Home > Golden Gate Ferries, Golden Gate Transit, Hike, North Bay > Larkspur Loop: King Mountain, Dawn Falls Trail, Paths and Stairways

Larkspur Loop: King Mountain, Dawn Falls Trail, Paths and Stairways

This tour of Larkspur trails and open space offers plenty of variety, from paved bike and pedestrian paths, to a mostly flat and shady walk on the beautiful Dawn Falls Trail (in Blithedale Summit and Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserves), to an invigorating climb up King Mountain. You will also travel through downtown Larkspur and climb a couple of Larkspur’s stairways.

Places visited: King Mountain, Blithedale Canyon, and Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserves, Larkspur paths and stairways
Approximate Length: 9.25 miles (10 miles total with optional side trip)
Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
Map: Baltimore Canyon, Blithedale Summit and King Mountain Open Space Preserves (PDF), Larkspur Walk Bike path map (PDF)
Terrain: Mix of flat sections and moderate to challenging climbs, dirt trails and paved pathways and stairways.
Transit schedule: Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80, Larkspur Ferry
Start point: Golden Gate Transit 70/80 stop at Lucky Drive, Larkspur
End point: Larkspur Ferry Terminal

Getting to the starting point:

  • From San Francisco, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70 or 80 bus from Mission Street and 1st Street (stop is right in front of the Walgreens on Mission). You can also pick up Route 70/80 at different points along its route along Mission, up Van Ness, and west on Lombard to the Golden Gate Bridge. Check the current San Francisco System map to see if there is a stop closer to you. Take the Route 70/80 to the Lucky Drive Bus Pad in Larkspur.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to the final San Francisco stop. Walk on 3rd Street towards Market, turn right on Mission, to the Golden Gate Transit stop at Mission and 1st. Or, from BART, take a San Francisco BART train to Montgomery Street station. Exit the station, walk Market Street towards the water/ferry building, turn right on 1st Street, and walk one block to the corner of Mission and 1st. Take the Golden Gate Transit Route 70 or 80 bus from here (stop is right in front of the Walgreens on Mission) to the Lucky Drive Bus Pad in Larkspur.
  • From the East Bay, take a San Francisco BART train to Embarcadero station. Walk on Market Street away from the water/ferry building to 1st Street, turn left on 1st Street and walk one block to the corner of Mission and 1st. Take the Golden Gate Transit Route 70 or 80 bus from here (stop is right in front of the Walgreens on Mission) to the Lucky Drive Bus Pad in Larkspur.
  • From the North Bay: Take Golden Gate Transit Route 70, 71 or 80 from any of the stops along its route. If you are coming from Petaluma/Cotati/Rohnert Park/Santa Rosa, you will be taking Route 80. From locations in Novato, San Rafael, and Marin City, you can take any of the three buses.

Notes:

  • The open space trail map for this hike is useful, but also somewhat confusing due to missing street-trail connections on the map. Likely these details are not shown because of limited or non-existent street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. I recommend printing and bringing the two maps listed above, and using them in conjunction with the directions and Google Map below.
  • Food is available in downtown Larkspur along Magnolia. You will be on sections of Magnolia at two points in your route, so feel free to wander further down the street and then return to the route. Restaurants can also be found at the Larkspur Landing shopping center across from the ferry terminal (take the overpass to reach the center). The shady Dawn Falls Trail has some spots to stop and eat a bag lunch, particularly along the optional sidetrip section.
  • While most ferries from Larkspur go directly to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, note that the final ferry on the weekends (at 5:30 pm) makes a stop to pick up passengers in Sausalito. This ferry trip is quite a bit longer than the others, so you may wish to plan your outing so that you can catch an earlier ferry. If you miss the final ferry or would prefer to take Golden Gate Transit on the return trip as well, you can make the short walk back to the Lucky Drive Bus Pad. The path you want is marked in purple as “18” on the Larkspur path map; you will see a sign for the turn along the final path to the Larkspur Ferry.

Directions:

