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Bay Spot hikes: Exploring the concealed lakes of Mt. Tamalpais

Seasonal rains miraculously replenished Marin’s parched reservoir lakes earlier this winter, and these concealed gems on the woodsy north side of Mount Tamalpais offer enticing escapes for mountaineering and mountain biking, trail jogging, picnicking and fishing.

Just a couple minutes drive from the quirky, colourful city of Fairfax is the major gateway to Marin’s 22,000-acre watershed district, the Sky Oaks Ranger Station. There are a number of other techniques to obtain these wild lands and lakes, including Natalie Coffin Greene Park in Ross, Deer Park in Fairfax, Azalea Hill on the Fairfax Bolinas Street and the Leo T. Cronin fish viewing location on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. All 4 of these alternate entry details have absolutely free but limited parking, especially on weekends.

For the widest array of selections, easiest parking and ample trail entry, head to Sky Oaks Road instead, about a 15-moment push up the winding Bolinas-Fairfax Highway from downtown Fairfax. Vehicles pay back an $8 entrance price ($60 once-a-year passes are readily available) to accessibility a huge network of 150 miles of trails and unpaved roads, creating this an outdoor recreation paradise in just quick reach of most Bay Space communities.

I have an yearly senior pass ($30) to Sky Oaks and check out as usually as probable, particularly for lakeside ambles along Bon Tempe and Lagunitas lakes and mountain bicycle rides on common Tam routes these kinds of as the Eldridge Grade.

Soaring groves of coastline redwood — Sequoia sempervirens — insert shade and normal splendor to the shores of Lake Lagunitas on Mount Tam. (Ben Davidson Images) 

The serene waters of Lagunitas, Bon Tempe and Alpine lakes frame typical views of Mount Tamalpais and forested Bolinas Ridge. Boating and swimming are not permitted right here, but shoreline fishing for trout and bass is preferred. And Mount Tam is heaven for birdwatchers. In just under two hrs of path going for walks alongside Bon Tempe lake, we noticed colorful waterfowl — mergansers, wonderful egret, terrific blue heron, purple-tailed hawks, acorn and pileated woodpeckers. There are the latest studies of bald eagles nesting in the lakes area as properly. (In other terms, a pair of binoculars and a cell telephone birding app like Merlin or Sibley are a should when discovering the lake location.)

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Right here are four concealed gems to take a look at — as well as a several tips for where to pick up delicious provisions beforehand.

Phoenix Lake

The least difficult way to check out small but lovely Phoenix Lake, the oldest district reservoir, is to park at Natalie Coffin Greene Park in Ross and ascend the fire highway to the lake. The Phoenix Lake Fire Road and Gertrude Ord Trail type a 2.33-mile loop route about the lake, and the Yolanda Trail and Worn Spring Fire road provide moderately hard hiking entry to scenic Bald Hill (elevation 1,141 ft), perched substantial above the lake and the Ross Valley.

Mountain bikers normally use the Phoenix Lake Fire Road to commence a tough climb up to Mount Tam’s East Peak (elevation 2,579 feet) on Eldridge Grade or much more moderate climbs up Shaver Quality to Five Corners and the watershed lakes through Sky Oaks Street. Single monitor trails are off-boundaries to bikes in the water district but there are much more than 90 miles of hearth roadways to take a look at on two wheels.

Lake Lagunitas

Mount Tamalpais’ lofty East Peak, elevation 2,579 toes, overlooks Marin’s pristine Lake Lagunitas. (Ben Davidson Images) 

With picnic grounds, handy restrooms and a rustic wood spillway, Lake Lagunitas is a excellent area to expend the working day. An straightforward-going 1.8 mile loop path (open to hikers and mountain bikes) is the ideal route to take pleasure in this forest-rimmed lake and various side trails, this kind of as the Collier Path for hikers and the Rock Spring Street for hikers and bikers offer much more difficult ascents on the north slope of Tam.

Bon Tempe Lake

Park at the foundation of Bon Tempe dam to obtain a assortment of trails. My favored path here is an pretty much degree 3.9-mile loop around the lake, adhering to the forested Shadyside Trail (throughout the dam) to Pine Point (well-known with the fishing group) to the wide-open up and grassy shoreline on the Sunnyside Trail, in which a bumper crop of wildflowers awaits in spring.

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Alpine Lake

From the Bon Tempe dam parking location, a hike throughout the dam and alongside the distant and lovely Kent Trail is a wonderful way to escape civilization and immerse on your own in forests of redwood, Douglas fir, oak and madrone trees. Join with the Stocking trail and Rocky Ridge Fire Street for an exceptional, frivolously traveled 5-mile loop.

Picnic provisions and latte spots

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