Sometimes you just need to change your perspective. Nothing can do that quite like hiking to the top of a mountain where you'll see the bay and the county laid out in front of you.
The trek to the 1,558-foot summit of Mount Burdell provides sweeping views of the Bay Area; it’s no wonder, as this is Marin’s fifthhighest peak. The combination of fire road and trail that loops up to the summit is six miles, round trip, of moderately difficult terrain, starting from the trailhead at the San Andreas Drive Open Space gate. To access Mount Burdell Open Space, leave Highway 101 at the San Marin Drive exit, then follow San Marin Drive to San Andreas Drive and go up the hill. Parking is available near the green Open Space gate.
The iconic hike from Mill Valley to the East Peak of Mount Tamalpais includes many options for trails. A popular one is Old Railroad Grade, a wide trail with unobstructed views of Mill Valley and San Francisco Bay all the way to the Pacific. Starting at the end of West Blithedale, Old Railroad Grade Trail is a 7.8-mile steady but moderate loop. Like the scenic railway that preceded it, the Old Railroad Grade is anything but typical. It’s a steady ascent to the 2,571-foot-high East Peak (the highest point on Mount Tam and the highest peak in Marin County), and you should expect a moderately long hike, with the reward of a stunning view from the summit.
After arriving at the parking lot at Fort Cronkite/Rodeo Beach, start your hike up to Hill 88 (pictured) by passing through the gate that lands you on the Coastal Trail. It’s 2.7 miles (a 5.4-mile loop) and 1,100 feet of climbing to reach the top of Hill 88. The Coastal Trail starts out as road and becomes a mixture of road and trail up through multiple switchbacks. Looking left about 1.5 miles in, check out Battery Townsley (a partially buried concrete bunker), a great spot that provides stellar coastal views. As you approach Wolf Ridge, the grade increases and a small trail off to the right leads up to Hill 88. Take in the views on the hike back down to Rodeo Beach.