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Novato Hill Climb

Marin, California

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Novato Hill Climb

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  • Entrance to the gated community that never was developed.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Trail marker.- Novato Hill Climb
  • The tower marks the end of your 1,800-foot climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • The trail alternates between woods and exposed path.- Novato Hill Climb
  • The waterfall marks the start of your climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • A lush moment on the Novato Hill Climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • A small waterfall near the beginning of the Novato Hill Climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • The trail becomes very steep in sections, and it is very trecherous in wet conditions.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Novato Hill Climb
  • A steep ravine on the Novato Hill Climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Views become more expansive as you ascend.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Ascending the ravine on the Novato Hill Climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Another steep and exposed section of trail on the Novato Hill Climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Views of Novato and beyond.- Novato Hill Climb
  • From here the climb gets very steep, and you will need to use your hands.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Reaching the top of the Novato Hill Climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Beautiful views of Marin, Napa, San Francisco, and the East Bay.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Continue southeast on the fire road.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Spring grasses on the Novato Hill Climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • An abandoned building along the Novato Hill Climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • House finch (Carpodacus mexicanus).- Novato Hill Climb
  • The exposed fire road on the Novato Hill Climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • California poppy (Eschscholzia californica).- Novato Hill Climb
  • More climbing on the Novato Hill Climb.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Excellent views on a clear day.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Take a left onto the Halloween Trail.- Novato Hill Climb
  • Follow the paved roads back to your car.- Novato Hill Climb
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
360-degree views. Challenging hike. Little-known trail.
Cons: 
Exposed. Extremely steep. No easy way down.
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Region:
Marin, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,777.00 ft (541.63 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
7.72 mi (12.42 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
190.00 ft (57.91 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

If you have been in the market for a challenging, little-known hike in Marin County, look no further. With 1,700 feet of elevation gain in less than 2 miles and another 6 miles of constant gain and loss, this semi-secret ravine hike will test your legs and your love of heights.

The hike begins at the entrance to a long-abandoned gated community. The first mile is a deceptively easy jaunt to a waterfall nestled in the woods. Take a moment to enjoy this charming grotto, and then follow a small dirt trail above the waterfall. You will be following this canyon trail all the way to the top, scrambling up dirt hillsides and through small sections of forest. Be aware of poison oak, as it has the nasty habit of growing up over the top of the trail. With about a quarter mile to the top, the trail becomes very steep. You will need to use your hands in some sections. Be sure to stop and look behind for the improving views of Marin and beyond.

Once you reach the top and enjoy the spectacular views, you have a few options to get back down. You can head down the way you came up if you enjoy pain. If you head north, there is a fire road that brings you right down to the entrance, though it is on private property and normally closed. Continuing southeast on the ridge brings 4 more miles of expansive views and constant elevation changes. Keep following this fire road to the left until you reach the Halloween Trail, a singletrack that will finally lead back into the canyon. Once you hit the paved road, take a right and two lefts, and then follow the main road for about a mile back to your car.

 

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