What’s Best: Quick access from central Marin to a dramatic beach, and hikes up to the high, open ridges on either side of this narrow coastal valley.


With a good-sized beach, a small lagoon, and wildly sculpted cliffs, Tennessee Valley is a favorite among hikers and joggers. For all hikes, head down the road from the parking lot, which ends at Tennessee Beach. You have an option to take a trail down the center of the valley about a mile into the walk, if this trail is not closed due to flooding. A lagoon just inland from the beach is usually the home for waterfowl and shorebirds. Be Aware: High surf and undertow make swimming and even walking near water’s edge a potential danger.

To Tennessee Beach overlook, take a steep trail up from the north side of the cove, near a bench at the beach. The quick climb of almost 200 feet brings you to a concrete-reinforced bunker. Big ships from the Golden Gate can usually be seen steaming toward Asia. Be Aware: Stay away from unstable cliffs.

To Pirates Cove, a craggy nook in the coastal cliffs between Tennessee and Muir Beach, take the road to Tennessee Beach and turn right, or north, on the Coastal Trail after a mile. After .75-mile, and almost 500 feet of upping, make sure to stay left as the trail contours the coast. After about .5-mile, as the trail dips to its lowest point between two ridges, look for the steep trail down to the cove gravelly and strewn with driftwood.

To get the spectacular views north to Muir Beach on a Coyote Ridge loop, look for a trail junction on your right, about .5-mile from the parking area. Head right on the Fox Trail and ascend almost 800 feet over 1.25 miles to the top. Near the top, you’ll see a left junction with the Coyote Ridge Trail, which is your return route. Backtrack after drinking in the view. After about 1.5 miles of almost steady dropping, you reach the road to Tennessee Beach. You’ll have to watch your footing in places.

Hill 88, named by the military during WWII, sits inland from Tennessee Point, the south entrance to the beach. To make the walk, veer left on the trail in Tennessee Valley that is about a mile from the parking area. After a short distance, turn left, or south, on the Coastal Trail. The trail takes a circuitous and steep route for more than a mile, and then hits Wolf Ridge Trail. From the ridge, jog right and then take a short spur to the top of Hill 88. On clear days you’ll be looking down to Rodeo Beach.

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