  • From the bus stop, walk up and over Highway 101 on the bicycle/pedestrian overpass.
  • When you come off the overpass turn left at the street (Nellen).
  • Turn right at the next block, Fifer.
  • Turn left at the next block, Tamal Vista. Cross to walk on the right side of Tamal Vista.
  • Look on your right for a wide, paved pathway. Turn right here and start walking on the path. (This path is called the Sandra Marker Trail on the Larkspur path map.)
  • Continue walking on the path past a high school, keeping an eye out for cyclists.
  • Once the path starts curving left, be on the lookout for a church on your right. Here you will turn right off the path and onto Baltimore Street. There is a street sign visible here. Beyond your turnoff, the path shortly merges with another path; if you reach that point, you’ve gone slightly too far and can backtrack on the path or the sidewalk to Baltimore.
  • Continue on Baltimore, crossing Monte Vista.
  • Cross the street and turn right at the next block, Magnolia.
  • Pass William Street on your right and a few businesses.
  • Soon after you pass a small grove of redwood trees, look on your left for stairs.
  • Head up on these stairs. This is a popular spot for runners, so you may see people doing laps up and down the stairs and using small stones for counters.
  • Turn left at the street at the top of the stairs.
  • Walk carefully along this narrow street, watching for cars.
  • After the road has curved to the right and you come to an intersection (Onyx Street), turn left. This will be a very sharp left onto a street that starts off almost parallel to the street you came up.
  • Turn right at the next block, Madrone. From here, note that the route connecting you from the neighborhood to the Dawn Falls Trail is not shown on the trail map.
  • Turn left at the next block, Foley.
  • Very shortly, turn left at Bridge Road.
  • Stay right at the next intersection, Baltimore Ave.
  • Stay left at the T intersection, Shady Lane.
  • At the end of the road, look for stairs on your right. Take the stairs to the road above.
  • Turn right and walk down this narrow gravel road.
  • Continue on the road past a sign for Blithedale Summit.
  • When the road ends, continue straight on the dirt path, which is the Dawn Falls Trail.
  • For awhile, you will see the backs of houses on your right. Continue on the main trail along Larkspur Creek.
  • Continue straight past a trail juncture where a bridge crosses over the creek to connect with the street to your right.
  • From here the trail leaves the house behind and continues through the trees. When you get to the juncture with another bridge you will turn right to connect with the Ladybug Trail (sign is visible but on the other end of the bridge), or continue straight for the side trip further down the Dawn Falls Trail.

Optional side trip on Dawn Falls Trail: This route takes you further along the shady Dawn Falls Trail through Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve. The waterfall may not be present in dry seasons, but it will still be a nice trip any time of year. Plan on an extra 45 minutes to take this side trip and stop for a snack or linger a bit on the rocks along the creek.

  • Stay straight on the Dawn Falls Trail as it continues to follow the creek.
  • The trail stays mostly flat until you reach a large rock by the side of the creek. The last section of the trail past here is series of steep switchbacks up to the connecting fire road. If the water is flowing, you may wish to continue to the end of the Dawn Falls Trail for waterfall views. If little or no water is present in the creek, however, this is a good place to sit and take a break before you turn around.
  • Head back on the Dawn Falls Trail to the intersection with the bridge.

End optional side trip

  • Walk across the bridge and past the sign for the Ladybug Trail. Here you start to head up into King Mountain Open Space Preserve.
  • After some steep climbing, you reach the intersection for the King Mountain loop. Take the loop to the left.
  • When you reach a gravel road, cross it and continue on the King Mountain loop. (Note that this intersection is not shown on the trail map. The road passes through a gate and out to Ridgecrest Road into the neighborhood.)
  • Turn left when you reach a wide fire road, and start heading downhill towards a water tank.
  • Turn right at the water tank and continue down the fire road.
  • Stay on the fire road as it curves and starts to pass near the neighborhood.
  • When the trail ends at the street, turn left.
  • Turn right at Hawthorne, and then make a quick left at Ward Street.
  • Turn left at Magnolia Street. Here you pass through downtown Larkspur.
  • Cross Doherty Street, and then cross to the other side of Magnolia Street.
  • Take the bike/pedestrian path that heads off to the right of Magnolia.
  • Stay right at the fork in the path. (Continuing straight is also possible, but the right path has more scenic views.)
  • Follow the path as it veers left and heads along the creek.
  • Continue to follow the path as it makes a few turns and finally ends up at Bon Air.
  • Turn right at Bon Air and follow it over the water.
  • Turn right at Eliseo when you reach the other side of the water.
  • Follow Eliseo through a neighborhood of professional offices and apartment buildings, and past the small Bon Air Landing Park.
  • When Eliseo ends (El Portal heads off to your left), continue straight onto the bicycle pedestrian path along the water.
  • When you near busy Sir Francis Drake Blvd. and Highway 101, follow the signs to the Larkspur Ferry. (If you are going to the Lucky Drive Bus Pad instead, you will turn right onto a path the follows the highway down to the bus stop.)
  • On the other side of 101, follow Sir Francis Drake Blvd. for a short distance until you reach the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.
  • Turn in at the lot, and follow the path along the parking area to the ferry boarding area. Congratulations, you made it!

Getting back from the end point:

  • For San Francisco, the East Bay, and the Peninsula: Take the Larkspur Ferry to the San Francisco Ferry Building. Exit the Ferry Building and cross the Embarcadero to Market Street, then walk two blocks to the Embarcadero BART/Muni station to take transit to the East Bay (BART), Peninsula (BART or BART to Caltrain), and Muni Metro to various points in San Francisco.
  • For many points in Marin, it may be easiest to walk back to the start point at the Golden Gate Transit (GGT) Lucky Drive bus pad (see Notes section above). On Saturdays and weekdays, you can take GGT Route 29 from Sir Francis Drake Blvd. near the ferry terminal to San Rafael. GGT Routes 24 and 97 serve the ferry terminal on weekdays only. Sausalito residents could also take the final Larkspur Ferry on weekends, which makes a stop in Sausalito before continuing to San Francisco.
Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: