If panoramic ocean views are what you’re after, the section of the Coastal Trail running between Pantoll Station and W Ridgecrest Blvd in Mount Tamalpais State Park might just be the perfect trail for you. Traversing approximately 2.5 miles along the upper flanks of Mount Tam’s western slopes, this breathtaking section of California's Coastal Trail is relatively flat, allowing you to focus your energy on the surrounding scenery rather than catching your breath.
The trail can be approached from either direction, though a convenient parking area is located at Mount Tam's central Pantoll Station. Heading out from Pantoll, take the Matt Davis Trail west, which doubles as the Coastal Trail. The Matt Davis Trail splits off from the Coastal Trail at the 1.4-mile mark). The trail contours along expansive grassy hillsides interspersed with wooded ravines and offers continuous birds-eye vantage of the Marin Headlands, Stinson Beach, Bolinas Lagoon, and the great blue Pacific. At the split with the Matt Davis Trail, continue straight.
About halfway along the route you’ll pass the rusting remains of a trailside car wreck where rattlesnakes are sometimes spotted (keep a watchful eye as you pass). Continue across a few more draws and follow the trail past Willow Camp Fire Road to link up with West Ridgecrest Boulevard. Once you reach the road, take the same trail back to where you parked. Try and time this hike on a clear fall or winter day to get the most of the spectacular views.
Note: if parking near Pantoll Station is crowded, there is also an alternate access point located on the south side of Pantoll Road about a mile above Pantoll Station. The parking pullout is across the street from a connector trail (equally panoramic) that connects with the Coastal Trail.