Barnabe Bonanza

Hike to the Panoramic Summit of Barnabe Peak in Samuel P Taylor State Park

Sure, there are higher mountains in Marin (Mount Tam) and easier ascents (Mount Burdell), but is there a more expansive North Bay view? Barnabe Peak in Samuel P. Taylor State Park offers a glorious view of all things Marin—and well beyond! From its summit, which has a cluster of antennas, radio towers, and a fire lookout, you can see all the way out to Point Reyes and Bodega Bay to the west. And that’s not all—you also get a view of three classic Bay Area peaks: Mount Tam, Mount Diablo, and Mount St. Helena. Yeah, you can see a lot!

Woman crossing a bridge over Devils Gulch Creek in Samuel P Taylor State Park

Woman hiking up Barnabe Fire Road in Samuel P Taylor State Park in Marin

Woman standing at the top of Barnabe Peak, looking out to Tomales Point and Bodega Bay

Be forewarned, it’s a tough climb to get to the top. Starting from the Devil’s Gulch area of Samuel P. Taylor, you can peer down into Devil’s Gulch Creek, looking for spawning salmon. The best place to try and spy them is on the bridge marked with the literal salmon signs, which you’ll cross over early in the hike. After that, you have a choice to make on which route to take. If Bills Trail is open, you can take it for a more gradual and forested ascent, which adds a mile to your hike. Bills Trail is often closed in the rainy season.

Woman looking into a cavernous redwood tree at Samuel P Taylor State Park in Marin

The other way up is via the exposed and steep Barnabe Fire Road, which has fantastic views of the grassy (and currently green!) coastal hills galloping all the way to Tomales Point and beyond on clear days. Cooler months are an ideal time to do this option, as it can be a thigh burner with an elevation gain of around 1,200 feet over the 2.5 miles to the summit. The views help power your spirit, if not your legs. The higher you go, the better the scenery, and at the summit it’s likely you’ll have the panorama all to yourself. Go ahead, take that glory twirl as you take in several icons of the Bay Area. On a clear day, this place is postcard perfect.

Woman hiking under redwoods with skylight ahead on Barnabe Fire Road in Samuel P Taylor State Park

Towers and antennas atop Barnabe Peak in Samuel P Taylor State Park

Woman hiking a wide open trail among green rolling hills at Samuel P Taylor State Park in Marin

Coming down from the peak, you also have a couple of options. Retrace your steps for a shorter out-and-back hike. If you have the time, you can opt for a longer loop hike by coming down the Barnabe Trail to the Cross Marin Trail. This makes for a 7-mile (round-trip) lollipop loop hike. There are a couple of intersections that aren’t super well-marked but shouldn’t get you lost. You might have to retrace your steps briefly at points. One point is on the Cross Marin Trail where you will come to a pedestrian overpass; do not cross the overpass, but instead just before the overpass, look to your right, where you’ll see the trail to return to Devil’s Gulch. The path parallels the road for a bit and veers up and inland in forested sections, until you come to a water tower; there are no signs at this water tower, but to the left of it is an obvious trail, which quickly links you to the main trail again. The other is near the Madrone Group Camp where you need to briefly go uphill to join the Barnabe Trail again to return to Devils Gulch.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: In Episode 42 "Out Yule Go" Weekend Sherpa co-founders Brad and Holly talk about highlights of their hike up to Barnabe Peak. What else can you possibly see on this hike other than fantastic views? Listen to find out!

Park at the turnout on the south side of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. at Devils Gulch. (map) Bring a map! In the summer avoid doing this hike in the heat of the day. No dogs.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Berkeley's Backyard Waterfall

    Tucked among the hillside homes of North Berkeley is a winding stairway that leads to the “secret” entrance of a Narnia-like canyon with a 40-foot waterfall.

  2. The Carson Show

    Carson Falls is ready for primetime. This three-tiered, 100-foot stunner is hidden back in a canyon outside of Fairfax and reached on a 3.25-mile (round-trip) hike. The start of th

  3. Falls of the Wild

    Through the redwoods you’ll go on this adventurous 9-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. This hike is loaded with charms, but the big riches come from viewing Maple Falls, a 30-foot stunner that comes to life after rains.

  4. Hood's New Trail

    Tucked just on the edge of Sonoma Valley near Santa Rosa, Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve has a brand-new trail leading up to a brilliant picnic spot with a panorama of Sonoma Valley all the way out to the ocean.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Can You Keep a Secret?

    The Southern Oregon Coast's Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor between Gold Beach and Brookings has so many sights to see, it’s hard to know where to spend your time. We like this trio of suggestions because you can do them as a three-in-a-row jackpot of coastal wonders.

  2. Secret Trail at Torrey Pines

    Find cliff climbs, sandy strolls, and secret hikes throughout “America’s finest sandy stretch" at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego County.

  3. Ojai There!

    If a substantive and super scenic bike ride is right in your wheelhouse, do the 30-mile (round-trip) Ventura-to-Ojai bike path that begins (and ends) near the Ventura shoreline, pit stopping in delightful Ojai for food and drinks.

  4. Fountain to the Falls

    There are three ways to reach the lovely Monrovia Canyon Falls, but only one of them is worthy of being named a good challenge!