This is one of my new favorite dog walks. Since Freia lost her off-leash priviledges a month or so ago, I’ve been looking for good walks that are primarily on-leash for us to do. Years ago, I used to ride my mountain bike around the Marin Headlands and thought I’d check it out on foot. This is an area with a lot of deer, and therefore ticks. Though I treat Freia with Frontline Plus, I still don’t want her picking up any nasties on the way, so I’ve found that a couple of squirts of tick repellent spray on her paws and belly seem to work the best at reducing the tick issue. This last visit, I don’t think she picked up a single one, making the walk that much more pleasant!
Starting out at the visitor center, or Fort Cronkite, you head up the Coastal Trail, a steep climb up. The trail has both paved and unpaved options, so you can choose switchbacks or take it easy along a paved fire road. This trail follows the coastline to Muir Beach, but turn inland when you feel like you are at the top, the trail will take you to the right and keep you heading up.You will then join up with the Wolf Ridge Trail, which is limited to hikers (no bikes or horses). This part of the trail narrows, but is gently rolling just on inside of the slope. At this time of year, with the rain we’ve been having, it’s just a beautiful stretch of lush green and pretty wildflowers. They do have trail running races here so you will probably be passed by the odd studly hardcore runner, which isn’t such a bad thing! I have Freia on a 16ft Flexi so she can run up and down the sloping hillside to her heart’s content, lots of good sniffing to be had. This is the most (read- only) sheltered part of the trail and it can get very hot here in summer, so be prepared and bring lots of water for you and your dog!
This big leafy plant is Acanthus, one of my favorites, it is this leafy plant that was used as the inspiration for the Roman Corinthian columns. Here Freia is appreciating the shade provided by these enormous leaves. The Wolf Ridge Trail will eventually dead end at a T-junction. If you have a dog, your only option is to head down the hill to the right, as dogs are not allowed the other direction. You will now be on the Miwok Trail. This is a wide fire road that will take you back to the Rodeo Lagoon and eventually to the main road to Ft. Cronkite and the Beach. It’s not unusual to see coyotes here, though they will leave you alone, they have been known to hang out right at the edge of the trail. There are also bobcats, but these too will run away from you, probably long before you ever see it. The beach at the end of the road is off-leash for voice controllable dogs, but on a weekend there may be a lot of small kids so beware! This is however also one of the cleanest beaches I’ve yet come across, with a lovely thick pebbly sand in a rich brown/rust color, it’s just gorgeous. A dip in the ocean does double duty, cooling off the hound and washing off the bug repellent, as well as being a wonderful breath of cool fresh ocean air after a nice hike. The hike is about 4.5 miles and at a leasurely pace with a sniffing curious dog takes about 3 hours (including beach time!)