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Mountain Theater and the Southwest Slope of Mount Tamalpais

The amazing theater and an afternoon hike on Tam's west slopes

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview :  This loop will visit the Mountain Theater and cover a portion of the southern side of Mount Tamalpais ("Mt. Tam").

The trail has... more »

Tips:  If the weather is threatening, bring suitable clothing to layer with. Much of this hill is exposed so wind protection can really help ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Parking

Start at the Pantoll Road to Rock Spring Parking Lot. Cross the road to the Old Mine Trail trail head.

It's at the intersection of Mountain Theater Road, E. Ridgetop Blvd (the road to the top of Mt. Tam), and Ridgecrest Blvd.

2. Trail Head

Gate and trail head are located on a gravel road heading up a grass slope.

3. Junction

Old Mine Trail and a side trail to Forbes Bench.

Take a quick side trip to the bench.

4. Forbes Bench

Sits under a tree and rock outcropping with a broad south and easterly view of the Bay Area.

The view includes the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands, San Francisco, down through the Santa Cruz Mountains, in the far distance it appears, down to Moffett Field and across to much of the East Bay shoreline.

Return to the trail and take the trail... More

5. Junction

Take the side trail to the theater.

On the way the trail passes through a forested area and crosses a service road and into the entrance of the Mountain Theater.

6. Mountain Theater

The Cushing Memorial Theater (a.k.a. The Mountain Theater) on Mt. Tam was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

The native-stone amphitheater seats 3,500 people and features the Mountain Play each spring. The theater group has been producing shows every year since 1913.

7. Junction

Rock Spring Trail and Bootjack Trail. Take the right hand fork of this old paved road down the edge of the theater on Bootjack. The next junction will be down by the changing rooms off the stage area.

8. Junction

Follow the Easy Grade to Old Stage Road. The trail is in a mixed forest area.

9. Breaking Out

Breaking out into grasslands from the oak and fir forest cover in a small valley. The transition is abrupt, like exiting a tunnel into a bright shallow valley with a view of across southern Marin.

10. View

The trail rounds a nose and spectacular Bay Area vistas will again open up that cover Mount Tam’s East Peak and sweep east and south to roughly Pacifica on the San Francisco Peninsula.

11. Junction

Old Mine Trail to Mountain Theater Trail and Riding Hiking trail to Easy Grade Trail. Head up the hill.

12. Viewpoint

Vista Point. This point is on a grass slope and high enough to look over the trees below and across the surrounding hilltops. The view sweeps from the southwest to the east.

13. Viewoint

Another Scenic overview. On this day the weather was threatening with storm clouds coming in off the Pacific. Spectacular clouds blowing in off the Pacific.

14. Junction

Old Mine Trail and Theater Trail (WP 5) the path is a retracement back to the point of beginning.

15. End of Walk

Return to the trailhead.