Tempe Temptations

Hiking at Bon Tempe Lake in Marin

Wildflowers, wildlife, and a wildly great view of Mount Tam as the backdrop … get your wows at Bon Tempe Reservoir, one of the five lakes on Mount Tam’s northern flank, and a water supply for many Marin homes. Ospreys soar overhead and evergreens tower all around as you hike the flat 3.8-mile trail circling the shore. Bon Tempe feels like a secluded lake in the Sierra Nevada!

A spring bonus: The hills are screaming green and filled with flowers … California poppies, sky lupines, and Douglas irises, to name a few. This lakeside loop is a solitude-seeker’s haven, with just the occasional dog walker or fisherman hanging out (from late October through May the reservoir is stocked with rainbow trout). Start the clockwise loop on the wide-open Sunnyside Trail with fantastic views of Mount Tam sticking with you much of the way; there are plenty of little spots by the water for enjoying a quiet moment under an oak tree. Finish on the Shadyside Trail hiking through madrones, Douglas fir, and plenty of ferns.

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BEER BONUS: Locally owned—and literally green certified—Iron Springs Pub & Brewery handcrafts their brews on-site. Grab a seat at the long wooden bar and pair the award winning Golden/Blonde Ale with sautéed seafood tacos.

Bon Tempe Lake is on Mount Tamalpais Watershed land. There is a day-use fee of $7. To get there from Hwy. 101 in Marin: Exit onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd. toward San Anselmo and follow it west 6 miles to Fairfax. Turn left on Pastori, immediately right on Broadway, then left on Bolinas (aka Bolinas-Fairfax Rd.). Go 1.5 miles on Bolinas Rd. to Sky Oaks Rd.; turn left. This takes you into the park. Make your first right after the entrance toward Bon Tempe. Drive 0.5 mile and park. Walk past the wooden gate and go left on the Bon Tempe Sunnyside Trail (right is the Shadyside Trail). When you get to the road, cross it and follow the wooden stairs and trail to the right. Continue right at the fork after 100 feet. When you reach the bathrooms, go up and behind them. Follow trail signs to make a big loop around the lake. Dog-friendly!

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