The Beatles sang A Long and Winding Road, which seems appropriate background music for a drive up the mountain… but you’d have to play the tune at least a dozen times over. What I’m saying is: it takes awhile to get to the top. Seriously, though, it’s worth the trip. Parking at the top is $6.
There’s a mostly level, 0.7-mile-long paved path around the top that opens up to spectacular views of the north side of the bay, toward Richmond and Tiburon. Mount Tamalpais is only 2,570 feet tall, but it rises so quickly from sea level that views from the summit path rival those from an airplane. Walking along, we looked down on hawks, ravens, and turkey vultures soaring back and forth in the ravines below. During our stroll, a long, low cloud hung over the bay near San Francisco, hiding all but the tops of the distant hills. Marin County was warm, with bright sunshine, while the city was in a cool, dank fog.
Mill Valley and Mount Tamalpais State Park are a short drive from downtown San Francisco and make an attractive outdoor alternative to spending another day in the city. Take Route 101 north over the Golden Gate Bridge, exit onto Route 1 for Mill Valley, and follow the signs.