Rodeo Beach South,
Golden Gate National Recreation Area/Marin Headlands,
National Park Service, Marin County
In brief:
0.4 mile out and back to pretty Marin Headlands beach.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 0.4 mile out and back hike is easy, with a few short steep stretches and some stairs. Total elevation change is about 152 feet.

Exposure:
Full sun.

Trail traffic
:
Moderate.

Trail surfaces
:
Dirt trail and steps.

Hiking time
:
1 hour.

Season
:
Nice any time.

Getting there:
• From northbound US 101 in San Francisco County, cross the Golden Gate Bridge and exit at Alexander (the first exit past the view point turnoff). At the base of the exit ramp bear left, then turn left onto Alexander, pass under 101, and just before the merge back onto 101, turn right onto Conzelman. Drive uphill on Conzelman Road, and follow Conzelman to the intersection with Field Drive. Turn right on Field, then after only 170 feet, turn left and continue on Field. Drive 0.3 mile, then turn right into the parking lot.
• From southbound US 101 in Marin County, exit Sausalito (the last exit before the bridge). Drive uphill on Conzelman Road, and follow Conzelman to the intersection with Field Drive. Turn right on Field, then after only 170 feet, turn left and continue on Field. Drive 0.3 mile, then turn right into the parking lot.

GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
Latitude 37°49'31.83"N
Longitude
122°31'49.41"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Trailhead details:
Large dirt parking lot. No entrance or parking fees. Pit toilet at edge of parking lot. There are handicapped-designated parking spots, and the trail is wheelchair accessible, but it is poorly suited to chairs. No maps or water available at trailhead. If you want to pick up a map before you start hiking, stop at the Visitor Center on the way to the trailhead: from the junction on Field Road turn right, then turn left into the Visitor Center. Muni bus line #76 services Bunker Road (Sundays and major holidays only -- the trailhead is about a mile from Bunker Road): visit the Transit Info website for details.

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, restaurants, and stores about 6 miles north in Marin City. There are a few camping options in the Headlands, including small camps at Kirby Cove and Bicentennial.

Rules:
On this hiking-only trail dogs are permitted on leash.

The Official Story
NPS's GGNRA page.
Marin Headlands Visitor Center 415-331-1540

Map Options:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Map from GGNRA (download Marin Headlands Trail Map)
• Tom Harrison Maps' Southern Marin Trail Map (order this map from Amazon.com) is a good guide to the area.
A Rambler's Guide to the Trails of Mt. Tamalpais and the Marin Headlands, map from Olmsted and Bros (order this map from Amazon.com).




Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page




I've been hiking the Marin Headlands for almost 20 years, parking lotbut one part of the Headlands had eluded me. I found driving the one-way section of Conzelman overwhelming -- the road is narrow, steep, and winding, with bicycles zooming past, and I felt a little panicky. By the time I would reach the junction near the Point Bonita lighthouse and Battery Mendell, I just wanted to get OUT. South Rodeo Beach had been a victim of my oversight, but no longer. I slowed down, found this trailhead, and was delighted with the trail. SouthRodeo Beach Trail
    Start at the large dirt lot and find South Rodeo Beach Trail departing to the west (unsigned here at my visit). The wide dirt trail is at first nearly level, but as it turns to head more directly west the path begins an easy gentle descent. This wind-swept section of the Headlands is dominated by iceplant, but there is some ground-hugging coyote brush and a little bit of poison oak. Yarrow blooms in summer here and you might see some lizardtail, monkeyflower, and wild radish. Ocean viewThe ocean is visible as the trail continue to descend, passing through loose sand and steps until at 0.2 mile, one final stretch of steep stairs ends at the beach. At my visit, the last few feet of steps were a mess and you would need to scramble (or jump) to reach the beach; looks like this section is slated for reworking.
     Bird Rock looms off the coast just to the south, and Rodeo Beach is just north, but blocked by rock formations. Explore the beach and play on the dark sand, and when ready, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance:  0.4 mile
Last hiked:  Tuesday, July 2, 2013