Explore the most popular birding trails near San Rafael with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Scenery: 2
Views: 3
Difficulty: 3
Crowds: 3
Shade: 3

My 1-5 Rating Scale Comparisons for above:
5 for Scenery; Mcway Falls Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
4.5 for Scenery: Berry Creek Falls Big Basin State Park
4 for Scenery: Steep Ravine Trail

5 for Views: Nimitz Trail Tilden Park
5 for Views: Ridge Trail San Bruno Mtn Park
4.5 for Views Montara Mtn Summit San Pedro County Park
4 for Views Rancho Canada Del Oro Bald Peaks trail

5 for Difficulty: Junipero Serra Peak
4 for Difficulty: Mount El Sombroso Loop Trail

This 10.5 mile loop does not Exist. At the 3.0 mile marker there is a slough, you cannot complete the loop. It dead-ends. Whoever suggested this trail obviously did not actually walk the 10.5 mile loop.
Other than that it is an awesome isolated 6 mile out and back trail. Tons of birds and isolation, not many people on the trail. Just disappointed, wanted to do a 10 mile hike. Look at my recording. Great completely flat easy hike.

Too many speedy, rude and cheap mountain bikers! Not a good hike for me.

Good views and mix of shaded/sunny areas but a lot of bikes so make sure to be on alert. Also saw a lot of deers close to the trail.

Tyreyty4866(; was a great snight xu

Lovely, easy/moderate trail with ocean views. Would love to come back mid-week. Wouldn’t want to do this hike again on a weekend day—too many bikers zooming past. I wasn’t able to get into a rhythm, had to keep stopping to step off the trail to let them pass.

Lots of bird wild life.

walking
2 months ago

Nice easy loop walk. Went for bird watching 2 months ago, but the tide was out and there was nothing to be seen. I was specifically looking for shorebirds, so I was disappointed, but the walk was pleasant. There's a boardwalk along the shore side. Good interpretive signs. Mostly flat ground, muddy in spots as it has rained the prior week. Only saw 3 people and it was on a Saturday. Parking is off the road with no lot and we didn't see a sign very clearly until we got out.

Not marked at all so make sure you download the map before you start. It’s a rough way up and steep way down. Not a lot of shade at certain points so make sure to wear sun screen. Not sure if we took the right way back, because we went down a thin little valley path to get back

A great hike with plenty of scenic views of the Bay. We saw several animals including deer and some wild turkeys. The difficulty was relatively easy and only got steep at a couple of points.

If you’re going for hiking, we careful of the bikers. Some of the paths get narrow and the bikes can come out for nowhere sometimes. Not too big of a problem, but definitely something to be aware of it you decide to do this hike.

I love this trail

hiking
4 months ago

Solid hike - most elevation gain at the start but not too tough. A little boring the last few miles - ton of bikers

hiking
4 months ago

We ended up walking from our hotel in San Rafael and did not arrive to the trailhead until mid morning on an early June day that happened to be very warm. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Despite the heat and full sun it was worth the effort. Hawks and eagles can be seen catching the currents and there were plenary of beautiful vistas. Trail signs are not existent so make sure you study the map before you get started.

Bring water. When hiking between May and September you will be exposed to the full sun from mid morning and late afternoon. Very little tree canopy shade. Great birding area and some wonderful vista views. I would rate it an easy hike, more like a walk.

I bring friends & family members who want to go on a hike but don’t really hike often here...it is a perfect >30minute route. Easy to take with dogs & children. There are hillsides that you can climb up to as well. There is also a wishing tree.

Great views too

hiking
4 months ago

This hike was great. I am completely out of shape (and overweight), but I was able to complete this (nearly 9 mile) hike. We saw so many deer, a few small snakes, a couple coyotes, and an endless number of lizards. Yes there are plenty of mountain bikers, but not really bothersome.

Great walk, only complaint was a lot of mountain bikes to step aside for. Would still recommend.

hiking
5 months ago

For hikers looking for a variety of short out-and-back and longer loop trails, China Camp SP offers a great mix of bayside and woodland habitat to explore.

There are peekaboo views through thick trees down to China Camp and San Pablo Bay from the many miles of the Bayview Trail. But the grandest vistas are to be found at the apex of McNears Fire Road - 360 degree panoramas of the City, all 3 SF Bay bridges, Mt Diablo, Mt Tam, and the North Bay peaks, from a single unbeatable location.

Over 8 years hiking I once spotted a great horned owl on Turtleback Hill, but usually you’ll encounter docile deer foraging next to the trail, occasional turkeys, fence lizards, and all manner of winged insects on windless days. Currently, in early May the trailsides are flush with beautiful iris and monkey flower.

China Camp SP is also a more than solid choice for East Bay folks seeking sun in Marin in Spring, Fall and Winter (though summer rambles can be on the hot side!).

Essentially, this is a network of coastal foothill paths in an open space reserve. Easy for walking (I guess you could call it "hiking") but I especially like it for its trail running opportunities - if you want to challenge yourself, there are routes with elevation gain to turn to; if not, plenty of flat terrain as well.

You'll get some nice views of the ocean, and you'll get to walk amongst Eucalyptus trees. Marin County ardently fights for its open spaces - this is evident by how "real estate-able" the area appears to be, yet, this open space remains for locals and outsiders (hint: you might stick out like a sore thumb as an outsider, they'll just know! no biggie) to enjoy.

No admission fees. Be ready for friendly dogs and people.

walking
6 months ago

Short easy walk on a single trail with nice views of mountain. Good if you want to avoid bikers. Also good if you just want a loop to walk around and if you like to pretend you are walking around a turtle’s shell:-) Easy parking on a weekend day.

Well maintained. Lots of options. Beautiful. During the week, especially in the AM, nothing can compare (well, almost nothing)...on the week/end, mountain bikers believe they own the trail. Avoid if you can.

Good for dogs!

Beautiful trail for family walks.

mountain biking
8 months ago

A great ride, but it seemed like everybody was going counterclockwise and I went clockwise so I felt like I was swimming upstream.

Nice wide fire roads with great vistas. Great to take dogs or younger kids. Gradual gentle uphill.

The trail is great for a easy accessible day hike. The only downside is the amount of bikers!

Great trail however when I got to midway and tried to catch the fire trail, it was all fenced up so had to hike back same way. Wish the trail was updated.

Easy. Busy. Views. Informative signs.

mountain biking
11 months ago

hiking
Friday, September 29, 2017

Hiked counterclockwise. Easy hike but relatively long at 9 miles. I hiked during a weekday in order to avoid the mountain bikers. This trail is well known as a favorite for bikers. Still a nice hike worth returning to for hiking. On the day I hiked the final 1.5 miles of the trail was closed which required a walk along the highway back to the trailhead. Total hiking time: 3 hours.

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