Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Marin Headland's Black Sands Beach

Black Sand? Perhaps one would think they were on some exotic Hawaiian island, rather than a foggy coastal Marin beach.

Black Sands Beach is really not so black as it is a deep dark brown, yet when the waves roll back the sand really does appear black. To experience the true diversity of Marin County, try testing your directional skills in locating this treasure. Here is a little help from your friends...

Where Conzelman Road winds along the southern shore of the Headlands and becomes one-way, look for a pull-out on the left side of the road just after Hawk Hill. If parking is available (usually five to six cars can fit), pull in and look for a sign that reads "Upper Fisherman's Trail." The trail marker will let you know you are in the right spot.

From here it is a short 15 minute hike to the beach which traverses some varied terrain: a dirt trail, a cliffside bridge, and wooden steps. At our last visit, the steps to the beach were still intact - otherwise there is a short jump down to the sand.

While in the Headlands and looking for something else to fill your day, continue on Conzelman Road past the Nike Missal site towards Fort Cronkhite. Take the left onto Bunker Road up the hill to The Marine Mammal Center where there is plenty of parking in the new lot.

Admission is free and there is something to see year-round.  The Marin Mammal Center's purpose is the rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing of marine mammals who are injured, ill, or abandoned. Depending on the time of year, one may see a California Sea Lion, Northern Elephant Seal, Pacific Harbor Seal, Northern Fur Seal, or a Southern 
Sea Otter. On a few occasions, the Marine Mammal Center has taken in Guadeloupe Fur Seals, Stellar Sea Lions, and Bottlenose/Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. The only non-mammals that the Center takes in are sea turtles.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Check out this great video on Mountain Biking in Marin by EpicTV!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Some Interesting Marin History

Dipsea Highway Directional Road Sign

On October 11, 1923 the Dipsea Highway was dedicated by erecting the first of many Tamal Chief signs at Manzanita Junction in Mill Valley. The signs, made by D. E. Bowen of Richmond, spread from Southern Marin out to Stinson Beach, Inverness, San Anselmo, San Rafael and all the way to Sacramento. Endorsed by the California Automobile Association, the new highway was intended as a revenue generator for Marin County and was advertised as spanning “from the Valley to the Sea” culmination in the famous “Circle Tour of Mt. Tamalpais.” Seven days before the official highway opening, the Marin Journal reported “the Dipsea Highway was becoming a famous automobile route for tourists from the Sacramento Valley…Already it has been the means of bringing hundreds of summer sojourners to the Marin County resort on the sea coast.” The Dipsea Highway, organized in part by Newman L. Fitzhenry, secretary of the Dipsea Highway Association and resident of Stinson Beach, continued to be a success as the years passed. However, at some point the signs were removed and highway name was nearly forgotten. 
The route today, a combination of Highway One and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, remains popular with tourists seeking a pleasant day at the coast and in West Marin.

Visit the Marin History Museum for more amazing historical facts on Marin!
Boyde Gate House at 1125 B Street in San Rafael

Have fun looking back into Marin history with this map found in the Marin County Library archives!
The Marvelous Marin County Map was done in 1937 by Lance Barnes

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kirby Cove: One of Marin's Many Hidden Gems

How about camping just yards from ocean waves and with views of the Golden Gate Bridge?
Kirby Cove, within the boundaries of the GGNRA, may be your answer!

Just west of the Golden Gate Bridge is the entry gate to the one-mile fire road leading down to Kirby Cove. The entry is off of Conzelman Road, near the pullouts for Battery Spencer. Don’t let the gate throw you off. Make your way down to the beach past the numerous eucalyptus and cypress trees. 

If you have a campsite reservation, you will be given a code by the Park Service and be able to drive down to set up camp in one of the four sites available to you. There is no water or firewood, so remember to pack both for your adventure.  Reservations are strongly recommended.
Sorry, but Fido will have to stay home…

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Visit the New Marin History Center in San Rafael

Welcome to the new Marin History Center at City Plaza in San Rafael
1026 Court Street
The History Center is a community gallery featuring programs and art-inspired exhibitions. Expect to listen to lectures and book readings, and view documentary screenings all in one place!

