Gerbode Valley

rocky, wild flower, and grass filled hills lead to the pacific coast

Attention hikers! This wide-open valley in the rolling Marin Headlands is all views. This five-mile loop in the rolling Marin Headlands connects to a network of other trails that rise and fall gently through grassland and coastal chapparal. Keep your eye out for bobcats, bush rabbits and other wildlife.

Tips and Highlights

  • Park at the Smith Parking Lot, across the street from The Presidio Riding Club along Bunker Road.

  • Take a backcountry hike partway up the Bobcat or Miwok trails.

  • Keep a sharp eye out for bobcat on a warm day or deer at twilight.

  • Enjoy the wildflower extravaganza each spring.


Though bobcats (Lynx rufus) are largely creatures of the night, they can often be seen in the Headlands during the early morning or evening hours-perhaps hunting rodents or rabbit. Bobcat paw marks and scat dot the Headlands, but many mistake their tracks for those of the more elusive mountain lion. Bobcats are most likely to be seen in the Gerbode and Tennessee valleys on nice spring and summer days.

Coyotes (Canis latrans) frequent Gerbode Valley as they hunt bush rabbits and ground squirrels. Look for their tracks and scat on the trails! Canine (dog) tracks differ from feline (cat) tracks in two key ways: 1) Canine tracks have claw marks, feline tracks do not 2) The front of a canine heel pad has 1 lobe, whereas the front of a feline heel pad has two lobes. Coyotes are essential to health of Marin Headland's ecosystem!

The Marin Headlands is a stop along the Pacific Flyway, a migration route traveled by at least a billion birds every year. Look overhead for soaring turkey vultures, osprey, hawks, kites, and eagles. California quails frequently rustle through the bushes. Hermit thrush visit in winter, and populate the Headlands with their strikingly beautiful and haunting song.

In the spring, Marin's headlands, hills, and valleys burst with color. The area's foggy coast and dry interior, its hodgepodge of soils, and its many fresh and saltwater zones provide an unusual diversity of wildflower species. Some of the best flower walks are on the Point Bonita Lighthouse, Tennessee Valley, Coastal, Wolf Ridge, and Miwok trails.

As part of a parkwide effort to replace invasive species with natives, the National Park Service has been planting native bunch grass in the valley, once overrun by hoof-proof grazing grasses introduced by the Spanish.


Looking For More Information

  • Marin Headlands Map
    Marin Headlands Map

    Discover Gerbode Valley’s hiking trails and other information.

  • Fort Barry nestled in green hills with Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco behind
    Fort Barry

    Places within Fort Barry include the Visitor Center, Bicentennial Campground, and the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

Last updated: September 29, 2021

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Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Building 201, Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123-0022


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