Trail: WELCOME TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD – Mount Tamalpais Summit


After Paying the Toll, the summit of Mount Tamalpais is almost within reach.  The last stage of the Mt. Tam assent is grueling and sometimes just plain cruel! The steepness of the first mile will push you to your limits before you reach the first of three peaks.  At the summit, take a breath, enjoy the view and brace yourself for a tough climb back to the first peak before you make the descent back to the Bay.

Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail) 27.42 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 12.99 miles; from Somewhere Over the Rainbow 8.91 miles; from A Panoramic View 4.42 miles; from Paying the Toll 2.99 miles

Difficulty: If you’re not prepared for a tough slog back from the summit as well, you might be spending the night on the mountain!

Climbing on Route: 630 feet (192 meters)

Total Elevation Gain from Marin Crossroads: 2641 feet (805 meters)

Download your route sheet here: Directions – Welcome to the Top of the World

Download your route sheet for the entire Mount Tamalpais Route here: Directions – There and Back Again

FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK click here for the full Geoped Map provided by g-map-pedometer.com.

Elevation Map for the Route provided by MapMyRide.com

From the top of Paying the Toll, make a right onto East Ridgecrest Boulevard and follow it all the way to the third peak which is the summit of Mount Tamalpais.

Make a right onto East Ridgecrest Boulevard to Summit Mt. Tam

The first peak is the hardest to reach.  This peak is next to the Doppler Radar station at the top of a 1.25 mile climb.  Though less steep than the climbs on Pan Toll Road, this first climb is lengthy and difficult. By the time you finish the first climb, your legs will be Jello!

View from the top of the first peak

Make sure to pause at this first peak and take in the views of Mill Valley below.  Get some energy back as you take the first descent and start making the climb toward the next peak.

Stand and push up the second climb and take another break at the top of the second peak.

The view from the second peak gives you better views of Tiburon and Sausalito

From the top of the second peak, the views of Tiburon and Sausalito get closer.  One last peak to climb before heading back.

Another short descent and the last peak is all that stands between you and the summit.  The last climb is steep.  Once you make it to the summit, take in the views and know you’ve climbed over 2,500 feet on your way to this point!

View of Tiburon, Belvedere, Strawberry, Mill Valley and Sausaltio from the summit of Mount Tamalpais

On a clear day, you can see San Francisco, East Bay and all over Marin County from the summit of Mount Tamalpais.  At over 2,500 feet in altitude, you can see above the fog as it rolls over San Francisco Bay.

The historic Mt. Tam Fire Lookout and Ranger Station

At the summit, you can lock up your bikes and take a stroll up the stairs to the Fire Lookout and Ranger Station.  On a clear day, you can see not only San Francisco and East Bay, but also out to the Farallon Islands (to the west and 25 miles off-shore in the Pacific Ocean) and it’s even been reported that you can see the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada range 150 miles to the east.  At the parking lot, there are bathrooms and a water fountain at the top so you can relieve and refill.  Enjoy your time at the summit, because once you are ready to go, you have more hill climbing awaiting.

Elevation Map for the Route provided by MapMyRide.com

Another 300 feet of climbing over two more hills looms once you leave the summit of the third peak.  The return to the second peak is a breeze compared to the climb back to the first peak.  The climb to the west peak is almost a half-mile long and is very steep.  Push through this tough climb and then it’s all down hill from there.

Once you’ve gone there and back again, the summit of Mt. Tam allows you have options of where to go next.  You can continue on Ridgecrest Boulevard and head towards Fairfax-Bolinas Road, or you can turn back down Pan Toll Road and go to Mill Valley or Sausalito. If you’re feeling particularly adventerous that day, you can even head to Stinson Beach from where A Panoramic View and Paying the Toll meet. No matter which way you decide to go, after reaching the summit of Mount Tamalpais, you have entered a club with others who have pushed themselves to conquer this beast! Enjoy the journey, but make sure to stop and enjoy the view as well.

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Trail: PAYING THE TOLL — Mount Tamalpais Stage 3


Pan Toll Road the shortest stage of the climb to the summit of Mount Tamalpais, but it’s also the toughest. The route is full of relentless double-digit grade assents.  If you are looking to test your grit and stamina, this is the place to do it.  Once you pass the first mile, you can stop and break for some pictures of the sweeping views around you and then press on through the last half-mile of the stage.  At the end of the trail you feel as major sense of accomplishment because you know you’ve made it through one bad ass climb!

Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail) 24.43 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 10.00 miles; from Somewhere Over the Rainbow 5.92 miles; from A Panoramic View 1.43

Difficulty: HC (hors catégorie) aka this would be a steep climb on the Tour de France! 

Climbing on Route: 531 feet (171 meters)

Total Elevation Gain from Marin Crossroads: 2011 feet (649 meters)

Download your route sheet here: Directions – Paying the Toll

Download your route sheet for the entire Mount Tamalpais Route here: Directions – There and Back Again

FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK click here for the full Geoped Map provided by g-map-pedometer.com.


Elevation Map for the Route provided by MapMyRide.com

At the crest of Panoramic Highway and the end of A Panoramic View, the summit of Mount Tamalpias still lies four miles away.  Before reaching the top of Mt. Tam, you will have to conquer Pan Toll Road.

