Exploring Willow Camp, Marin County

Known to mountain bikers as a trail and to equestrians as a stable, Willow Camp had a different identity at the turn of the 19th century — as the place that today we call Stinson Beach. Named after the willow trees that grew near the shore, it formed as a small tent settlement around 1870, when the first road was laid from Sausalito along the Pacific coast. Visitors gained easier access to the area in 1896 when the Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway opened. Would-be beachgoers could ride the train to West Point Inn, then hike or take a stagecoach down to the water. The first businesses didn’t spring up until 1906, when refugees from the San Francisco earthquake arrived. In 1916 Willow Camp was renamed Stinson Beach after local landowners Rose and Nathan Stinson.