Exploring Marin County with your dog

By: DogTrekker Staff

You’ve seen the views a million times in photographs, but if you haven’t soaked them up yourself from the Marin Headlands, what are you waiting for? The Headlands is a hilly peninsula on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge, best known for the views of the iconic structure. With a little exploring, you’ll come to know it in a different way.

Although many hiking trails lace the Headlands, dogs are allowed only on three scenic corridors incorporating parts of the Coastal, Wolf Ridge, and Miwok trails. Watch the signs: leashes are required in some areas, while dogs under strict voice control can trot free in others. (They can also run to their paws’ content on Rodeo Beach, one of the few Bay Area strands where the practice is still allowed).

Another paw-friendly favorite is the Tenderfoot Trail above Mill Valley. This trail dips up, down, and around redwood-cloaked hillsides that stay cool even on hot days. The 175-acre Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve is one of 34 tracts managed by the Marin County Open Space District. A 2.2-mile (round trip) trail leads to a waterfall that gushes in spring when wildflowers are also abundant. It’s a popular spot, so please practice off-leash etiquette while you’re out there. Keep dogs close to you and pick up after them to help keep the trails safe, clean, and beautiful.

On the northern outskirts of San Rafael, another DogTrekker stomping ground beckons. The Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve is large (1,104 acres), with trails and fire roads traversing exposed ridges with views to forever (or at least the Bay and Solano County). Choose a high-altitude entrance to minimize climbing, and remember: you can unclip the leash on fire roads but not on trails.

Let’s say you’re not into hiking or just don’t have time. That doesn’t mean Dixie doesn’t need her exercise. Mill Valley Dog Park, regarded as one of the country’s cleanest and most scenic dog parks, should be on every DogTrekker’s bucket list. The three-acre field next to an estuary features agility areas, grassy space, and a splash-happy dipping spot on Richardson Bay.


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