Temelpa Trail is a 4.7 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Mill Valley, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
Trail from Summit Ave to East Peak. This is a moderately difficult climb of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California. The top offers an incredible view of the surrounding landscape, this is one of the best views in the Bay Area. The climb is short but has a large elevation gain during the hike.
This is a steady climb with with several flat switchbacks near the top. Some exposure with long stretches of shade. Loose rock and dirt in sections. I parked just below the trailhead. Spectacular views.
If you're not a regular hiker the start will get your lungs pumping, but worth it for the variety of views and lunch spot at the top.
Since it was a Saturday in a historically crowded spot (Mount Tamalpais,) my father and I decided to venture up a less trafficked loop in Temelpa Trail, then complete the loop by heading down a fire road. This was an amazing hike for a variety of reasons, one being you can take your pet on this trail and tire him/her out very quickly.
The trailhead is not marked with gates or maps, just a sign indicating you're going up the correct trail. Parking is scarce. There's one spot a few feet away from the trailhead that can house one car, with another ~50 feet further up the road that can house two cars. There is also strategic parking along the side of Summit Road, but beware that it may be difficult to find space for your car.
Right off the bat, the trail offers an amazing view of Richmond, blanketed by fog in the morning. The first leg is well marked and includes steps to help with the elevation gain. After the first leg, you have a triple junction. The ones off to the left and right are fire roads, while the one in the middle resembles a dried-up, rocky creek. Guess which one this one heads up on!
You'll begin sweating heavily by the time you reach the switchbacks. It'll be hot- 80-85 in the summer- with little shade. It's worth it, however, because you get an amazing view of Richmond, Mount Diablo, and a thick blanket of fog covering the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. The climb will make your calves feel fiery (along with your upper legs, depending on your pace.) Eventually, you'll reach a paved road that leads to the summit.
Heading down, I took a connector to Wheeler Trail. It's [connector trail] marked on the map as an established trail, but it's incredibly narrow with loose rocks. Worse yet, if you fall, you could land on one of the various cockleburs spread throughout the trail. I fell and got a handful of them embedded in my palm. Hurts, but it's part of hiking. The descent on this trail (check my uploaded track to see which trail; I added waypoint) is treacherous when combined with the loose rocks and the washout.
We reached Wheeler trail. The descent is moderate with a few switchbacks and would be very good practice for a casual walker. Bonus: there's a large creek with a trickle of running water (added waypoint for that, too) that you can use to wash the dried sweat off your face. Felt amazing. At the end, we merged back onto Temelpa Trail and completed one of the best hikes in the Bay Area.
Lunch: I recommend stopping by Tony Tutto's Pizza on the way back. Vegan options and very healthy, tasty pizza with various salads and beverages available. One of the best post-hike lunches I've had this year. Have fun hiking, I heavily recommend this trail!
Awesome high peak trail. Lots of elevation gain - not for the casual walker. The better the shoe the better - doing this trail with thin sneakers would have been difficult as there's a lot of rock slides.
We arrived around 10:30 AM while the layer of fog was covering the first half of the trail. Once this burned off it was definitely hot. The first part of the trail has decent elevation gain and is a nice quiet hike. The further up you go when other trails feed in there are quite a few more people you will run into. Don't forget to grab some lunch on the way in at Whole Foods in Mill Valley! Awesome hike but I give it 4/5 due to large crowds at the top.
Great workout! It was more exposed than I expected. Hot day, should have gone earlier.
Great workout up to fire lookout and down back to Summit Rd. If you prefer to stay away from steep terrain and drops this might not be the hike for you. Sitting Bull plaque is worth the trip.
With the years adding up, I only use the last stretch of the Temelpa trail (the last mile or so).
My preferred route starts with the Zig-Zag trail off Cascade Dr in Mill Valley (some fairly steep sections on that trail); from there to the Throckmorton Ridge Fire station and up to the Hoo Koo E Koo trail. That leads me to Old Railroad grade for a few hundred feet and on to the Vic Haun trail. Vic Haun finally t-bones into Temelpa for the last ascent.
I love all the diversity that route has to offer: steep, moderate and somewhat horizontal sections, from deeply wooded areas to fully open slopes; from high Traffic (Verna Dunshee) and well traveled trails (Hoo Koo E Koo, Temelpa) to more "private" ones (Zig-Zag, Vic Haun).
A bit longer to get to the top than the direct Temelpa route, with a total around 4 miles... but worth every step on the way!
Went up Temelpa on saturday with my 9 pound chihuahua. The rocks in the trail ( actually the creek bed)we so large i had to pick up my dog to get over them. YES, It was steep, but really fun. we hike everyday on a different trail, and this was by far the most fun. so much so, we did it again on Sunday
Hiked up to the East Peak. You can think of this trail in three parts. The first two are all about the climb. This route is the shortest one to the top of Mt. Tamalpais, but it's also the steepest.
The first third of the trail is a little rocky and steep. The second part is rockier and steeper. After the fire road, the trail narrows to the point where you'll have to walk single-file if you're hiking with others. You can look forward to taking a break at Sitting Bull. It's a small spot, but good enough to sit or stand and enjoy a great view. There's an inscription of part of one of Sitting Bull's speeches on a giant rock and an alter that seems to be well-maintained.
The third part consists of a lot of switchbacks, more fabulous views and a trail that varies from wide to narrow. Wooden barriers have been erected along some portions of the trail, but if you have issues with narrow paths with steep drops, you may have some difficulty negotiating through a few areas of this path.
The trip is well worth the effort, though. Once you're near the parking lot, you can circle around to a tiny path that leads to a natural lookout spot with, once again, some amazing views of the entire Bay Area. There are also lots of new wooden benches along the newly-asphalted path. (These make for great little romantic spots too.) The path will eventually lead you to the top, which has bathrooms, a visitor's center, a model train and track leftover from the old railroad days and picnic tables. From there, it's a very short hike up to the fire lookout for...wait...for...it....more jaw-dropping views. (You've gone this far, you might as well make it to the *top* of the top.)
All-in-all, this is a challenging hike with a great payoff in the form of picturesque views. If you are wiped out from the trip up or you're racing against time to get back before sunset, you can head in the opposite direction toward the Mountain Home Inn to get back to the trailhead. It's a longer trip down, but has a much gentler slope which makes it a little bit faster than the trip up.