Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mt Tam - Mtn Home-Troop 80 loop

Hike Route: Hogback Fire Road =>Matt Davis trail => Bootjack => Troop 80 => Alice Eastwood Road

There are a ton of different Mt Tam hikes you can take, four other good ones are listed in the book, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco. On this day, we were looking for a basic Mt Tam hike as neither of us had hiked this side of Mt Tam before. My sister suggested this basic loop route, so we took it.

I searched a couple sites for a good trail map of the area and found the NPS Muir Woods Map, and the California State Park Map of Mt Tam. Neither of these really show the route very well, but State Park Map is the better one -- its just a bit too detailed and sometimes hard to read.

This hike is a great intro loop hike of Mt Tam, you get some great views of the Bay and Muir Woods. Plus the route crosses a number of creeks and lots of spots of wildflowers (depending on the season). However, if its really foggy some views will be limited.

The hike starts at the Mountain Home parking lot (No fee) which is at 920 feet in elevation. There are about 25 parking spots - prepare to come early to grab one of these if going on a weekend. Be sure to catch the great view from the Mountain Home Inn across the street. (You can also connect with this hike at Bootjack picnic/parking lot further up the Panaoramic Highway- note there is a day use fee at the Bootjack location.)

So after heading north out of the Parking Lot, cross Panoramic Highway and look for the road leading to the Throckmorton Fire Station. There is a three way intersection here -- we took the lower trail (Gravity Car Grade) and quickly wound up going the wrong way. Many thanks to a couple hikers who got us headed on the correct trail. So instead of the downhill trail -- either head on the uphill trail around the Fire station or walk on the road to the Fire station.

After the fire station look for the wide Hogback Fire Road leading uphill.

After short distance from the Fire Station on the Hogback Fire Road, the Matt Davis Trail leads up and off to the Left. There is a clear sign at this intersection.

The Matt Davis trail has some great views of Marin and even San Francisco when you break out in the open - at least half the trail is in the shade, which is good on hot days. There is one tricky intersection on the Matt Davis trail with the Nora trail. This is a left or right intersection before a bridge. The trail marker has been pulled out of the ground here and was pointed in the wrong direction (we corrected it).

In any case, be sure to turn left and cross the bridge at this point toward BootJack picnic area.

Upon reaching the BootJack picnic area (1350 feet elevation), you can continue on the Matt Davis trail to make a larger loop via the TCC Trail at the Pantoll Area (1500 feet elevation) (stay to the right of the Picnic/Parking lot area). Or for this hike just cross the road and continue on the Bootjack trail spur across the street.

From this point forward there aren't many views until you reach close to the Mtn Home area. However, you do pass through the Van Wyck Meadow and cross a couple creeks - Rattlesnake Creek and Spike Buck Creek.

Soon you will meet up with the Troop 80 trail - turn left at this point to head back to the Mtn. Home parking lot. You will be close to the Panoramic Highway at this point so you do hear some cars -- but its not too bad.

The troop 80 trail oddly ends on a paved road (The Alice Eastwood Road) basically at Fern Creek. This intersection is not well shown on available Maps, but just remember to turn left up the paved road.

There is a great spot on the right side of the paved Alice Eastwood road that provides some great shots over looking the area below. Soon after this spot you will soon see a sign for the Trestle Trail - head up this very short trail to the Mtn. Home parking lot.


View Mt. Home Parking Lot in a larger map

Area - Mount Tamalpais State Park and Marin Municipal Water District
Trails - Hogback Fire Road => Matt Davis trail => Bootjack => Troop 80 => Alice Eastwood Road
Map - Mt Tam State Park Map (ok, but too detailed), Muir Woods Trail Map(shows second half the route)
Length - about 3 miles Loop easy-moderate hike
Trail - Dirt Trail and paved road (for a short part)
Dogs - Not on all the trails
Bikes - No
Views - Views of Muir Woods, San Francisco, and Tiburon in a couple spots
Getting There (Car) - US101 North, Exit the Highway 1 Mill Valley/Stinson Beach), Follow signs for Highway 1 north, Turn right on Panoramic Highway (look for Mt Tam sign). After a twisty 2.5 miles, you reach the Mountain Home Inn -- the parking lot is on the Left.
Getting There (Transit) - You can take Marin Transit Route 61 from Marin City to reach the Mtn Home Inn (Panoramic & Edgewood). Note this is a small bus and runs about every two hours during the weekend non-winter season.
Fee - No fee at this parking lot - but it will fill quickly on weekends
Weather - A few open sunny spots, otherwise almost all in the shade
Other Trails - Lots in the Marin Municipal Water District's Mt. Tamalpais Watershed, Mt Tam State Park and Muir Woods National Monument
Facilities - restrooms at the Mtn Home trailhead/parking lot - there is also a restroom at the Bootjack picnic area