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.

Nice easy hike to do with kids, just watch out for mountain bikers cause they come around the corners fast!

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.

Short but sweet! This trail will give you a great leg workout! Almost no shade so bring extra sunscreen! Lots of uphill on the first half and then lots of downhill on the return! Very challenging trail! Took me 3.5 hours with no breaks.

I did this hike last weekend. There was almost no shade. I got a nice tan after this hike even with sunscreen on. It’s very challenging on a hot day! Lots of uphill climbing and the Downhill on the way back can be hard on the knees. I only saw one person on the trail on a weekday. The hills are no joke. Lots of climbing! Bring lots of water!

Really hard trail! Those hills are no joke. Very steep high incline elevations. It feels uphill all of the way out and the return hike has a few steep parts as well. Solid 10 mile hike. I did this 3 weeks ago and there was almost no shade the entire hike. It took me 4.5 hours with no breaks. I saw 2 people on the trail. I did this on a weekday! Very challenging hike! Your legs will be thanking you!

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.

It’s literally nothing but walking in zig zags uphill.

It’s fairly difficult and mostly uphill

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

Great hike/workout. I did this hike in early June when the grass was no longer green but some wildflowers were still blooming. The trail is mostly exposed, carry sun protection/hat. It was pretty windy on the day I went so I did not feel the sun as much. It is a fire road all throughout and the gravel can make it slippery, wear good shoes and/or carry hiking sticks. Great views from the top. I was the only person on the trail except for some mountain bikers passing by. Enjoy!

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

Hiked from Big Rock trailhead to just past the transmission towers, then back. Great views, good workout, beautiful views. Total hike: 7.2 miles, 1,325 ft of elevation, 2 hr 41 min.

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

Nice and easy family hike on Peacock Gap this Memorial Day weekend.
Couldn’t find the turn off of mcnears fire trail onto shoreline trail, so ended up doing and out and back.
Will re do for sure!

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.

Varied views. Springtime brings flowing waterfalls and wildflowers.

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