Sunsational Mount Tam

The East Peak of Mount Tamalpais couldn’t be more accommodating: it’s reached via a short hike and easily…

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The East Peak of Mount Tamalpais couldn’t be more accommodating: it’s reached via a short hike and easily gives visitors one of the best views in the Bay Area. Yet, like visiting Alcatraz, many of us just haven’t done it. There’s no time like now to make it happen: winter typically brings crisp air, clean skies, and sensational sunsets (as well as fewer people).

Plan your arrival about an hour before sunset, and take the quarter-mile (one-way) walk up the Plank Trail to the 2,571-foot East Peak fire lookout and summit. On clear nights, it’s nothing but pure panoramic perfection. Mount Tam’s northern lakes wink like polished diamonds in the distance, and Mount Diablo and Mount St. Helena help complete a peak trifecta.

Whatever you do, don’t just cast your eyes west or you might miss an opportunity to catch Mount Tam’s giant pyramid-shaped shadow to the east. As the sun sets, the landscape is splashed in a tangerine shade, deepening into golden hues over the horizon. If it’s foggy? Even better. The coast exudes calmness, looking cozily covered by a fluffy blanket. Tam magical way to start the decade!

From Hwy. 101 in Marin, take the Stinson Beach/Hwy. 1 exit and go 1 mile to the stoplight at Hwy. 1. Turn left and go 2.5 miles to Panoramic Hwy. Turn right and stay on Panoramic Hwy. for 5 miles. Turn right on Pantoll Rd. and go 1.5 miles to Ridgecrest Blvd. Turn right and go 3 miles to the East Peak parking area. Dogs are OK in the parking lot. NOTE: You won’t be able to stay the entire duration of the sunset because a park ranger will come by to (kindly) boot you out instead of locking you in. Be sure to return to your car with some light left, if you stay that long. Park rangers will lock the gate to the parking area shortly after sunset. 

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