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Hiking Options in Sausalito

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Outdoor enthusiasts and camera buffs often enjoy a leisurely hike through nature-filled locations around Sausalito. In the San Francisco Bay area, there are hills, valleys and historical sites to see that can only be reached on foot. Alcatraz Island, Muir Woods and other well-advertised Marin County locations offer a variety of structured hiking trails that are designed for daytime outings. Trails include options for all skill-levels and ages.

Hiking in Sausalito:

Alcatraz Island: During fall and wintertime months, Alcatraz Island opens its Agave Trail for all ages of visitors to enjoy. This half-mile trail meanders through the beautiful remains of the prison-time gardens that were started on the island during the 1930s. The Agave Trail meets ADA accessibility requirements; family-oriented hikes with young family members are encouraged and planned for in the safety-trail design.

The Agave Trail is only open to visitors during chilly months due to the nesting routines of the island inhabitants. Alcatraz Island has always been used by migrating birds as an important nesting location that allows a safe place for birds to raise their young. During the 1930s, this trail area was planted with agave plants, rock roses, seaside daisies, fig trees and a wide variety of other plants that have matured and multiplied over the years.

Muir Woods: Muir Woods is a spectacular old-growth redwood forest that is under National Park Service guardianship. Inside of Muir Woods and along adjacent properties, there are a series of hiking trails that provide magnificent scenery, quiet solitude and options that provide admirable healthy-lifestyle workouts. The Muir Woods location offers a visitor center, educational displays, clean bathrooms and a restaurant.

Inside of all National Parks, it is illegal to remove any natural element. This rule provides the people who are hiking along the Muir Woods trails a pristine experience from the surrounding environment. Hikers see wildlife, a wide variety of native plants and settings that can include rarities that are not found outside of the National Park protective zones. Muir Woods opens each morning at 8:00 a.m., and closes in the evening near dusk.

The historic Hillside Trail is a favorite hiking location for people of all ages. This trail follows along the canyon wall above Cathedral Grove. The Cathedral Grove section of the park is very quiet due to the density of the redwoods. This awesome trail is mostly horizontal in nature, without hilly climbs. Families can normally navigate this looping trail in less than two hours. Strollers are not recommended and jackets come in handy.

Marin Headlands: The Marin Headlands section of Sausalito is a favorite hiking location that offers a variety of trails that are suitable for older children, teens and adults to explore. Comfortable walking shoes are needed, backpacks for jackets and snacks are recommended and parents need a first aide kit for unexpected skinned knees or walking blisters. Before starting hikes, experts recommend telling friends where you are going.

The City of Sausalito is full of surprises. Across the street from the ferryboat docks there is a set of stairs carved into the hillside. Like Dorothy following her yellow brick road, hikers can climb hidden stairways to reach the start of the Marin Headlands trails. Before school busses arrived in Sausalito, hidden stairways were cut into the hillsides, all over town to give young children approved shortcut routes up and down the steep hillsides.

The Sausalito hidden stairway route into Marin Headlands:

- From the street-edge of the Sausalito Ferry Service parking lot, cross Bridgeway and turn left, walk until you reach the small park. Find the unmarked North Street stairs and climb until you reach the intersection of North Street and Josephine.

- Walk on North Street until the sharp left turn in the road. Find the marked Cable Roadway stairs that go straight up. Turn right at the top and walk to Sausalito Avenue; turn left. The Cable Roadway combination stairs and pathway on the right side of this road will continue upward past private homes and driveways.

- When the Cable Roadway stairs end, follow the paved road to the T-shaped intersection and onto Prospect Avenue. Stay on Prospect Avenue until it ends, the next stairway can be found on the right side of the road. When the stairs become a dirt path, you can see the road that goes over the freeway: that is not your road. The sign reads ‘Private Property’.

- Find the ‘down’ stairs on your right. Go down the stairs towards the Fire Department and cross the road to be on the Fire Department side of the road. Turn left and walk to Monte Mar Street at the corner. Turn right. You will be walking on the shoulder of a road, use caution. Walk until you reach the underpass, at this point there is a sidewalk on the other side of the road.

- Walk under the freeway and watch for the parking lot on the right side of the road. The Morning Sun trailhead is found after the road curves around the parking lot. Use caution in this area; cars are speeding up to access the freeway. Go up the Morning Sun stairs and walk for about one-quarter mile on the Morning Sun Trail. Turn left at the end of the trail and walk on the fire road.

- Watch for a big metal gate on the left and the junction that is well marked with private property signs. Turn right. Walk on this service road until the narrow trail on the left. Follow the signs for the Rodeo Valley Trail that veers right and downward into the valley. At the Bunker Road tunnel, take the road on the left down and past a marked equestrian ranch.

- At the crossroads, take the connection path on the left. The right path leads up Bobcat Trail; you need the left little path instead. Almost instantly, turn right onto Miwok Trail and start to climb upwards for about one-mile, following the trail. Watch for Wolf Ridge Trail on your left. Stop at Wolf Ridge Trail and admire the other walking possibilities that can be saved for another day.

- Stay on the Miwok Trail past the Old Springs Trail on the left. Walk past the unmarked path on the right that leads towards a gated location. Stay left and follow the Bobcat Trail sign for about one-mile. The Marincello Trail will join your trail from the right. Walk past the trail to Hawk Camp on your right.

- At the crossroads, turn left. Walk a few steps to Alta Trail, turn right. Follow Alta Trail for about one-half mile and you will be back at the Morning Sun Trail crossroads that you have been on before. There is a very nice view/photography spot at this location that is nice to explore before starting home, using the same route that you arrived on.

Other Options: The Marin Headlands hiking locations can also be reached by car. Loosely follow the directions above to find the parking lot that is located beside the freeway. Follow the walking directions until the point where hiking trails are visible to be saved for another day. Enjoy exploring the obvious options available in this scenic Sausalito location. There are many places that offer excellent photography opportunities.

The Golden Gate Bridge: Many Sausalito residents and visitors choose to do a city-style hike across the Golden Gate Bridge. This famous bridge spans 1.7 miles across the San Francisco Bay and into the Fisherman’s Wharf section of San Francisco. After hiking across the bridge, families often enjoy boarding a ferryboat water-taxi for their return trip to the City of Sausalito. Ferry Services are available until dusk each day.

The weather conditions in the San Francisco Bay areas can change rapidly due to the expanse of water. Whenever people are going to be outside, it is always wise to dress in layered clothing to be ready for all possibilities. Marin County and the City of Sausalito have very strict leash laws that must be followed by people who are hiking with pets. It is possible to find detailed maps online that show all local Sausalito hiking trails in detail.

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Photos copyright by Jay Graham Photographer