Top Bay Area California Hike: Tennessee Valley, Coastal Trail, Fox Trail Loop

10.24.2022
Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail

Top Bay Area California Hikes: 

Tennessee Valley, Coastal Trail, Fox Trail Loop

The Tennessee Valley trails in the Tennessee Valley Golden Gate National Park and Recreation Area are among the most popular trails in all of Northern California. 

Located in Mill Valley, California, the Tennessee Valley Trailhead is a great spot to access many Tennessee Valley Hiking trails. And it is just 30 minutes from San Francisco or the East Bay!

These trails are family and kid friendly and lead down to the Tennessee Beach, Pirates Cove, and Muir Beach or wind up above the coast. If you love hiking, you will love hiking in Mill Valley.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Purchasing through these links earns me a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Many thanks for using these links!

Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail

Why do I love the Tennessee Valley Trail, Coastal Trail, Fox Trail hike?

  1. It’s really easy to access. 
  2. It can be modified if you want a shorter or longer hike.
  3. It has enough hills to make you feel like you’re getting some exercise, but enough plateaus to allow you to relax and enjoy the views.
  4. The hike is billed as Moderate level, which I agree with. If you find the climbs challenging, just take your time and you’ll be fine.

     

Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail

Begin on a comfortable, paved road that begins to wind up into the hills above the Pacific Ocean, offering views that Northern California is famous for.

You’ll see the magical, towering eucalyptus trees, deer, California Quail, rabbits, and more. The views include Muir Beach, San Francisco, and much of the East Bay.

This hike is a Marin County favorite because it combines some moderate climbs with many relaxing pauses. The trails are wide, well groomed, safe, and really well marked.

Know before you go

When to Go

The Bay Area and its micro climates are, predictably unpredictable. The Tennessee Valley Trails are very exposed, so if it is a hot and sunny day, there won’t be much shade. I like the Fall for this hike because the sun is shining but the temps are cooler. Wear layers!  When I started in the early morning, I needed a jacket but started shedding layers about half way through the hike.
If you start early on the weekends, you won’t run into too many hikers, bilkers, or runners. 
Shop my favorite hiking gear here. 

Hiking

How To Get Here

Tell your GPS to bring you to Tennessee Valley HIking. It will lead you down Tennessee Valley Road straight into the parking lot (which is adjacent to a horse stable). 

Parking Symbol

Parking

Get to the parking lot no later than 7:30 AM – 8:00 AM  on the weekend if you want to be guaranteed a spot. There is no fee for parking. There are plenty of spots and a bathroom facility. Overflow parking is allowed on both sides of Tennessee Valley Road.
The lower trails, closer to the parking area, get busier by 9AM. The weekdays, however, are much more low key.
There are trail signs and information at the Tennessee Valley Trailhead.

Tips

There is a toilet facility in the Tennessee Valley Trailhead parking lot. 

Take a photo of the trail map in case you lose wifi.

Bring plenty of water and snacks.

Wear hiking boots or sneakers with some tread.

Wear layers.

Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Dogs are only allowed on the Miwok Trail.

Remember no drones allowed in National Parks.

Please be respectful and follow all the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace!©  Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, Be Considerate of Other Visitors.

How Long Is The Tennessee Valley Hike?

The Tennessee Valley, Coastal Trail, Fox Trail, Loop is a 4.1 mile hike. It takes approximately 2 hours to hike. If you add the Coyote Ridge Trail to the Miwok Trail, you will add another 2 miles and still loop back to the parking lot.

(Or, If you add the descent down to Muir Beach, you will add 4.4 miles round trip.)

Top Bay Area California Hike: The Tennessee Valley Trail, Coastal Trail, Fox Trail Loop Details

The All Trails App has a great trail map and refers to the trail as the Fox, Coastal, Tennessee Valley Trail. However, I did not see any signs in the parking lot for the Fox Trail. So, don’t be confused. Follow these tips and you will be fine! You’ll be going clockwise on the loop. It’s really very well marked.

 

  1. Tennessee Valley Trail- Start the hike from the parking lot on the Tennessee Valley Trail. It’s a wide, paved road, lined with eucalyptus, some rocky ridges, and beautiful vegetation.. 
  2. Tennessee Valley Trail- At a fork, bear Right along the wooden fence, toward Tennessee beach and Coastal trail.
  3. Tennessee Valley Trail- The trail is now dirt and begins to wind upwards. You’ll hear and see the ocean peeking through on  your left. 
  4. Coastal Fire Road Trail- Continue onto the Coastal Fire Road Trail until you arrive at the peak views of the coastline. 
  5. Coastal Fire Road Trail- Take photos, have a snack, soak in the views. 
  6. Coastal Fire Road Trail- Continue to climb toward the Fox trail for 0.7 miles.
  7. Fox Trail- Now you have a choice to turn right and head down on the Fox Trail, back toward the Tennessee Valley Trail, or continue straight up toward the Coyote Ridge Trail.
  8. Coyote Ridge Trail- Bear Right onto the Coyote Ridge Trail and follow it as it winds down on steps and some uneven gravel trail until you see a Miwok Trail Post on your left, and a narrow, cut- through trail on your right. TAKE THE NARROW TRAIL on your right.
  9. Follow it down until you merge with the Miwok Trail again for a short time.
  10. Tennessee Valley Trailhead & Parking- Is 1 mile ahead. Enjoy the gorgeous eucalyptus grove that you pass through before you reach the parking lot.
Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail

 Fun Facts

The California Quail are in abundance along this trail. Look for their fabulous feather crests. It’s like they’re wearing hats for a royal wedding! These birds are also known as the Valley Quail and are small ground-dwelling quail that you’ll see pecking around on the ground.

The Spring Bloom is a popular time to visit the Tennessee Valley trails. You’ll see lupine, checker-bloom, blue-eyed grass, California buttercup, and California poppy. The summertime brings  fennel, lizardtail, sagebrush, sticky monkey flower, and blackberry bushes.

Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail
Tennessee Valley Trail

xx, 

Carrie