Explore hidden lakes on Mount Tamalpais

Seasonal rains have magically added to Marin’s arid reservoirs earlier this winter, and these hidden gems in the wooded north of Mount Tamalpais offer tempting escapes for hiking. hiking and mountain biking, trail running, picnicking and fishing.

Just a few minutes’ drive from the quaint, colorful town of Fairfax is the main gateway to Marin’s 22,000-acre watershed district, the Sky Oaks Ranger Station. There are a number of other ways to access these wild lands and lakes, including Natalie Coffin Greene Park in Ross, Deer Park in Fairfax, Azalea Hills on Fairfax Bolinas Road and Leo T. Cronin’s fish viewing area on the Great Highway Sir Francis Drake. All four of these alternative hotspots offer free but limited parking, especially on weekends.

For the most options, easiest parking, and wide access, head to Sky Oaks Road, about a 15-minute drive up the winding Bolinas-Fairfax Road from downtown Fairfax. Vehicles must pay an $8 entrance fee (a $60 annual ticket is available) to access an extensive network of 150 miles of trails and unpaved roads, making it an outdoor recreation paradise that doesn’t go unnoticed. easily accessible to most Bay Area communities.

I have an annual ($30) premium pass to Sky Oaks and visit as often as possible, especially for lakeside aristocrats along the Bon Tempe and Lagunitas lakes and mountain biking on the lakes Classic Tam routes like Eldridge Grade.

Soaring coastal redwoods – Sequoia sempervirens – add shade and natural beauty to the shores of Lake Lagunitas on Mount Tam. (Ben Davidson Photography)

The serene waters of the Lagunitas, Bon Tempe and Alpine lakes create the classic backdrop of Mount Tamalpais and the forested Bolinas Ridge. Boating and swimming are not allowed here, but fishing for salmon and sea bass on the coast is popular. And Tam Mountain is a paradise for birdwatchers. In just under two hours of walking along Lake Bon Tempe, we saw colorful waterfowl – merger birds, great egrets, great blue herons, red-tailed hawks, nightingales and woodpeckers stacked on top of each other. There are recent reports of bald eagles also nesting in the lake area. (In other words, a pair of binoculars and a mobile birding app like Merlin or Sibley are a must when exploring the lake region.)

Here are four hidden gems to discover – along with some suggestions on where to get delicious items beforehand.

Phoenix Lake

The easiest way to explore small but lovely Lake Phoenix, the county’s oldest reservoir, is to park at Natalie Coffin Greene Park in Ross and head up the fire road to the lake. The Lake Phoenix Fire Trail and the Gertrude Ord Trail form a 2.33-mile loop around the lake, and the Yolanda Trail and Worn Spring Fire provide a moderately challenging hike to Bald Hill (1,141 feet elevation). ), located high above the lake and the Ross Valley.

Mountain bikers often use the Phoenix Lake Fire Trail to begin their challenging climb up to the East Peak of Tam Mountain (2,579 feet) on Eldridge Grade or more moderate climb Shaver Grade to Five Corners and watersheds across Sky Oaks Road. Single trails are not limited to biking in the waterfront but have more than 90 miles of fire tracks to explore on two wheels.

Lake Lagunitas

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Mount Tamalpais’s towering East Peak, 2,579 feet, overlooks Marin’s untouched Lake Lagunitas. (Ben Davidson Photography)

With a picnic area, convenient restrooms, and rustic wooden spillway, Lake Lagunitas is a great place to spend the day. The easy 1.8-mile circuit trail (for hikers and mountain bikers) is the best route to enjoy this wooded lake and a number of side trails, such as the Road Collier Trail for pedestrians and Spring Trail for hikers and cyclists. Challenging slopes on the northern slopes of Tam.

Lake Bon Tempe

Park at the foot of Bon Tempe Dam to access various trails. My favorite trail here is a nearly 3.9-mile loop around the lake, following the woodland Shadyside Trail (crosses the dam) to Pine Point (popular with the fishing crowds) to the expansive shoreline and grassy on the Sunnyside Trail, where a bountiful harvest of wildflowers awaits in spring.

Alpine Lake

From the Bon Tempe Dam parking area, walking across the dam and along the lovely and remote Kent Trail is a great way to escape civilization and immerse yourself in the forests of redwoods, Douglas fir , oak and madrone. Connect to the Stocking Trail and the Rocky Ridge Fireway for an outstanding five-mile loop, gentle commutes.

Picnic supplies and coffee spot

https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/02/28/bay-area-hikes-exploring-the-hidden-lakes-of-mt-tamalpais/ Explore hidden lakes on Mount Tamalpais

Joel McCord

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