The Marin Headlands
never disappoint. "So close yet so far" is an apt phrase for the raw and rugged beauty of this open space set just miles from the buzz of San Francisco. Sample some of the finer highlights of the Headlands on a 7.5-mile (round-trip) hike combining coastal views, secluded beaches, and a delightful English pub. Get a morning start at Tennessee Valley parking area (this lot fills quickly on weekends) and make your way towards Tennessee Cove on a 1-mile flat trail. Plenty of hikers, bikers, and baby-walkers easily jaunt to the cove, but your destination is further on—where things get hilly. Veer north onto the Coastal Trail, following the sign to Muir Beach. The path rises a few hundred feet, offering better views of the rocky coast. At the next intersection, continue on the Coastal Trail as it winds its way back down to nearly sea level (look for a shoot-off trail to Pirate's Cove
to bask in one of the Bay Area’s most secluded beaches). From here it’s only another 1.5 miles to Muir Beach and the welcoming Pelican Inn
. If it’s sunny, grab a spot on the lawn and drink in the English ambience (along with a pint of "arf and arf"—half Guiness and half ale). Ready for food? Refuel with fish and chips or bangers and mash. Return the way you came, or take a different route by combining the Green Gulch, Middle Green Gulch, Coyote, and Fox Trails (map
). It’s a headlands homerun!To reach the Tennessee Valley trailhead from Hwy. 101 in Marin, exit Mill Valley/Stinson Beach/Hwy. 1. Follow Shoreline Hwy. until you see the Tennessee Valley Rd. sign and turn turn left. Follow it all the way to the end. No dogs.