Golden Gate NRA, Tennessee Valley


What? : Tennessee Valley trail will take you through the small valley down to the Pacific Ocean secluded cove.


Where? : Located at the north section of Golden Gate NRA Marin Headlands. The entrance is trough Tennessee Valley road exiting hwy 1 (just after you are taking hwy 1 exist from the 101 north).

Google Map Link


When? : Year round.


Due note 1: Swimming at the beach is dangerous !


Due note 2: At weekend this may be crowded.


Due note 3: Dogs, even on leash, are not allowed on any trails in Tennessee Valley


My thoughts: Although this is an easy trail that will take you to a small beach cove, I visit here only one time.

The visit:

In the spring, the vegetation of the valley is lush and green and/or blooming, in summer, the grasses turn golden. Along the way, you’ll hike past shrublands, wetlands, and a lake before you get to a cool little secluded beach.


At north side of the beach there is a small old bunker high at the cliff, nice viewing point.


Some history:

At 1853 SS Tennessee vessel went right up onto the beach at what is now Tennessee Cove. All 550 passengers climbed safely off the ship onto dry land. There was even time to salvage 14 chests of gold before heavy surf broke the Tennessee’s oak hull to pieces at the southern end of the cove.


The Hike:

Tennessee Valley 1.7-mile trail one way will take you through the small valley down to the Pacific Ocean. The valley is surrounded by rolling hills ridges from both sides, there are hiking option that will take you to the ridges top.

The trail to the beach begins at the trailhead parking lot, about a mile down on Tennessee Valley Road.

The trail itself is partially paved road so it is kid/family friendly.

The small beach blocked by large rock bluffs on both sides. During low tide, it is possible to get to the southern small sandy beach.


For more serious long hiking options, head uphill on one of the trails starting near the parking area, go to the ridge top and circle back down to the valley. You can do this both to the south or to the north.