Canyon Open Space Preserve,
Marin County Open Space District,
2.2 mile out and back hike departs from the edge of a residential Larkspur neighborhood and leads to Dawn Falls.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 2.2 mile out and back hike is easy, with about 300 feet in elevation change. Trailhead elevation is about 160 feet, and the featured hike climbs to about 400 feet. There is a short moderately-steep stretch. Other hikes departing from this trailhead range from the easy end of moderate to tough, depending on far you trek.
1 hour or so.
Late winter and/or early spring are ideal for flowers and the waterfall.
From US 101 in Marin County, exit Paradise/Tamalpais Drive. Drive west on Tamalpais about 0.8 mile, then turn right at the stop sign onto Corte Madera. Drive about 0.6 mile (Corte Madera becomes Magnolia), then turn left onto Madrone Avenue (across from the Lark Creek Inn). Drive on narrow Madrone about 0.8 mile, to a small turnaround at the end of the road. If you're nervous about narrow roads or worried about getting lost, you may want to check out Google streetview before you head out -- but note that you won't have a cell signal on the road near the trailhead.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Pay phone, gas, stores, and restaurants in downtown Larkspur, or back in Corte Madera. No camping in the immediate area.
Parking is only permitted in the white-outlined roadside spaces. There are 5 spots about 30 feet from the trailhead, and a handful more back down the road. No parking or entrance fees. No drinking water, restrooms, or maps. No designated handicapped parking, and trails are not suitable to wheelchairs. There is no direct public transit to the preserve, but Golden Gate Transit buses run along Corte Madera Avenue past Madrone, and you could walk just under 1 mile to the trailhead.
Bikes are not allowed on the single trail departing from this trailhead. Some trails are signed hiking only, while others are open to hikers and equestrians. Dogs are permitted on this page's featured hike: in the open space preserve dogs are permitted on leash on trails; off leash under voice command on fire roads. Dog owners must have a leash for each dog. Dogs are not permitted on trails in Mount Tamalpais State Park.
The Official Story:
MCOSD's Baltimore Canyon page
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Download the Baltimore Canyon pdf map from the MCOSD website.
Trails of Mt. Tamalpais and the Marin Headlands, by Gerald Olmsted is a good map for exploring Baltimore Canyon and the surrounding parklands (order this map from Amazon.com).
Mount Tam Trail Map, published by Tom Harrison Maps (order from Tom Harrison Maps). Comparable to the Olmsted map.
Open Spaces: Lands of the Marin County Open Space District, by Barry Spitz (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and trail descriptions, and is very good guide to the smaller trails around Baltimore Canyon.
Hiking Marin by Don and Kay Martin (order this book from Amazon.com) has a good map and several suggested hikes.
Tamalpais Trails, by Barry Spitz (order this book from Amazon.com), is a good guide to the trails, and has a simple map (much of this information is also duplicated in Open Spaces).
View photos from this hike.
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
Canyon is one the prettiest places imaginable for a winter hike, when Larkspur Creek is engorged with storm runoff and
the trees are coated with lush moss. The preserve also provides cool shade
in summer, wildflowers in spring, and autumn color, courtesy of many big-leaf