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Blithedale Summit Open Space: Climb to a Higher Calling

Ridges, vistas and moments of light on Blithedale Ridge. A five mile hilly hike that energizes and challenges. Dogs on leash OK.

The Blithedale Summit Open Space is a lofty arena encompassing much of Mt. Tamalpais's north ridge. The preserve is well endowed with amazing views of the bay, deep swathes of forest, and crisp air filled with bird calls.

We looked to Mill Valley to enter, carefully parking along West Blithedale Boulevard (parking is limited) and heading through the gate at Old Railroad Grade. A tenth of a mile in, the H-Line Fire Road takes off to the right and climbs moderately up to Blithedale Ridge. Blithedale Ridge has a wide rocky fire road that provides great views, but can feel a little overexposed. We recommend crossing over the ridge after scanning for views and zig zagging down to Southern Marin Line Fire Road (Crown Road). There, take a left to find a level picturesque run along the mountainside on a well-maintained easy fire road.

Close to the end of Southern Marin Line, takes off to the left and jogs you back in a series of steppes to Blithedale Ridge. The flora along Hoo-Koo-E-Koo is chaparral. Manzanita with shiny silver dollar leaves and vibrant red bark, the last of the summer's Mimulus (Sticky Yellow Monkey Flower), and small creekbeds with ferns just livening back to life with the recent rains line the trail.

Hoo-Koo-E-Koo pops out onto Blithedale Ridge in all its brazen grandeur. Many may want to climb the quarter mile up to see over into the northlands. The view is fabulous! Back at the junction at Hoo-Koo-E-Koo we continue across Blithedale Ridge to savor more singletrack. Marin doesn't have a lot of fall color, but the quickening air surging up the mountain carries its own breath of fall. There are a few Big Leaf Maples along Southern Marin Line Fire Road that provide islands of yellow-gold leaves amongst the evergreens on the ridge.

Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Trail extends to meet Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Fire Road. At the Fire Road turn downhill to catch Corte Madera Creek Trail almost immediately on the left. Corte Madera Creek Trail criss-crosses its way steeply down the creek. This short half-mile trail ends onto Horseshoe Fire Road. Take a right to head downhill and junction with Old Railroad Grade. A left turn down the hill will take you back to the parking.

See the book "Hiking Marin: 141 Great Hikes in Marin County" for more details. Click here to go the Marin Trails website, where you can find more information about the book.

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