Dorothea Lange at Steep Ravine On Display Now Until Saturday, April 6th 2013 
In the late 1950s, famous American photographer Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) and her husband Paul Taylor began leasing a small cabin perched on the rocky coast of Marin County. They traveled to Steep Ravine many times over the years with their children and grandchildren, crossing the San Francisco Bay from their home in Berkeley – a short distance, but worlds away. Surrounded by the wildness of natural elements on the western edge of Mount Tamalpais, this became a profoundly significant place for Dorothea Lange and her entire family. Throughout her many visits to the cabin, Dorothea Lange took over one thousand photographs of her family and the environment at Steep Ravine. This exhibition is one the first times many of these images have been printed and publicly displayed. It is also one of the first times an audience has the opportunity to see and experience the work that captivated Lange in the last years of her life.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tennessee Valley Beach Changes Its Look

Have you visited Tennessee Valley Beach lately?
Nature seemed to have taken control over a longtime familiar landscape on December 29, 2012.
A small crowd of only ten or twenty people were witness to the facelift or rather facedrop that day. One person in particular was able to catch the whole process on camera! Click here for the sequence as it happened.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wheelchair Access to Mt Tam Trails

The best way to view Marin is from the top of Mount Tamalpais 

From the highest point of the mountain at East Peak, any visitor can traverse the paved trail for those fantastic photo ops to bring home!
If one is unable to hike any part of the mountain, there are a number of wheelchair access trails to try out:
The Verna Dunshee Trail circumvents the East Peak offering extraordinary panoramic views of Marin and the San Francisco Bay area. This trail is accessible for its .7 mile length. There is accessible parking, picnic tables, restroom facilities, and drinking fountain available at the trailhead.

The Old Mine trail (packed dirt) at Pantoll is also accessible by wheelchair. 
Spectacular vistas may be seen from this .4 mile portion of the trail from Pantoll as well as the .25 miles of the McKennan Trail. An accessible campsite, restroom and parking area are additionally available at the Pantoll Ranger Station. Both the Alice Eastwood campground and Pantoll campground have ADA access. 

Cabin #1 and campsite #7 at Steep Ravine are both accessible for wheelchair access.

The Frank Valley Horse Camp is accessible and has an accessible ramp to assist riders from a chair to a horse with additional assistance from the chair users party.

The Mountain Theater has a wheelchair platform on the right side of the theater for all of their Spring performances.

Highlight Community of the Month

Mill Valley

Nestled below majestic Mt. Tamalpais, Mill Valley is reminiscent of a charming European village. Surrounded by national parks, including Muir Woods, an ancient coast redwood forest, Mill Valley's lush landscape of hills and canyons is a favorite place for visitors who enjoy hiking, mountain biking, golf and running. Two national financial magazines, MONEY and CNN/Money, recently named Mill Valley as one of the 10 top cities in America in which to live. They noted that millionaires and well-known names in the film and music industries, like Bonnie Raitt, Bob Weir and Sammy Hagar, make their homes in this quaint community.

Downtown activities center around Lytton Square, where people gather for coffee at the Book Depot Cafe or for a game of chess while conducting some serious people-watching. Fashionable boutiques and restaurants fill the downtown. The Sweetwater Music Hall, one of the top roots music clubs in the nation, is well-known for its live musical performances and famous guest musicians who occasionally drop in for an evening to improvise.

Mill Valley is host to a range of cultural activities. The Mill Valley Film Festival is an internationally recognized festival that has attracted leading filmmakers and movie aficionados for the past 28 years. The Mountain Play, produced in June in an outdoor amphitheatre, attracts thousands of theater-goers to the top of Mt. Tamalpais to watch Broadway musicals performed by talented local actors. The Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club, a state historical landmark, was designed in 1904 by internationally known architect, Bernard Maybeck. Particularly notable for its unusual roof truss system, the Arts and Crafts style building exemplifies Maybeck's creative use of natural materials.

Mill Valley, home of the Marin Mountain Bike, hosts the annual Dipsea Race, the second oldest footrace in the United States. The race takes runners over a 7.1 mile course up and over Mt. Tamalpais to one of the most beautiful California beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Whether it's for cultural events, dining, shopping or recreation, Mill Valley is a draw for both visitors and residents alike.