More than 12,000 acres of the GGNRA are concentrated in the Marin Headlands, a hilly peninsula just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. The possibilities for long on-leash walks and off-leash beach frolics with your best furry friend are many—and, as a bonus, you’ll often be playing within view of the famous orange span. Following are a few to put on your dog-friendly Marin bucket list.
Areas open for dog-walking include the Coastal Trail from the Golden Gate Bridge to the junction with Wolf Ridge Trail; the Loop Trail from the Rodeo Beach parking lot up the Coastal Trail paved road (Old Bunker Road) near Battery Townsley and return to Rodeo Beach on paved road; and the Wolf Ridge Loop. Pets under strict, reliable voice control can accompany you leash-free on these trails. They can also run to their hearts’ content on Rodeo Beach, one of few strands in the state where it’s legal to ditch the tether. Stop by the visitor center (on the way to the beach) to pick up a map and get details on where you can and can’t legally go with Rover.
Muir Beach: Dogs under voice control can romp free on the sand at this beautiful sheltered cove.
Stinson and Upton’s beaches: No dogs are allowed on Stinson Beach in West Marin, which is part of the GGNRA and popular for surfing, hang-gliding and beach volleyball, but at the contiguous, county-owned Upton’s Beach, Rover can join you (leashed) in excavating material for a sand castle or wading in the gentle surf.
Fort Baker: Panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline and Golden Gate Bridge are a dime a dozen in Marin County, but they don’t get much better than along the trail system surrounding Fort Baker site of a 19th-century military installation converted into the luxury (and dog-friendly) Cavallo Point Lodge outside Sausalito. When you’ve worked up a sweat and admired the postcard-worthy views, clamber down to the hotel’s Murray Circle restaurant and Farley Bar, where you and your four-legged companion can relax on the veranda over (or under, as the case may be) a creative cocktail, craft beer or small plate.