Sunrise at Ring Mountain Open Space

Ring Mountain Sunrise


From the issue Morning Glory

Sunny Side Up

The beauty of Ring Mountain Open Space is that you've probably never heard of it. This tiny 367-acre park near Tiburon has everything you look for in catching a sunrise: a wide open expanse that can't be reached by car; a rare three-bridge view; and an abundance of boulders—small, medium, and large, with the extra-large distinction going to Turtle Rock—the perfect perch for watching the sun come up. Arrive about an hour before sunrise for a 2.6-mile (round-trip) hike that makes a stop at the rock. Starting from the Paradise Drive trailhead, climb a semi-steep rocky dirt path through coast live oak and California Bay. Continue on the Loop Trail to scale the eastern end of the 602-foot mountain, continuing a climb through low, open grasses, oak cover, and over a small bridge. A final, quarter-mile, steep jaunt followed by a downhill dip leads the way to hulking Turtle Rock. Scramble up to the top of it, and soak up the glowing pinks and reds seeping into the vistas of Tiburon, Belvedere, and the San Francisco Bay—including the Golden Gate, Bay, and Richmond-Bay bridges. The sun's not the only thing rising: Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais stand tall to the east and west. Return via the Phyllis Ellman Loop Trail. Glowing review!

To get there, take US 101 to Corte Madera, and exit at Paradise Dr./Tamalpais Dr. Head east on Tamalpais Dr., veering right onto San Clemente as it turns into Paradise Dr. Continue about a mile on Paradise Dr., just past Westward Dr. The preserve gate and trailhead are on the right side of the road, and free street parking is available. Find a map of the open space on the Ring Mountain Open Space website. Dog-friendly!

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