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Hike: Marin Headlands, Hill 88

See Pieces of the Areas Military History at Hill 88

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Located almost next door to Sausalito, the Marin Headlands (a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area) offers scenic spots for get-togethers, gentle hikes along the Pacific Ocean, and historical and educational sites scattered throughout the preserved natural areas. Many visitors to the Marin Headlands come in from Sausalito specifically for these historic and educational excursions and the unique setting in which they exist.

Visiting the Headlands for a pleasant afternoon hike can be both a great exercise activity and a historical outing, and many hikers come out to visit the many decommissioned military sites that still lie along the coast in this portion of the North Bay Area. From larger gun emplacements along the Ocean side of the Marin Headlands like Batteries Spencer Wallace, and Townsley to the radio and radar installations such as Hill 88, the ghost towns of World War Two and the Cold War dot the hillsides and give visitors a glimpse into the regions storied wartime past.

Hiking to Hill 88

The hike out to Hill 88 is a pleasant exercise jaunt that takes hikers up a short incline to views out over the Pacific Ocean, over Rodeo Lagoon, and the surrounding area. Starting at the Rodeo Beach parking lot, hikers traverse the hillside and will begin and end their adventure. Rodeo Beach itself is the perfect place for a lunch and relaxation spot either before or after your short hike and can be accessed from the parking lot as well.

Starting out up the hill, hikers will Head uphill on the Coastal Trail and begin the climb. The upwards hike is not all that long or steep, but many find that taking the climb slowly and appreciating the changing view is one of the best parts of this outing. Following the clear trail gets a bit tricky in a few spots, but discerning the proper track to follow as the trail flows through several doglegs is not difficult.

After following the Coastal Trail out and along the ridge, you will soon come to a fork down which you cans see the emplacement at Hill 88. Take the right hand trail in the fork and note that you will be returning this direction shortly to rejoin the Wolf Ridge Trail.

Hill 88’s deserted buildings are a favorite to visitors of the Headlands area and the emptiness and ghost town feeling seem to intrigue everyone who visits this spot. Take a look at the remaining equipment footings, empty buildings, and tower and use the on-site educational panels to help your imagination build out the scene and see what it was like for the enlisted men stationed here during the working life of this emplacement.

To head back and finish the hike, simply head back out to the junction and turn right onto Wolf Ridge Trail. After a short distance, you will come to a clearly marked intersection with Miwok Trail. Turn right and follow the Miwok Trail downhill to its intersection with Bunker Road. Following Bunker Road, you will pass by renovated military era buildings and Rodeo Lagoon. Stay left at the junction of Bunker Road and Mitchell Road and you will soon find yourself back at the parking area where you began.

Although short and not overly strenuous, this hike is a great way to get out and enjoy a bit of the history of the Marin Headlands, bring the children and the entire family, or just to relax and enjoy the views.



View Marin Headlands: Hill 88 in a larger map
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Photos copyright by Jay Graham Photographer
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