at satellite and topo maps of what I’ve done), and programs like TrackRunner (to analyze what I’ve done and improvement over the course of a month, year, etc.).



Redwood Creek Trail (Mt. Tam) was a new part of the North Bay for me, and a very cool one at that. Running around these places in the North Bay there are constant reminders of those that tread these trails before us, and I had a special sense of Native American history as we went from these distinct and diverse ecological areas that no doubt each served different purposes in their society and individual lives: open meadows, redwood forests and creeks, and finally the ridgeline trail that bears the name of those original caretakers (owners?) of that land, the Miwok.

Spring is coming to the Headlands and Mt. Tam, and we should have a great wildflower bloom if we can get a few more days of rain in before things heat up in the north bay.


Marin Headlands

Photos from a 16 miler in the headlands.

Interesting start to the day: alerted rangers to a hiker in distress about 1/2 mile in and helped with his evacuation.

I attempted to haul him out myself but pretty quickly saw the futility of being a tripod for a guy four inches shorter, 40 pounds heavier, and with a fully blown-out knee.

Stone. Cold. Drunk.

This guy had managed to fall in the water (this is incredibly rugged coast), reeked of booze, and still managed to be alive. So much for darwinism.

The rest of the run was a beautiful introduction to longer distances in the Headlands.

(Rodeo Beach)/Costal/Wolf Ridge/Old Springs/Marincello/Miwok/Bobcat/Rodeo Valley Cutoff

Cliffs seen as Costal Trail turns inland

View as Costal Trail ends near Hill 88 / Wolf Trail