Hiking: East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais

San Francisco has my heart.

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& in way more ways than one.

Having lived outside of the city for two years and working both in and around the city, I’ve come to appreciate the “quiet” energy that surround the fabulous city itself. Exploring was always on my radar when I lived there, but most of the time it was a quick escape in between working hours.

Now that I travel to visit, adventure hours are endless and I quickly stuffed them with explorations; one of these trips happened to be a hike up to the East Peak of Tamalpais.

My ride and one of my favorite SF Adventure Partner picked me up in Mill Valley, Ca at 8:45 and we headed over to Donut Alley in Larkspur to fuel up.. on donuts. I shamefully have to admit that this has become my favorite pre or post adventure treat. After inhaling an old fashioned chocolate donut and a cup of their old fashioned, organic coffee, I knew I could take on the world (or the summit of Mt.Tam).

We parked at the Mountain Home Inn (which is rumored to have the best grilled cheese?!) and headed toward the Fire Station. Hidden off to the left of the station is a fire road that heads straight up (the Gravity Car Fire Road, which turns into the Old Railroad Grade). That’s where we took of the beaten path and hit the single track trail (Vic Haun Trail). The trail is clearly marked and has a set of stairs that head directly up.

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Starting the hike at 9:00 am was quite possibly the best decision (& actually a late start for me typically). Don’t let September fool you, the temperatures are still scorching and there’s several spots along this trail where there is little to no coverage from the ball of hot fire.

From the Vic Haun Trail, we headed directly up the Temelpa. I’m pretty sure I got dizzy from the amount of switchbacks along this trail- although I’m guessing it makes it a far more bearable climb than heading STRAIGHT up! We survived the switchbacks and made it to small parking lot, where we took off the main path, climbed what seemed like 500 flights of stairs and came to the Lookout at the top of East Peak. I seriously CANNOT get over the views from the top.

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We got to the top just before a Girl’s Track Team from Colorado. Apparently instead of hiking to the top, you are also able to drive most of the way to the East Peak summit and park in the small parking lot and hike about 1/2 a mile to the views. I forgot what it’s like to be a highschool teenager, but I can’t imagine it’s anywhere near the same experience I had, since I didn’t have a cell phone…It was a little depressing to see so many girls’ out in nature, with their phones in their hands the whole time… One young teen had also mastered the gift of texting and hiking while successfully missing out on the views and mountain experience.

After completing the obstacle course back to the trail (seriously teenage girls’ and their phones DON’T move out of the way), we hit the main trail and made our way to the West Point Inn.  I am so in love with this quaint Inn. From the porch of the Inn you have views of the whole Bay, the Headlands, the Pacific Ocean and one of the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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The Inn is secluded along the ridge and had an “honor system” bar of drinks and small snacks. The Inn does rent rooms for $50 a night, which would be an awesome way to escape the city for a short retreat. Outside the Inn we had to stop and play some horseshoes and apparently I am a horseshoe pro!

After leaving the Inn, we began the descent back down Mt. Tam. We took the fern creek trail  to the old railroad grade then hit the nora trail which brought us back out to the parking lot across from The Mountain Home Inn. As we were coming down these trails, there was far more coverage from the sun but I was still glad I brought my HUGE bottle of water. There were several hikers heading up this way, who I felt extremely upset for- they looked far too hot to be trying to reach the top during the hottest part of the afternoon!

Of course, once we hit the parking lot we were famished and headed directly into the Mountain Home Inn where I had the best burger of my life! They were having a slight bee problem outside, so it was hard to enjoy the views and food while being surrounded by about fifteen swarming bees. Somehow I managed to sneak my burger inside successfully without being stung. My friend obviously had to try the grilled cheese (which was a good grilled cheese, but far from the best I’ve ever had). They did have sweet potato fries though, which are basically the best thing on the planet and I’m sure that wasn’t just because I had finished a 7-mile hike.

We finished the hike & lunch by 1:00 in the afternoon which left plenty of time for friends, family, cornhole and bbqs.

So now do you see why San Francisco holds a special spot in this heart of mine?

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