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Tennessee Valley in the Sun

Oakwood Valley Trail, a little known trail in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, offers shelter and sun. It explores Oakwood Valley and more while flirting with the fogbank. About 6 miles. Dogs are welcome on Oakwood Valley Trail, but not elsewhere

There are lots of wonderful small and large loops to hike in the Tennessee Valley region of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). We want to share one we did recently.

It was a hot day in San Anselmo, and so we went towards the coast thinking it might be cooler. As we approached Tennessee Valley we could see the fog pressing inland. In fact, at the parking lot we were shivering as soon as we got out of the car. That was a little too cool, so we backtracked along Tennessee Valley Road to a small trailhead for the Oakwood Valley Trail. Oakwood Valley Trail is a short neighborhood-style trail that travels northward up a gentle valley. It is sheltered from the wind and fog, and we warmed right up in the sun as we hiked up.

There are two routes at the bottom to choose from, a single track that meanders through a meadow, or a fire road in a tunnel of eucalyptus. Both routes come together and then go past a small pond that harbors newts and frogs. We saw several newts swimming across the pool. This trail is one of the only trails in the Tennessee Valley area administered by the National Park Service that allows dogs off leash, under voice control.

The trail rises pretty steeply after the pond and works its way up towards a ridge where Alta trail connects. Alta junctions to the Rodeo Avenue Exit Fire Road. The Rodeo Avenue exit, off southbound 101 in Sausalito, is another way to get to Alta Trail. There are great views into the bay along the ridge. A right and then a right again brings you to the ocean-facing Bobcat Trail. Bobcat Trail is one of the gems of Tennessee Valley.

We struck it about in the middle, but the lower portions skirt the impossibly rich Gerbode Valley, home to numerous wildlife including bobcats. Bobcat Trail, taken to the right, runs along a ridge and passes the intersection to Hawk Camp. The sight of backpackers lounging along the slopes of Gerbode Valley gave us palpable jealousy. We swore to return another day to camp out for a night in this incredible spot.

Bobcat Fire Road turns into a single track as it junctions with Marincello Fire Road. Marincello offers a quick way down, but we continued on Bobcat, which turns to Miwok Trail, and veered left to pass around a fenced FAA antenna. A few minutes more hiking and we found the junction to Old Springs Trail. Old Springs Trail was sunny, what luck, and we tripped on down to reconnect with Tennessee Valley Road at the stables and main parking area. Across the road, a trail runs back along the south side of Tennessee Valley Road to Oakwood Valley completing our loop.

We were glad the fog had receded and we could enjoy the cool but sunny outing on the edge of the fog.

Curry Eckelhoff August 06, 2011 at 10:04 PM
Approximately 35 years ago prior to our wonderful gift of the GGNRA there was an application in to the County Planning Department for 28 fully lit tennis courts climbing up the hill of Oakwood Valley! They would be built layer upon layer of concrete retaining walls, as I said 28 of them. The community of Tam Valley fought it. The developers lost and Open Space won!!
Marilyn B August 07, 2011 at 12:15 AM
A debt of gratitude to the community of Tam Valley.
John May August 07, 2011 at 12:42 AM
I knew about Marincello and remember the white wall entryway where the Tennessee Valley Stables are now, but I didn't know about the tennis courts. What a travesty that would have been. Oakwood Valley is a little jewel.
Donald Herzog September 01, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Once you reach the ridge, the trail to the south is off limits to dogs.
Jacquie December 06, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Just found this site and noticed your father's cousin - Fred Bagshaw. I lived on Pine St, Mill Valley in 1957. I was in the 1st grade at that time. My father knew Fred and his wife - he used to ride "Silver Bell" their white mare. I have several old pictures of the cabin and Fred with his side arm strapped to his leg. My father was Leonard Hobbs. My email is reds.1950@hotmail.com. I will dig out my photos and email them if you would enjoy. Jacquie C. Boring, Oregon

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