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Hardy Trails Lead to An Old Plane Wreck on Mt. Tam

Explore the south side of Mt. Tam and find an old navy plane wreck on this four mile loop hike from Mountain Home Inn. Dogs on leash welcome.

I had a hankering for Mount Tam this week, and my dog needed a hearty walk too. So we headed over to Mill Valley for a hike on the south facing slopes. Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) is kind enough to allow dogs on leash on all their trails, so we stuck to those lands and avoided the state park. limits dogs (on leash) mostly to picnic grounds and parking lots. 

The fog was rolling over the hills as we arrived at , where a state parking area lies across the street. The ridge was cool and windy, a nice change from the hotter microclimate of the Ross Valley. We headed up Hogsback Ridge Fire Road so that we could see climbing steeply towards the peak. The trails in this area seem to be either straight up the mountain or contouring trails. We got a little of each.

From Hogsback, we went right, onto Hoo-Koo-E-Koo single track trail. This contouring trail winds it way through scrub, colorful Manzanita with its oriental red bark, and rose-like fresh growth, and then finds cool shadows in canyons with Redwood trees and small streams. This section of Hoo-Koo-E-Koo ends at a twisty section of Old Railroad Grade called "Double Bow Knot" where the fire road wraps up on itself multiple times. We went left and up to the junction of Old Railroad Grade and Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Fire Road. There, a small trail between the two fire roads heads steeply up the mountain. This is called the Vic Haun Trail (or Old Plane Trail), although it wasn't signed.

The trail levels out and enters a canyon where an can be seen by taking unofficial and unsigned trails near the creek. The wreckage is a couple hundred feet down and signs warn hikers not to take any souvenirs. The plane that went down in 1944 was a Navy plane that was on its way from Alameda to Oahu, and slammed into the mountain due to fog. Eight people lost their lives.

Old Plane Trail past the old wreckage is fairly new (the original trail was built in 1944 just to get to the wreck), and ends at Temelpa Trail. Temelpa Trail is one of the original routes up the mountain. It is steep and treacherous and I found myself wishing I had done the hike in reverse as I picked my way down bedrock, gravel beds, and trenched trail. It requires hardy shoes and ankles, and nimble feet. Temelpa crosses Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Fire Road, and I turned back here by going right on Hoo-Koo-E-Koo. The fire road leads back to Double Bow Knot and Hoo-Koo-E-Koo single track.

See the book "Hiking Marin: 141 Great Hikes in Marin County" for more details. Click here to go the Marin Trails website, where you can find more information about the book.

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