A moderate half-day hike, the Hogback Fire Road to Fern Creek Trail route provides some of the most direct access to East Peak, the true summit of Mount Tamalpais. Winding up Mount Tamalpias' south facing slopes, the route ascends open fire roads before splitting off on the Fern Creek trail en route to the summit. East Peak, and much of the trail itself, offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the surrounding Marin hills, San Francisco Peninsula and San Pablo Bay.
The trail begins a few hundred feet north of the Panaromic Highway parking area located across the street from Mountain Home Inn. Cross the Panaromic Highway and head up the road marked by the “Marin Country Fire Dept” and “Mt. Tamalpais Watershed” signs (note: there is also another gravel road to the right here that takes you to additional parking). Pass the Throckmorton Fire Station and continue up the steep Hogback Fire Road.
Just over a half mile up Hogback you’ll run into Old Railroad Grade Fire Road, a popular mountain biking trail. Make a left heading uphill and continue until you reach the Fern Creek Trail junction a third of a mile ahead. Follow the Fern Creek Trail uphill to the Summit Ridge and visitor center, where restrooms and drinking water are available, and continue to where the trail ends just below East Peak. To reach the summit take the Plankwalk Trail, and enjoy the vistas afforded at the top.
Be sure to pack a jacket, as East Peak can be much windier and cooler than the trails that lead to the summit.