Sun Tam

Watching a sunset on Mount Tam in Marin County

If you’ve ever driven Mount Tam’s West Ridgecrest Boulevard, then you know how dramatic it is, with its sweeping coastal scenery, edged by rolling headlands and hulking cliffs, with sea stacks rising from the Pacific, thrashed or bathed by moody waves. So it’s no surprise that some of the best sunset spots in Marin are just a short walk from the road.

One to recommend: the Willow Camp Spur to Willow Camp Fire Road, where you walk for a few minutes out to hilltops and outcroppings with sweeping views of the headlands, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Point Reyes, and all the way out to the Farallon Islands. Yep, this is good stuff. Bring a blanket, a camera, and some picnic provisions (note: it can get windy here), and park at the pullout where the Mount Tam Watershed sign sits. Be careful of oncoming traffic as you cross the street and start along the trail. Spur trails and formal trails shoot off in all directions, but you can’t really get lost, as the wide-open landscape undulates north to south.

Ahead of you, the vast Pacific sparkles beneath the sun’s late-day rays. Fishing boats light up in tandem with the sky, as the sun sinks and dips into the horizon and clouds puff out in fiery hues. Wander to wherever strikes your fancy—there’s plenty of room—then stand or spread out your blanket to take it all in. Sun-sational.

To get there, drive on Panoramic Hwy. toward Pantoll Campground in Mount Tamalpais State Park. Turn right onto Pantoll Rd. toward Rock Springs just before Pantoll Campground. At Rock Springs drive 1.4 miles on West Ridgecrest Blvd. and park at a pullout on the right. Here's a map (you'll see a sign for Marin Municipal Water District). Cross the road and look for the sign Willow Camp Spur to Willow Camp Fire Road; this is the trail to the sunset overlook. No dogs.

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