Trail of the Week: Mt. Tam Loop, Marin County, California
The centerpiece of the Marin County trail running scene in Northern California.
Our Trail of the Week feature is made possible through a partnership with Trail Run Project.
One of the centerpieces of the Marin County trail running community in the Bay Area of California is Mount Tamalpais (Tam for short), and an ascent to the summit is a challenging route for even the fastest trail runners in the area.
The 8-mile loop, which begins in downtown Mill Valley, isn’t easy—be prepared to do a lot of climbing. The first 3 miles of this run climbs 2,500 feet to the mountain’s east peak summit.
RELATED: Higher Ground: ‘Bros On A Mountain’
The first mile and a half out of downtown Mill Valley are run on paved roads that lead to the technical, steep singletrack of the Temelpa Trail, which eventually gives way to a series of runnable switchbacks. The final push to the lookout power on the mountain’s east peak is a full-on scramble over exposed rock. The views of the entire Bay Area from the top, however, are more than worth the effort.
Be careful coming back down the mountain and watch your feet on the steep, sometimes rocky, descents. Trail-specific running shoes with additional traction on the outsole are a recommended option when traversing the trails around Mt. Tam.
Runnable: 72 percent
Singletrack: 55 percent
Average Grade: 12 percent
Total Ascent: 2,556 feet
Total Descent: -2,557 feet
Highest Elevation: 2,571 feet
For a closer look, check out the interactive map, data, photos and virtual run simulator courtesy of Trail Run Project: