Best of Marin & San Francisco 2019 - Sold Out

Best of Marin & San Francisco 2019

Sept. 9-14

6 days/5 nights

Rating: Moderate

Max Capacity: 25

$595 Non-Member Price

$570 Coastwalk Member Price

Immerse in the wildness and history of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the urban delights of San Francisco. Lodge in the Marin Headlands Hostel and camp in the Presidio and Tennessee Valley. View WW 2 artifacts, explore the dramatic Point Bonita Lighthouse, walk the trails at Mt. Tamalpais, and tour the Marine Mammal Center. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, experience San Francisco’s rugged shoreline, ramble through historic neighborhoods and learn about the cultural and military history of the Presidio. 


The Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Mount Tamalpais State Park: 

Trip Includes: 

Camping, lodging & parking fees; guided hiking; dinners, hot water/coffee & light breakfast fixings; gear haul; shuttle transportation 

Make Sure to Bring: 

Lunches & snacks & pocket money for San Francisco coffee shops. A more detailed packing list will be provided to hikers once registered, along with more details about trip logistics. 

Average Daily Hiking: 

6 to 11 miles per day; total hiking of 45 miles 

Types of Hiking Surfaces: 

Dirt or gravel trails, soft sandy beaches, some rocks and irregular terrain 

Elevation Gains & Losses: 

Hikes are almost all at or near sea level, with days of elevation gains of 1000 ft. or less and one moderately strenuous day of 3000 ft. elevation gain. 

Fitness Requirements: 

Must be able to hike up to 10 miles per day over 6 consecutive days. 

Directions to Marin Hostel:

Please arrive by noon so we can check into the hostel, get oriented, and do introductions.

*Drive US 101 northbound from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, or south past Sausalito to the last exit before the bridge. 

Exit Alexander Avenue and head north toward Sausalito. About 200 yards after the interchange, turn left on Bunker Road toward the Marin Headlands/Fort Cronkite. Wait for the green light (1-5 minutes) to drive through the one-lane tunnel; continue down Bunker Road about 3 miles. Turn left on Field Road, signed for the visitor center, which is located in the old post chapel. Turn left again in 50 yards following signs to the hostel. Passing the big old wooden barracks of Headlands Center for the Arts, take the upper road and park just past the hostel (the first building after the road splits). Where exactly we park for the rest of the week will be nearby, per instructions for the hostel staff.

Day 1: Monday, September 9th

12 noon: Arrive at Marin Headlands Hostel via car or public transportation.* Our vehicles will remain here for the duration of the hike.  

Hike Description: 4 miles round trip, moderate grades, on trails and roads.

After introductions and getting settled, we will take an afternoon hike and ranger tour of the Point Bonita lighthouse, which is dramatically located at the edge of the Golden Gate, and get oriented to Rodeo Lagoon, the visitor center, and historic coastal defenses.


Day 2: Tuesday, September 10th

Hike Description: This is our longest, most strenuous day:  11.7 miles +1200 feet/-3000 ft. elevation change, mostly on good trails and fire roads; 1/2 mile of roadside walking.

Our hike starts at the Mountain Theater, a rustic stone amphitheater built in the 1930s (still used for the annual Mountain Play). The nearby hilltops offer grand views toward San Francisco and the Golden Gate. We descend down the Coast View Trail, which offers views of the rocky coast and rolling ridges to reach scenic Muir Beach. A strenuous climb on the Coastal Trail takes us high above the rocky shore and Pirates Cove, then down to Tennessee Cove at 10 miles. The final 1.7 miles up Tennessee Valley follow a gentle ranch road past several dairy ranches. We arrive at Haypress Campground in time to set up our tents and enjoy a delicious dinner. Gear will be transported and waiting for you at Haypress.

Day 3: Wednesday, September 11th

Hike Description: 7 miles, mostly on trails and fire roads, plus 1-2 rustic stairways. Moderate grades with a few steep stretches.  (+1500 ft. /-1400 ft. elevation change)

Hike over Wolf Ridge to Rodeo Beach and back to the Marin Headlands Hostel. View historic Nike missile and WWII artillery sites, and spectacular, still-flowery coastal scrub habitat with dramatic coastal views. Descending into Rodeo Valley we’ll stop by the Marine Mammal Center for a tour of their rescue/research facilities, and saunter across the valley to the hostel in time for refreshments, dinner, and hot showers! 

Day 4: Thursday, September 12th

Hike Description: 7 to 7.5 miles, +1500 ft. /-1300 ft. elevation change (mostly in the morning). A mix of trails, fire roads, sidewalks, and bike paths; 2-3 stairways.

Hawk Hill hike (a renowned hawk migration stopover) with spectacular overlook of the Golden Gate Bridge. We’ll cross this spectacular, orange bridge over the shifting waters, into San Francisco. Pausing at the historical and engineering exhibits at the south vista point, we’ll amble another mile south through the historic Presidio army post, to Rob Hill Group camp, in time for refreshments and another tasty dinner. Campground has no showers but great restrooms in a eucalyptus grove. 

Day 5: Friday, September 13th

Hike Description: 7.5 miles, easy-to-moderate; on sidewalks, trails, stairways, and firm, sandy beach.