To begin the next stage of ascending Mt. Tam, turn right from Panoramic Highway onto Pan Toll Road.

Pan Toll Road is the entrance to Mount Tamalpais State Park.

The first section of climbing is step with very little shoulder room, so watch out for the passing by.

Gradient looking toward Panoramic Highway at the turn onto Pan Toll  Road

You will get a slight reprieve from the constant climbing and the road will level off for a short stint before the steep grade returns.  The road turns around corners as the grade changes from gradual to steep to moderate.  Theses series of turns will take you to the one mile marker of the route where you are presented with your first opportunity to break.

Steep climbs and sweeping turns typify the climb along Pan Toll Road

The first rest area is a great place to take pictures of your adventure and to rehydrate.

A vista with a view of the climbing you have just completed and the Pacific Ocean

The road to come is the steepest and toughest climbing of the stage

The last part of the climb is short, but extremely steep all the way to Ridgecrest Boulevard.

There is one more rest area along the last section of the climb.  This is a good place to stop if you need a short break. At the end of the climb along Pan Toll Road you will reach Rock Spring.

Rock Spring is at an elevation of 1940 feet above sea level.  The slight descent along Panoramic Highway increases the total elevation gain from Marin Crossroad to over 2000 feet! Once you reach this point, you can either turn left onto West Ridgecrest Boulevard and  take in the spectacular views of Stinson Beach and Bolinas below, or turn right onto East Ridgecrest Boulevard and begin the final stage of ascending Mount Tamalpais.

Reaching the top of Pan Toll road is no small feet, with over 2000 feet of climbing, conquering this advanced route is what many Bay Area bikers do when they are up for a challenge and want a spectacular descent as their reward.  The steep climbing turns into steep descending with technical twists and turns as you make your way back to Mill Valley or Sausalito.

Trail: A PANORAMIC VIEW – Mount Tamalpais, Part 2


The second stage of the Mount Tamalpais climb contains some of the most breathtaking views in Western Marin County.  Follow Panoramic Highway as it winds and climbs from Sequoia Valley Road to Pan Toll Road.  Topping out at just over 1500 feet, climbing the 6.5 miles to the crest of Panoramic Highway is an achievement alone. No matter what direction you choose to go next, you’ll feel like a rockstar when you arrive!

Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail) 23.00 miles; from the Marin Crossroads 8.57 miles; from Somewhere Over the Rainbow 4.49 miles

Difficulty: If you think you can huff it out with some of the Bay Area’s seasoned cyclists, give it a shot!

Climbing on Route: 925 feet (298 meters)

Total Elevation Gain from Marin Crossroads: 1529 feet (493 meters)

Download your route sheet here: Directions – A Panoramic View

Download your route sheet for the entire Mount Tamalpais Route here: Directions – There and Back Again

FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK click here for the full Geoped Map provided by g-map-pedometer.com.


Elevation Map for the Route provided by MapMyRide.com

 

At the end of Sequoia Valley Road, turn right on Panoramic Highway.

After a brief break from climbing as you pass the Yoga on the Mountain sign, a half mile of very tough climbing begins.

Yoga on the Mountain at the Muir Woods Community Center

The climbing begins

The initial two hills are broken up by a short flat where you have your first views of the valleys below.

Passing over the valleys and climbing through the mist

The second climb, as you reach the curve signs, you are almost there

At the top of the second climb you reach the only descent on this stage.  Enjoy this pedal-free section as you take in spectacular views.  The fog will break and views of the peaks around Mt. Tam and Muir Woods below will open.  Though the route is sparsely populated, the Mountain Home Inn sits about halfway through this part of the trail.

Take a break and glide down the descent

If it starts out foggy, you

 

The peaks around Mt. Tam start to appear at this point along Panoramic Highway.

Muir Woods is visible in the valley below

Mountain Home Inn

If you are seeking a break or food before the next part of the assent, the Mountain Home Inn is a great place to stop and eat lunch.  Amazing views of Mill Valley, Strawberry and Tiburon await you at the outdoor seating.

Follow the sign and keep climbing along Panoramic Highway.  The next mile and a half of the route takes twists and turns through the woods.  With flat to moderate climbing along this section you can pick up the pace.

You will notice the beginning of the major climb when you start slowing down and your legs begin to burn.  This last mile and a half of the route is a tough, steep slog through the woods up to the crest of Panoramic Highway.  Bootjack picnic area signals the last quarter mile of the climb.

At Mount Tamalpais State Park, Panoramic Highway reaches its peak and signifies the end of this section of the Mt. Tam trail.

Entrance of Mount Tamalpais State Park

To the left, the descent to Stinson Beach. To the right, Pan Toll road and a continued assent of Mount Tamalpais looms.

With the final climb on Panoramic Highway over, you have a few options of what to do next. If a descent is calling your name, you can take a break, enjoy the spectacular descent into Stinson Beach and the views that go along with it.  Just remember that what goes down, must climb back up.  If your legs are still feeling strong, there are two more stages of climbing to summit Mt. Tam.  Watch for our trail “Paying the Toll” detailing this assent coming soon.

If you are done climbing, the descent back to Sausalito down Panoramic Highway is seven fast and furious miles of twists and turns skimming the ridge above Muir Woods.  You’ll easily keep up with the 30 mph speed limit and only be slowed down by the Sunday drivers.