One of the best holiday light displays doesn’t involve a plastic Santa or synchronized blinking icicles. It’s catching the San Francisco skyline at sunset from high atop Ring Mountain. The Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve in Tiburon is pretty compact but occupies some of the best real estate in Marin.
The 2-mile (round-trip) hike to Turtle Rock is a perfect late afternoon wander. It’s a steady climb from the dirt parking area but doesn’t get too steep. Along the way enjoy views of San Pablo Bay, the Richmond Bridge, and San Quentin! In the spring this area is a wildflower kaleidoscope; right now it’s refreshingly Irish green.
The trail tops out at Turtle Rock, a giant multi-tiered outcropping, marking a spectacular vista of Richardson Bay, San Francisco, and the Bay Bridge. As the sun sinks, turning the skyline pink, the city’s lights start shimmering, including the Embarcadero and the Transamerica Pyramid. Scramble atop Turtle Rock for a holiday selfie (#weekendsherpa) to light up your social media feed!
Park along Paradise Dr. in Tiburon (map). The entrance to the park is on the right side of the road. At the first fork in the trail, go left onto the Loop Trail. This takes you up to Turtle Rock. From there, you have two options: return the way you came, or head west on the fire road for a short distance, then turn right onto the Phyllis Ellman Trail. This also takes you back to the trailhead. It’s 1 mile or about 30 minutes from the trailhead to Turtle Rock. If you’re going for sunset be sure to bring a flashlight. Dog-friendly!