On Friday, I ticked a big thing off my Bay Area bucket list – running Coastal Trail on Mt Tam. You may remember that I tried to run it a few weeks ago with a gaggle of awesome ladies but the revolting weather proved tougher than we were. We had a load of fun anyway but Coastal remained elusive and I definitely wanted to run it before we moved away.
On Friday, I snuck out of work an hour earlier, met Lisa and we drove up to Tam. Jen was joining us but she got bogged down in the grim Bay Area traffic and had to drop. Our roads were clearer and we got to Pantoll at about 2pm. We were lucky to get a parking space but before long we were heading out onto Matt Davis trail towards Coastal. It was a seriously gorgeous day – bright sunshine, warm temperatures but a cool breeze (wind) to stop us overheating.
It was beautiful from the start. It’s a fairly flat trail which winds its way through woodland. It was cool and lovely, we jumped over streams and dodged fallen trees. The trails were soft and smooth. Delicious.
Before too long we came out of the woods and the world opened up before us. Emerald green hills with red dirt trails slashed into them. Beautiful sparkling ocean before us. Orange California poppies dotting the fields. There was a LOT of squealing from sheer beauty and lots of photos and singing. We were out to break no records, just to have fun and the endorphins were raging already.
Matt Davis and Coastal intersect after about a mile and a half and we set off up this long-awaited trail. It did not didsappoint. It was gorgeous. The colours, the views, the warm sunshine, the stretches of open, ocean-view trails and the pockets of woodland to cool us down – bliss. Coastal climbed fairly steadily – it was very runnable but we were working hard to climb – we stopped fairly often to take photos and catch our breath and wallow in the views. It was wonderful.
At about the three mile point, we hit the Willow Creek Fire Road which was our place to turn right, off the trail. We were legitimately sad to leave this magical trail but excited to see what was next. We crossed the road and plunged back onto trail on the Laurel Dell Fire Road. We started descending into the cool forest.
The plan was to take Cataract Trail, turning right after the stream. We didn’t expect the stream to be actually pretty wide and flowing with water – people had placed little logs across the stream but I still managed to stumble and get one very wet foot! We turned onto Cataract Trail and there was a very audible squelch every time my right foot hit the ground, but it was rather nice and cool, to be honest.
Cataract Trail was lovely. It was flat, apart from the small ups and downs every trail has, and wound through the wood following a stream. The trails were gnarled with rocks and roots, we had to focus on our footsteps, but it was still beautiful.
Eventually we came out the woods at the Mountain Theatre area, where we’d got lost last time. It’s amazing how much easier it is to navigate in good weather than it is in a downpour…we found our way easily onto Old Mine.
We’d run Old Mine last time in the cold, wet fog. The difference this time was incredible. The views of the city in the distance were breathtaking, we stopped several times to gawp and exclaim at how flipping lucky we were to live here and be here right now on this beautiful day. Photos do not do the views justice – the hills rolling down, the city, Sausalito harbour sparkling in the sunshine, oh my word it was amazing.
We had an amusing incident when a wild turkey gobbled at us just off the trail – Lisa is scared of big birds and she let out the most enormous scream and the turkey ran off gobbling as I doubled over laughing. It was highly entertaining at the time!
All too soon we were back at the car. We’d run the princely total of 6 miles at a very slow pace but I can honestly say that this was one of the best runs I have ever had. The gorgeous weather, the beautiful trails, the excellent company…seriously, this goes down as one of the best ever!
I’d hugely recommend this route as an intro to running on Tam. It’s fairly easy to navigate, the trails are beautiful and it’s not particularly hilly as Tam goes. The route we took is on this link!
We drove home through grim traffic with Equator Coffee to keep us going. The endorphins lasted a long time. I’m so grateful we got to run this today. What an afternoon!