There is always a dilemma, do you spread the word about a great place or keep quiet so others don’t intrude. Well it’s too late for Marin County’s Tennessee Valley. Any given weekend will find hordes of joggers, hikers, seniors, horseback riders and families hiking the trails of this Bay Area gem.
Nestled in Tam Valley, a part of Mill Valley, this spot is easily accessible by San Franciscans and Marinites alike. Over the years we have taken hard core hikes with friends, leisurely walks with visitors from out of town and quickie visits to get fresh air and bask in the beautiful scenery. If I were a visitor from abroad or out of town, this would be a great day trip to get a flavor of the tremendous wealth of the Bay Area hiking scene. I was there twice in April. Once with my two boys for a free, annual Easter egg hunt at the Horse Stables adjacent to the trail, and once with my close friend as a birthday treat. We took a 4 mile hike to the Pelican Inn, on the Coastal Trail, and had a scrumptious lunch at the pub and then a less strenuous 3 mile hike back; all in all a perfect day.
Years ago we used to meet friends at the Dipsea Café, right where the road to Tennessee Valley turns off Shoreline Highway. We would eat a big breakfast and then hike; always a good option after the trail too! Depending on the season the flora and fauna are stupendous…deer, lizards, the occasional mountain lion, all sorts of birds, butterflies and wildflowers that never fail to please.
With the slower lot, kids, grandparents, non-hikers, the flat-ish route to the beach is perfect. You can picnic on the beach and still feel like you got a good walk in. My 71-year-old mom, who does a lot of city walking in New York, felt it was a tad strenuous, but once completed she raved! There are plenty of the more rigorous routes along the coast and towards the Headlands. If you forget to pack a picnic there is often a farm produce stand open just as you turn onto the road. The parking lot can be crowded!