Marin Headlands – A California Hills Best Kept Secret

The Marin Headlands are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the San Fransisco areas best kept secret for the ultimate in extreme views of the city, the bay, the bridge, and the pacific.


The Headlands are off the beaten path a bit, but so worth it.

Head across the Golden Gate Bridge. Just north of the city, you’ll come to the Baker-Barry Tunnel, which was the connection between two historic military bases.



The tunnel takes you up Conzelman, a winding road that includes many scenic overlooks and pull-offs.

At the time we didn’t know exactly where we were headed. We found our way across the bridge noticing what looked like a road winding up through the hills and just followed the traffic up the side of the mountain.

What a great mistake.

We decided to take it all the way to the top and not stop at the numerous lookouts on the way up. We were so glad we did.

You’ll be tempted to stop as the breathtaking views start and the traffic starts to thin out.

But leave the crowds and their good views behind and head to the top.

Keep going to the last lookout to find the best views.

After parking your car, you’ll walk away from the bay and towards Hawk Hill Trail.

An eery tunnel welcomes you with rusted gates swung wide. The echoing sound of water dripping from cracks in the yellowed cement above your head fills the silence until you exit into a way spot between two tunnels; the one you just left and another one ahead.



This little depression on the mountain has some great views of those rolling California hills and you could almost forget you’re on the edge of the Pacific because you can’t even see the bay behind you.

You’ll walk to and through a brick arch and enter a forgotten place.  It is obvious that it has long been abandoned and it’s military uses outlived.  But, it’s part of the mysterious charm here.



You’ll feel like you’ve been let in on a secret.  You left most of the crowd behind back down at the first few pull-offs and you have the place almost to yourself.

And the view.  THE VIEW. It is unreal.  There’s a lonesome top of the world feeling up here that is hard to find.



There were landings and gravely walkways, abandoned concrete structures set into the bare earth at the top of the hill to climb up on and explore, steep wooden stairs to sit on while looking out to the ocean. It was phenomenal.



This is one of those spots that the crowds don’t venture too. And you’ll be glad you did.

I just want to add a word of caution for parents.  The trails out on the headlands have steep steps or gravely paths and there were broken down railings that lead to some sickening looking falls.  My kids were 9 & 5 when we went and after assessing the area we set a few rules and didn’t have any problems.

Since we visited I have read that they’ve been doing some renovations there on the tunnel at the entrance and there are also more projects planned for the future to restore parts of these historic sites.

Has anyone else been there with their kiddos?

Thanks for reading,



Marin Headlands- A California Hills Best Kept Secret -Travel with Kids off the beaten path in San Fransisco's Bay Area






Posted in Homeschool, Roadschooling, Travel.

Hi, I'm Heidi a homeschooling Mama just like you. I'm passionate about simplifying your homeschool days and providing quality resources and support to your homeschool family. We are a full time RVing family roadschooling across the United States, learning through experiences.