By Lucy Cipriani
Almost all teens of Novato can agree that despite the abundance of wealth, our city is a dull, uneventful, and exceptionally boring place for high schoolers to live. High schoolers in this town are constantly on a quest to be entertained and to find a good time. But luckily, we are extremely fortunate to live in Marin County, one of the most beautiful places in California. Marin is home to a plethora of outdoor adventure spots that are just waiting to be discovered. Here are some of the most popular destinations that the locals praise.
Mount Tamalpais State Park: Mount Tamalpais captures the heart of Marin County. The breathtaking views from Mount Tam’s 2,571-foot peak includes the beautiful Pacific Ocean, the Farallon Islands, the Marin County hills, San Francisco Bay, the East Bay, and Mount Diablo. Visitors can drive up the face of the mountain, explore the golden grass hills, watch for wildlife, or go on a scenic hike.
Junior Lily Manshouri described her love for the mountain.
“Going to Tam with my friends or family always makes me feel extremely grateful to live in Marin. I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful place where you can explore all these different places with amazing views,” said Manshouri.
The park is open from 7 a.m. to sunset, and makes for a spectacular picnic spot and sunset-viewing area.
Tennessee Valley Trail: Tennessee Valley in Mill Valley is an amazing hiking spot known to everyone across the Bay Area. The Tennessee Valley Trail is mostly level, beginning at the parking area and extending 1.7 miles to Tennessee Beach. For the more experienced hiker, there are a variety of other trails leading into the hills above Tennessee Valley. One of the most popular trails of Tennessee Valley is the Coastal trail, that winds across the bluffs with an ocean view throughout the duration of the hike, connecting Rodeo Valley and Muir Beach. In the Spring season, the valley is plush with wildflowers and a wide variety of vegetation that flourish with the crisp ocean air. Some tips to make your trip even more memorable would be to arrive early to ensure a parking spot, and to coordinate your visit with a low tide and seasonal sand alignments to see the buried engine of the shipwrecked SS Tennessee.
Marin Headlands: The Headlands are a classic tourist destination that people from all across the world dream of visiting. Located on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate, this five-mile road offers breathtaking views of the bridge, the San Francisco Bay, the city, and the Pacific Ocean. The immense history of the Marin Headlands gives the destination character and an essence of importance. Many different cultures have called the Headlands home, including the Miwok Indians and the U.S. Military. Snake your way over the Headlands down to historical Fort Cronkite, located on Rodeo Beach. Visitors can hike up sea bluffs to watch the sun set into the ocean or lounge on the beach and watch local surfers. There is no food or water available at the Headlands or beach, so be sure to pack water and snacks!
Muir Woods National Monument: In 1908, former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt declared the land a National Monument, the first to be created from land donated by a private individual. Roosevelt then named Muir Woods after naturalist John Muir, whose environmental campaigns helped to establish the National Park system. Muir Woods is a 550-acre National Park forest, containing hundreds of old growth coast redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens). The constant layer of wet coastal fog causes an explosion of plant growth, making the forest extremely plush and verdant. Visitors can explore hiking trails, and visit the cafe and gift shop, which include an array of historical information regarding the Park. The visitor center also includes multiple exhibits on redwood ecology and conservation to ensure that proper wildlife conservation methods are being practiced. The park is open 365 days a year, and can be reached by car or shuttle.
Dipsea Trail: The Dipsea Trail is a scenic trail that stretches 9.5 miles from Muir Woods to Stinson Beach. The trail takes you through redwood forests, wonderful sand beaches, and everything in between. Hikers park at Muir Woods, and begin on a roughly three hour trek that encompasses the beauty of Marin County. The hike itself is considered a moderately difficult hike, but is deemed very rewarding to those who hike the Dipsea. Most people have no problem completing the trail, but it is recommended to start early in the morning to ensure parking and cool weather. Remember to wear proper footwear and pack water and food. In addition, the annual Dipsea Race, one of the oldest trail races, attracts more than 1,000 racers and has become a well-known Marin County tradition that will continue for many years to come.
Point Reyes National Seashore: The cultural history of Point Reyes reaches back 5,000 years to the first inhabitants, the Coastal Miwok Indians. European explorer Sir Francis Drake was also one of the first Europeans to explore this region of America in 1579. Years later, the United States government responded to the alarming amount of shipwrecks along the Point Reyes coast and key lighthouse and lifesaving stations were established by the in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Visitors can now explore the Point Reyes Lighthouse and museum, beautifully engineered on the edge of a coastal sea bluff. In addition, visitors can also camp overnight, visit beaches like Drakes Beach or Limantour Beach, go hiking, and explore the history of the land and its early developments.
Town of Bolinas: The residents of Bolinas are infamous for ripping down road signs to prevent tourists from discovering their hidden little beach town, and it is very clear why they want to keep others out. The town of Bolinas is your typical quaint beach community, full of mom-and-pop coffee shops, used book stores, and a relaxed way of living. Bolinas Beach is a popular surf spot, perfect for both beginners and those who have been surfing for years. The beach is also fit for sunbathing and taking pets to run wild. The town is also a popular spot for Marin residents on the Fourth of July because of the colorful parade, live music, and dance party on the beach.
Senior Jack Byram described his love for being in Bolinas on Independence Day.
“Bo is the place to be on Fourth of July. High school and college kids come together for a giant party on the beach. It’s always dope,” said Byram.
Make sure to drive slowly on the narrow streets and be sure to visit the famous 2-Mile Surf Shop on your way to the ocean.