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South Headlands Loop (Coast-Miwok-Alta)

  4.5 ( 4 ) Favorite


7.8 mile 12.6 kilometer loop


Ascent: 1,243' 379 m
Descent: -1,239' -378 m
High: 1,026' 313 m
Low: 45' 14 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)


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Trail shared by Ariel Zucker

Steep hills but level terrain take you through coastal scrub to views from the ridge.

Ariel Zucker

Features Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


From the ocean to the Golden Gate, the Marin Headlands are full of views. Hikers will start with a fantastic views and a gentle descent toward the ocean on the Coastal Trail, then turn to a laborious climb up Miwok Trail to rewarding views of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is an extremely accessible hike from San Francisco.

Need to Know

The Coastal Trail Parking Area has a decent outhouse.


This is an extremely accessible hike from San Francisco. From the west end Coastal Trail Parking Area, take the Coastal Trail downhill. This wide trail winds into Rodeo Valley with views of the ocean ahead. When you reach Bunker Road, briefly hike along it until you reach the crosswalk. Cross the road at the crosswalk and take the bridge to the junction with the Rodeo Valley Trail. Turn left at the junction to take the Rodeo Valley Trail toward the Miwok Trail, following the signs.

This is where it gets fun: Miwok winds steeply up to the ridge with little respite. Since you'll probably be going pretty slowly, keep an eye out for hawks, coyotes, bobcats, and other wildlife. Stay right at the junction with the Miwok Trail Connector, which will bring you onto the Bobcat Trail. Follow the grassy Bobcat Trail to the connector to the Alta Trail on your left, and then turn onto Alta Trail in order to stay on the ridge.

The ups and downs of the Alta Trail end at the crossing with Wolfback Ridge Road. Cross the road to the trailhead for both the SCA Trail and Upper Rodeo Trail, and turn left onto the SCA Trail. At this point, the trail is mostly downhill. Continue on SCA Trail to the junction with the Coastal Trail, and then take a final descent on the Coastal Trail back to the parking area.

Flora & Fauna

Coyotes, deer, bobcats, hawks.

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Dogs Allowed, History & Background


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Aug 24, 2019
Ian Campos
10h 50m
Jul 28, 2019
Marc Daniel
With Polo, Sara and Ryan (trinity Alps Group) — 8h 13m
Jun 26, 2019
Lena Martinez-Miller
Jun 10, 2019
Kerstin Jahn-Hofmann

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 4 votes


  4.5 from 4 votes
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in California


280 Views Last Month
3,100 Since Dec 10, 2018



View from the SCA Trail.
Mar 3, 2016 near Sausalito, CA
Welcoming the morning sun.
Mar 2, 2016 near Sausalito, CA
What a lucky day for me, no fog!
Mar 2, 2016 near Sausalito, CA
The beginning of the descent into the Rodeo Valley. Where is the drop off?
Mar 2, 2016 near Sausalito, CA
Bridge views can be had in many places on the Headlands.
Apr 21, 2016 near Sausalito, CA
View of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.
Mar 3, 2016 near Sausalito, CA


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