Explore the most popular hiking 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.

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

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.

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.

Varied views. Springtime brings flowing waterfalls and wildflowers.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful, mostly shady trail that has almost no traffic on an early weekday morning, a terrific time to hike. The incline is gentle, even the steeper parts, and the views are lovely. I missed the switchback up to McNears Trail and kept walking on The Shoreline Trail and had to backtrack, so this 3 miler turned into a 6 miler. Lucky me!

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.

Great- good parking. Steep areas and great views. Saw a coyote. Met runners along the way and had a great workout.

mountain biking
3 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.

Good out and back hike. Starting at Big Rock the trail is all uphill for 3.5 miles. The elevation change is moderate and provides a good workout but not a difficult one.. Beautiful vistas of Lucas Valley the entire way. Not much shade cover.

Easy. Busy. Views. Informative signs.

mountain biking
7 months ago

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.

hiking
9 months ago

It is a very steep incline but the view is very pretty. Very steep probably too difficult to run safely unless you go very slow.

First, a few things:

1. Moderate? Hm.. no. If you do the full 9.5-10 mile loop, those inclines are no joke. And if you don't know, it's the down hill that kills.

2. Shaded? Some, I'd say only 50% of the trail. Still, don't go in the heat! It'll be rough. I drank over 100oz on the trail, so did my gf.

About the hike:
We hiked this today (late July) it was warm/hot, and I had 25-30lbs in my (inadequate) pack since I'm conditioning for a backpacking trip. We went all the way to the end and came back doing the full loop.

The 2nd part of the loop is not very well maintained, and the trail was even a little hard to keep at times. I took a wrong turn 4-5 times, or thought I went off trail, then realized I was originally on the right one, so went back.

It was tough, maybe it would've been easier with just a light pack and on a cooler day. The views were great though and it's great for conditioning. We only saw two bikers, and two dog walkers. Also two deer, some quail, and a small snake.

Trail
Closed due to storm damage

hiking
10 months ago

Super easy for kids, they loved it. We sighted deer while on our walk.

hiking
10 months ago

Tough. Straight uphill to start the first 1/2 mile. Great views from the top!

hiking
11 months ago

Easy loop, good for bored kids. Or to do just a bunch of lazy loops with a pretty view.

hiking
11 months ago

mountain biking
Saturday, May 20, 2017

Lots of trail closures today so had to spend part of the loop on the main road, but still such a beautiful area and one of my all time favorite spots to ride.

I'd have to do it again for a full review.

Great little walk with the pups.

Great view of the bay, city and mt Tam.

Nice gradual incline the entire way out. You'll start to feel it but the grade is shallow enough that you're able to keep your breath. Good workout that's not too brutal.

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