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Leo, Dan, Eric, Zakk, Jenn and I decided to do an overnight to the Marin Headlands part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This is a really neat area with some historic batteries, a restored Nike missile site and both Ocean and Bay Views. Reservations for Marin Headlands campsites can be made 30 days in advance by calling 415-331-1540. Camping permits are free but sites are limited to 4 people per site. There is NO water at camp, or on the way to camp. You will have to carry your own water with you. I think the fact that the campsites are "dry" makes them less popular than they would be otherwise. Mileage varies depending on which route you choose. The permit allows you to park at any trailhead for your stay. Campsites have nice food storage lockers, picnic tables and port-a-potties. With a short hike from camp you have views like this! There are many route options with ours being a semi loop of about 8 miles. See map/profile below.

 

 

We checked in at the visitor center to get our permit, get a map and check for any info we should know about current conditions. The visitor center has some plants on display before you enter, one being Poison Oak. Be sure to look at this plant and make sure to stay away from it on the trails. There are some historical exhibits and things for sale in the Visitor Center as well. Permits can be obtained after hours in a drop box if needed (make sure to arrange that with the rangers ahead of time). To reach the visitor center exit 101 at either Conzelman Road or Alexander Avenue. Conzelman Road has the famous view of the Golden Gate bridge but Bunker Road has a 1-way tunnel. Check them both out. We decided on parking at the Miwok Trailhead off Bunker Road. See map/profile below. The trail is almost all exposed, but you are by the beach, so the cool breeze made our trip near perfect. We took the Miwok Trail to Bobcat Trail to Hawk Camp, about 4 miles total in a gentle up direction. The steepest part is from the port-o-potty to the campsites on the top of the hill. Hawk Camp has 3 sites, each with a max of 4 people. The sites are grouped pretty close together under some pine trees for shade/hammock options. Here we are ready to leave the trailhead. We had 2 sites reserved. We did a Sunday-Monday trip and while the trails were busy Sunday, they were really quiet on Monday. The third site was reserved according to the ranger but no one ever showed up.

 

 

The trailhead is at the edge of Rodeo Lagoon adjacent to some white buildings with red roofs and some loading docks. The area near the loading docks are marked no parking and there is no parking behind the buildings, we checked. We got there decently early on Sunday morning and had no problem finding a parking spot. Here we are hiking on the Miwok Trail just pass the trailhead. The first mile is a good warm up since it is flat, and you will be carrying a heavy water laden pack.

 

 

At the first junction be sure to take a right. Trails are well marked and standout. Here we are at the junction to Bobcat Trail/Rodeo Valley Trail.

 

 

Stay left at the next junction to stay on the Bobcat Trail, if you go right you are on the Rodeo Valley Trail. The trail starts to climb now. The trail goes through a group of Eucalyptus trees through here. Here is a shot zoomed into our destination. The group of trees with the faint blue tent is Hawk Camp. The white picket fence above left is a FAA facility (we learned that on the way out).

 

 

After climbing a bit you get your first water view. This is the Pacific Ocean. It was windy on this trip so there are whitecaps out there. You will have to take my word for it as you can't really tell in the picture here.

 

 

Continue up the wide fire road style trail, watch for bikes as they like to use this trail as well. The bicyclists we saw all seemed to be driving safely, and we tried to stay out of the way so they could keep their momentum. This is a shot of the Alta trail if you took a right at the next junction. I was up here on a nature call, make sure you take a left and stay on the Bobcat Trail.

 

 

Make sure to look around on this trail as the views only get better. Here is the Golden Gate with San Francisco behind.

 

 

Continue along the trail, looking back at views of the Pacific Ocean and parts of San Francisco now.

 

 

Before long you will have to take a left onto the trail to Hawk Camp. Notice the good signage.

 

 

There were a decent amount of wildflowers considering the dismal amount of rain we had this year.

 

 

There is a pond (must be a spring near Hawk Camp based on vegetation and runoff on the side of trail) on the way to Hawk that had some newts in it.

 

 

So we picked the two sites on the right as you come up the trail. As I mentioned earlier the port-o-potty is down the hill from camp. The tables were all in good shape and the area clean. The bear storage lockers are huge and great. You can put your whole pack in these things. This shot is of the first site as you come up the hill.

 

 

The other two sites are past this sign, one site on the left and the other on the right. Each site has a spot for a tent that is framed with wood. There are no fires permitted out here, only backpacking stoves are allowed. The warnings include raccoons and bobcats and coyotes.

 

 

Here is the view from the sites down to the port-o-potty. It is steep especially in low light or with tired legs.

 

 

The view from camp is hard to beat!

 

 

This is the site on the left side. It ended up being the one we hung out at that night as it was the most sheltered from the wind. It also has some berries growing near it and some rabbits living nearby.

 

 

Here is the upper site on the right and my ultra light tent. You can see the area marked off for a tent. The ground is HARD up here.

 

 

I grabbed this shot of a lizard watching me at camp before he decided I must want to eat him and he took off.

 

 

Leo and Dan decided to camp hammock style this trip. This is Leo before he goes into "cocoon mode".

 

 

Here is Leo in "cocoon mode" with Jenn making sure he is able to breath. There is also a tarp that goes over the setup as well for wind/weather protection. Dan has a similar setup on his.

 

 

We did a little day hike on the Alta Trail and a portion of the SCA trail before heading back to camp for dinner. Here is a shot on the way out to the Alta Trail.
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You are able to peek into Sausilito and the Bay in spots along the Alta Trail.

 

 

There is a grove of Eucalyptus trees along the trail before the junction to the SCA Trail. The ivy through here grows way up the trunks of the trees.

 

 

Here is a shot of some wind swept plants on the SCA trail.

 

 

We had a nice evening watching the glow of the City in the distance. We heard coyotes in the distance and even saw a rabbit that night. Some of us heard a coyote walking/huffing through camp that night and a loud owl in the pine trees above camp. Neither one got our rabbit friend though and in the morning there were actually 2 now... rabbits!

 

 

We headed back using the Bobcat Trail to Miwok Trail back to trailhead. Here is a shot looking back at the San Francisco skyline with a portion of the Bay Bridge.

 

 

Trail junctions were well marked on the way back. The only tricky part is the FAA facility, but if you go check it out there is a trail that circles it and comes back to the trail. I think you could actually use a road that branches off the circular trail to go more directly to Miwok Trail. Not sure though as we stayed on the marked trails. There are plenty of options to add more mileage to this trip (Tennessee Valley, Wolf Ridge Trail to Coastal Trail). We were a little pressed for time so did the quick 4 miles on the way out. I am sure that we will be back to checkout some of the other camps and trails soon. See map/profile below. This shot shows the Miwok Trail going left and the Wolf Ridge Trail snaking its way up the ridge to the right. This was another great trip and even though we had heavy water laden packs the first day the views made it worth it.

 

 

 

 



Map and profile from Miwok trailhead (at Rodeo Lagoon) to Hawk camp and back (semi-loop) is shown below (travel is counter clockwise) . Click either for a larger version.
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