Slacker Hill,
Golden Gate National Recreation Area/Marin Headlands,
National Park Service, Marin County
In brief :
1 mile out and back to a scenic Marin Headlands hilltop.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 1 mile out and back hike is easy, with a few short steep stretches. Total elevation change is about 375 feet.

Exposure:
Full sun.

Trail traffic
:
Light.

Trail surfaces
:
Dirt trail and fire road.

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 (circular) intersection with McCullough. Head around the rotary, 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 (circular) intersection with McCullough. Head around the rotary, then turn right into the parking lot.

GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
Latitude 37°50'1.97"N
Longitude
122°29'39.78"
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Trailhead details:
Small dirt parking lot. No entrance or parking fees. Pit toilet at edge of parking lot. There is a handicapped-designated parking spot, but the trail is not wheelchair-accessible or 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 of Conzelman and McCullough, turn right onto McCullough and descend to Bunker Road. Turn left and drive to the visitor center near the junction of Bunker and Field.

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:
Dogs are not permitted.

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




Slacker Hill is one of those insider locations trailheadyou'll be glad to have in your hiking arsenal. Although the trailhead is a stone's throw from one of the most heavily-visited tourist spots in the Bay Area (the Golden Gate Bridge overlook on Conzelman) trails are usually almost empty and a short steep climb leads to a vantage point with exceptional views.
     From this trailhead you could make a 3 mile loop of the roadside path along Conzelman combined with Coastal Trail. Even though the roadside path abuts Conzelman, views to the Golden Gate should provide some compensation. gate on Coastal TrailOr take Coastal Trail to the west, drop down into Rodeo Valley and climb on Rodeo Valley Trail to SCA Trail. The return route passes over the Baker-Barry Tunnel before skirting Slacker Hill to the trailhead. This option is about 4.6 miles.
     My favorite hike at Slacker Hill is the short and sweet climb to the hilltop. It's gorgeous (and a bit spooky) in fog, but chilly, so dress accordingly. Start at the parking lot and follow the narrow path (unsigned here) departing on the same side of the lot as the pit toilet.trail to Slacker Hill  Lush coastal scrub lines the trail, and the often moist weather seems to coddle monkeyflower, lizardtail, and fennel into extended blooming seasons. After 300 feet, carefully cross the street, then continue uphill on Coastal Trail. The gated fire road begins a sharp and rocky ascent -- look uphill to the right at the huge boulder hanging off the hillside. A few willows initially line the fire road on the left. Coastal Trail climbs through dense coastal scrub including coyote brush, bush lupines, sagebrush, poison oak, and monkeyflower. view from Slacker HillOld man's beard, a lichen, grows conspicuously over many branches of coyote brush -- it's as is if the bushes are wearing pale green fuzzy sweaters. Annual wildflowers begin to bloom about March here, with white zigadene and purple bluedicks usually the first to show. Flowers continue to brighten the hillsides along the trail through September (some, like paintbrush, linger into November). After climbing about 1/4 mile, you'll reach a signed junction. Turn right, following the sign to Slacker Ridge.returning downhill from Slacker Ridge
     The climb continues, albeit at a slightly easier pace. At about 0.4 mile the official trail bends right (a path to the left, to the other "peak" on Slacker Ridge is closed) and makes a final push to the top. Native bunch grasses are very common along this stretch, mixed through coyote brush, monkeyflower, blackberry, and ferns. At 0.5 mile, the trail ends at a flat treeless hilltop. The views are spectacular in every direction; the Golden Gate is particularly striking down to the south. What a great place to watch the sunset (just don't wait too long to head back downhill)! When you're ready, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance: 1 mile
Last hiked:  October 13, 2013