Happy New Year! The balmy January weather is giving Marinites a rare opportunity to run or hike in shorts and t-shirts in the mid-day sun. We have been sending our readers to sunny south-facing slopes for several hikes now, and this week is no exception. The hike heads up the steep and open grasslands of Bald Hill, over the top to Yolanda Trail and Six Points Junction, and then out along the southern facing Yolanda Trail to bask in the warmth.
The starting point is in Ross, at Natalie Coffin Greene Park. Even midweek, the parking may be full, so you could try starting at Ross Commons. After climbing up to the dam and going along the north side of Phoenix Lake, Worn Springs Fire Road heads up to the top of Bald Hill. It is a good, calf-burning climb that will warm you right up. Dressing in layers is a good idea. You WILL get down to a t-shirt if you go around mid-day.
Bald Hill offers peace and solitude for those New Year's reflections and has great views to provide perspective on life in Marin. To the top and over, the trail can be steep and slippery. It is about two miles up and over to the ridge that connects to Yolanda Trail. Yolanda is a sweet single track that winds along the contour of Bald Hill. First it runs through dappled woodlands, and then out into rocky crags and grasslands. A left at Six Points Junction brings you to the southern section of Yolanda high above Phoenix Lake. The view of Mt. Tamalpais is grand. She is a peaceful giant, the sleeping lady of lore. She calls out for you to stop for a look or a picnic to admire her serene profile. The trail is rocky and narrow, and in most places has a steep drop off. It requires nimble feet and good balance. Thus, looking at the view usually requires a stop.
The day we went this week, there were hikers and runners galore on the trail. That is to say, one or two groups; but they were the experienced outdoorsy types that knew how good a sunny, dusty trail can be on a clear January day.
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.