After a leisurely camp breakfast we’ll saunter south from Rob Hill campground along the Coastal Trail, past Bakers Beach, & the ornate mansions of the Seacliff neighborhood. We round craggy Lands’ End and pass the ruins of Sutro Baths. Past the Cliff House we saunter 3 miles south along broad Ocean Beach, dipping into the adjacent Sunset District, which has a beach-town feel (and good coffee). We’ll share the beach with small birds, sand dollars, surfers, runners, and dog-walkers. Next we hop the streetcar for an impromptu MUNI tour of San Francisco’s western neighborhoods, including Golden Gate Park. At the end of the line it’s just over a mile walk (uphill but scenic) back to Rob Hill campground.

Day 6: Saturday, September 14th

Hike Description: 4-5 miles, +600 ft. /-600 ft. elevation change, on easy trails and bike paths.

Start the day with a leisurely breakfast, breaking camp, and then a stroll around the Presidio. A military base under 3 flags from 1776 to 1992, it is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, with old barracks reused as museums and offices; residential neighborhoods in old military housing, and restored natural areas on the edge of San Francisco’s neighborhoods. We’ll pass by the National Cemetery, an historic spring, the Officers Club museum and parade ground, and vistas of San Francisco Bay. We’ll return along the Bay Trail promenade to the Golden Gate Bridge in early afternoon, where we’ll transport back to the Marin Headlands, bid each other farewell, & return to our cars for the trip home. We’ll have you on the road by about 2 PM. 

Space in the gear van/trailer is limited; we will pack as many larger items (compact camp chairs, etc.) as fit along with our required gear

  • Tent, sleeping pad, & sleeping bag for Haypress and Rob Hill campgrounds

      *** (Hostel provides sheets, blankets, and pillows but does not allow sleeping bags).

  • Walking stick(s) recommended for days 2-4.
  • Comfortable walking shoes and socks, with good traction. 
  • Sun protection (hat, long sleeves, sun screen).
  • Layered clothing; dress for sun, fog, wind, and a little drippy weather, perhaps all in the same day.
  • Duffel bag or soft luggage for stuff that stays in the gear van, versus your day pack.
  • Day pack for hiking.
  • Reusable Water Bottle-2 liters of water per person, per day, recommended for the longer hikes.
  • Small bills and coins for bus fare, or MUNI phone app or Clipper card for 2 bus/transit segments. (Bus fare is $2.75 cash, $1.50 senior/youth)
  • A little spending money for coffee or snacks in SF neighborhoods. 
  • Flashlight or Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Breakfast and lunch fixings. Coastwalk provides coffee, tea, milk, and hot water at breakfast. We will have coolers 
  • Cell phones are helpful, though in rural, lowland Marin, including at the hostel, there is not reliable cell service

Jack Leutza: Jack will be your on-site coordinator for the entire trip. Jack has been leading trips with Coastwalk for many years. He is the head of the San Francisco team. Recently he has become a Master Gardener. Jack and his wife live in Petaluma, CA. 

Ben Pease: Ben is a cartographer and trail advocate. He publishes detailed trail maps of San Francisco, Marin County, and the San Mateo  coast.  He has lived in San Francisco since 1976 and has co-led the San Francisco Coastwalk since 1988.




Richard & Brenda Nichols: Richard and Brenda have been volunteering at Coastwalk since 1982. During that time, they organized and led walks and performed various administrative functions. Richard became the Executive Director of Coastwalk in 1990 and retired in 2006. As Executive Director, he played a pivotal role in the passing of SB 908-the key legislation which established the California Coastal Trail as a State Trail.  Richard coordinated and completed the first border to border Coastwalk in 1996 and subsequently authored with Bob Lorentzen 2 comprehensive guides on hiking the California Coastal Trail. Brenda provided support for Coastwalk while also working in administration at the SRJC Disability Resources department and retired in 2008. 

When they moved to Sonoma County, the Nichols discovered the wild and beautiful coast and met the first organizers of Coastwalk. The goal of the first walk in Sonoma County in 1983 was to promote the idea that the coastal access is for everyone, and the shoreline needs to be protected from pollution and overdevelopment. The California Coastal Trail became an important symbol and a concrete example of coastal access and under the Nichol’s leadership, the stewardship and completion of the CCT became a primary goal of Coastwalk.  
Brenda & Richard make their home on the outskirts of Sebastopol and continue to be involved in local politics and the environment. They co-founded the advocacy group Sebastopol Tomorrow, and were early advocates for saving and restoring the Laguna de Santa Rosa. They have worked to elect City Council and County Supervisor candidates who reflected their desires for a healthy environment and controlled growth. 
Brenda & Richard are avid hikers and travelers, enjoy music and film. They are currently attending memoir writing class compiling stories of their exciting travels & environmental and social justice advocacy histories.  

I was born to a mom that loved taking her dogs for long walks. It was the 50’s & 60’s and San Francisco was a much less “developed” area, offering large areas to hike or drive to one of the many open coastal properties nearby for a daily 4-6-mile walk. My dad would arrange family gatherings and camping adventures throughout the Western United States. I then spent 24 years flying Air Force Cargo Aircraft around the world which afforded me access to hiking and camping opportunities throughout the globe so that I was able to hike on every continent-including Antarctica! Alone, with family or like-minded groups I have spent my years with a love of the outdoors. I spent 20 years as a RN at medical, surgical, oncology hospitals units.  I joined Coastwalk several years ago for another opportunity to discover new hiking and camping experiences and have been a Chuckwagon Wrangler supporting Coastwalks in almost every coastal county. This is my first year as a Walk Leader & organizer and I look forward to sharing some of my favorite hiking areas with like-minded friends & coastal enthusiasts”.