Hike or Run Mt. Tam via Temelpa Trail

Temelpa Trail

Hiking/running to the summit of Mt. Tamalpais via Temelpa Trail gives the most spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay Area, the North Coast, and the Marin Headlands over a grueling 3.5 mile climb of nearly 1,200' directly up the east face. It's a treasure.

The Mt. Tam Hill Climb via Temelpa Trail is an iconic, "best-of" climb in the trail running community, drawing some of the world's greatest athletes to experience its breathtaking views and technical downhill. Surprisingly though, outside of locals and the running community, the trail remains largely unknown and features none of the crowds you can find at more popular trailheads like Pantoll and Muir Woods, partially because of its out-of-the-way location.

The trail begins on Fern Canyon Road, just off Summit Ave, in Mill Valley, CA. The trailhead is well marked. Take the trail .3 miles crossing over Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Road. At this point the trail becomes steep and technical (for runners) for about .5 till it becomes more even.

After 1.5 miles the trail will intersect with the Verna Dunshee Trail which loops around the summit of the East Peak. You can go right or left to catch a trail to the summit, with the most direct route being to go right .4 miles, intersecting with the .3 mile long Plank Trail to the summit. Don't forget to slap the door of the Fire Lookout!

As an alternative, going right on Verna Dunshee and just before the wooden bridge is a use trail you can scramble up directly to the summit. Watch for rattlesnakes!

For a longer route you can begin your run in downtown Mill Valley, following Summit Ave till it reaches Temelpa. This adds 4 miles to your trip for a total elevation gain of ~2,600'.

Finally, Mt. Tamalpais State Park has hundreds of miles of beautiful trails and Temelpa can be connected with several others to create fantastic loop leading back to the trailhead. Some of the common ones are Fern Canyon, Railroad Grade, Wheeler, and Gravity Road. Download a Mt. Tam Map here.

Pack List

  • Good trail shoes
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Nutrition
  • Map
  • Headlamp if at night
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RT Distance 4 Miles
Elevation Gain 1200 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Running, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Great Hike!

Pretty much all incline until you hit the switchbacks and then it levels out a bit. Didn't see a single soul the entire time and had many scenic views.

Great Hike

This is a great trail, just be weary of poison oak along the sides of the trail. There is a lot of it.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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