Clydes Ridge
Peak 1,041ft P300
Wolf Ridge P300 NN
Coyote Ridge P300
Homestead Hill
Twin Knolls
Ballou Point
Bolinas Ridge
Trojan Point
Bare Knoll

Sat, Jan 28, 2017

With: Steve Sywyk

Coyote Ridge
Twin Knolls
Trojan Point
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 Profiles: 1 2 3

My family was otherwise occupied away from home for the entire day, leading me to look for something to do myself. I hit upon paying a visit to the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco, a huge area of rolling, grassy hills administered by a number of agencies under the umbrella of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Back around 1990 I used to run marathons in these hills with Envirosports, run by Dave Horning. They were a huge breath of fresh air, different from the usual events such as the LA and SF Marathons that involve thousands of participants, hundreds of volunteers, and big productions. Dave's races were pretty low-key by comparison, having maybe 20 runners for each of the half and full marathon divisions. There were no medals, no trophies, and were held in beautiful mountain areas away from cities that allowed one to take in the natural wonders of the Bay Area. Aid stations were about 5mi apart and consisted of some jugs of water sitting on the ground at a trail junction to refill the bottle you carried and maybe a small box of granola bars and bananas cut in half. You were allowed to deduct time if you stopped to take in the scenes around you - "Wilderness Appreciation Minutes", he called them. I haven't run one of these races in more than 25yrs, but they were one of the inspirations in getting me to spend long hours in the outdoors. Dave is now nearly 70yrs old and still running Envirosports events.

I picked Steve up at 7a and together we drove north on I-280 and SR1 through SF to Marin. We stopped briefly at the Golden Gate viewspot at the north side of the bridge before driving west into the Marin Headlands.

Clydes Ridge

Separating Rodeo Lagood from Bonita Cove, Clydes Ridge forms the southern edge of the Marin Headlands abutting the Pacific Ocean. Conzelman Rd runs along the crest, an incredibly popular tourist draw with many stunning view spots that are typically packed with cars and people. Mixed with the modern recreational uses are the remains of WWII bunkers and Cold War Nike Missle control and launch sites. The highpoint of Clydes Ridge is a short hike from Conzelman Rd. We used a small dirt turnout northwest of the summit and a use trail heading up from there. An equally short, and perhaps more legal start can be found southwest of the summit where a large lot is located and a better trail. The summit features a old concrete structure of unknown purpose with some interesting graffiti. The views to the Golden Gate Bridge and across the Marin Headlands are superb.

Peak 1,041ft / Wolf Ridge

These two summits are found on the north side of Rodeo Lagoon in the center of the Marin Headlands. We drove down past the Visitor Center to the Miwok TH to start a 7mi hike that would take in both summits in a large loop. The trails were quite busy with dozens of runners going by on most of the trails we visited. The Miwok Trail took us up from sea level to the unnamed 1,041-foot summit where a VOR station is located. The exact highpoint is a bit moot since the top was leveled for the aircraft navigation site. We walked a short distance past the summit to the east where we could get a nice view looking in that direction to Richardson Bay before returning back down the Miwok Trail. At a junction at a saddle we turned off the Miwok to follow the Wolf Ridge Trail up to the ridgeline of the same name. The highpoint of Wolf Ridge is also called Hill 88, a former radar control station for the nearby Nike missle base at Fort Cronkhite. All that is left (besides some swell views) are the concrete hulls of the various building, some support structures and landing pads. All of this has become the canvas of some creative (and others much less talented) graffiti artists. We followed the ridge west past a few smaller hills, a collection of WWII pillboxes and the Townsley Battery found at the southwest edge of the ridgeline. Oddly, there is a massive gun from the USS Missouri (the battleship on which the Japanese signed surrender papers) on display here. To what purpose? The gun was never used here and is not representative of the ones that were. Seems maybe someone picked it up a garage sale and thought it would be cool to display somewhere. We dropped back down one of several trail options to Rodeo Cove and back to the start after a little over 2.5hrs.

Coyote Ridge / Homestead Hill

We drove back out to US101, through Mill Valley and then west on Hwy 1. Near the summit, at the junction with Panoramic Hwy, Hwy 1 was closed due to a slide from the recent deluge. This would inconvenience us only slightly. We parked off the road at the junction and headed off down the closed section of Hwy 1 for Coyote Ridge. The highpoint of Coyote Ridge is the third highest in the Marin Headlands (that area south of Hwy 1) and its northernmost summit. A fireroad follows along the east side of the ridge from the highway in a southerly direction before meeting with the Coyote Ridge Trail that goes up to the open summit. Looking south, we could see the previous two summits we had visited with the Tennessee Valley in the foreground. Steve had last been to Marin Headlands when his daughter was in 6th grade 10yrs earlier for a field trip. He was reliving some of the memories when we came upon a banana slug on our return. "Hey, I remember one of the challenges they gave the kids was to kiss a banana slug." For nostalgia, he obliged the camera before spitting out the slime he'd picked up in the effort. They still don't taste very good.

Back at the car we realized the next summit was less than a half mile to the north so we left the car where it was and followed the Panoramic Hwy a quarter mile north before turning off to find the highpoint of Homestead Hill. Here we found a small group of radio-controlled glider enthusiasts taking advantage of the stiff wind blowing up and across the small hilltop from the east. We watched a few of the pilots dancing their planes across the sky, back and forth in sweeping arcs. Others were on the ground fixing, adjusting or testing their planes in what looks like a rather fun hobby.

Twin Knolls

Back in the car, we drove north and west on Panoramic Hwy, onto Pan Toll Rd and W. Ridgecrest Blvd, on the boundary of Mt. Tamalpais State Park and the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed managed by the Marin Water District. Along this road are a number of exceedingly minor, named summits that I had planned to finish up the day with. Twin Knolls was the northermost of these, nearly a drive-up. We parked less than 200ft from the summit which required a gain of maybe 20ft. Points just to the south were clearly higher and it seemed odd that this one would get an official BGN name. The point overlooks Bolinas to the west, though partially blocked by a lower knoll across the road. Before returning, we paid a visit to this other perch to get a better view of Bolinas and Stinson Beach below.

Ballou Point

About 3/4mi southeast of Twin Knolls, Ballou Point has a similar view of Stinson Beach from an overlook just above the roadway. The actual highpoint of the indistinct summit area appears to be in a clump of trees that we visited in a small loop before returning to our starting point. I worried that Steve was beginning to see the true nature of my depravity.

Bolinas Ridge / Trojan Point / Bare Knoll

These three points south of Ballou Point are all located within Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Bolinas Ridge is the highest and easiest from where we parked along W Ridgecrest Blvd. The other two are more easily reached from the Trojan Point parking lot along Pan Toll Rd, but we simply included them in a 2mi loop around the grassy hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The area was quite popular on a Saturday afternoon with various groups and individuals plying the many interconnected trails both official and unofficial that traverse the slopes and climb the ridgelines. It was 4p by the time we finished up, ending our run of ten Marin summits over the course of the day. For my part, I had so much fun that I'd be back in a few days for more of the same. It remains to be seen when Steve will want to join me again for such shenanigans...

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This page last updated: Fri Feb 3 10:21:04 2017
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