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Go on a Camping, Lake-Jumping, Full-Moon-Hiking, Adventure in Marin

Mill Valley, California



5.75 miles

Route Type



Added by Sarah Eichstedt

This can be a last-minute adventure (no reservations required) and has everything you would want in a perfect summer day: camping, hiking, a rope swing into a lake, picnicking, and gorgeous views.

Start early in the morning by securing one of the 16 first-come-first-serve campsites at Pantoll Campground on Mount Tamalpais. (You can call the ranger station ahead of time to check availability.) The sites are $25/night and are walk-in, but are only a short distance from the parking lot. They each have a fire-ring, food lockers, access to restrooms, a group dish-washing area, and drinking water. There is a ranger station on site that sells firewood and has maps and trail advice.

After setting up camp and grabbing a snack, jump back in the car and head up to the Palomarin Trailhead on the south end of Point Reyes National Seashore (about a 35 minute drive from camp). You'll want to get here early on the weekends to get a spot. Otherwise, you can just park further down on the road and get a few extra steps in ;)

Follow the Coast Trail from Palomarin Trailhead to Bass Lake. It's a fairly easy ~2.5-3 miles to the Lake. As soon as you pass the lake, on the left you will see a narrow unmarked dirt trail. Take this trail and you'll get to a nice clearing with easy lake access (this will be a great spot for lunch in the sun after swimming). To continue to the rope swing (which is a MUST DO), follow any of the narrow trails at the other end of the clearing. You'll soon arrive at the small steep clearing from where you'll be re-living your childhood by swinging into the lake! Don't forget to bring your swimming gear, inflatable rings to hang out in the middle of the lake, and a pack lunch! (Note: there's poison oak along the narrow trails, so you might want to avoid shorts or flip-flops.)

After enjoying the afternoon by the lake, take the same trail back and drive to your already secured camp site on Mount Tam. Feel free to stop by the town of Bolinas or Stinson Beach for a drink at the local pub before heading back to camp. You can even add a hike to Alamere Falls from Bass Lake for additional adventure (but beware of the massive crowds at this location on the weekends).

Now the rest of the night is yours to roast marshmallows, make a camp dinner, explore the surrounding trails, or just head to bed. Bonus: if you choose to camp out on a night with a full moon you can  hike the cliffs toward the ocean by moonlight. Absolutely stunning!

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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