So close, yet far enough to get swept up in iconic coastal scenery—that pretty much defines this classic hike in the Marin Headlands. Go on a winding 5-mile loop hike that brings together the best of the headlands. Starting from the main Rodeo Beach parking area, head east along the road next to Rodeo Lagoon and its resident great egrets.
Within a half-mile veer left and into Gerbode Valley on the Miwok Trail. You’ll be sharing this wide fire road ascent with hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers. Keep an eye out for red-tailed hawks. At the junction, you’ll connect onto Wolf Ridge Trail and meander next to the rolling hills of the headlands.
When you reach the Coastal Trail, detour uphill briefly to the high point, Hill 88, an old military site that has a tremendous view over Rodeo Beach, the Marin coastline, and even south to San Francisco. Follow the Coastal Trail back to Rodeo Beach, descending the rock-and-log stairway to reach Battery Townsley.
This site was San Francisco’s most secret World War II military fortification, and home to a vast network of underground tunnels during the Cold War. (It was even used as an underground research facility.) The magnificent views from this battery go up and down the coast and to the Pacific’s horizon.
Park in the main lot at Rodeo Beach and head east, lagoon side, crossing the street in 0.5 mile to reach the signed trailhead for Miwok Trail. Take Miwok up to the junction, then take Wolf Ridge Trail left, to Coastal Trail. At Coastal Trail head left and briefly uphill to Hill 88. Return to Coastal Trail and follow it all the way down to Rodeo Beach, stopping at Battery Townsley. Dog-friendly!