Mount Tamalpais: A Hiking Experience to Try

Mount Tamalpais: A Hiking Experience to Try

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As fun and rewarding as hiking can be, it comes with its fair share of rules. To get the fullest experience out of your hiking trip, your apparel must be carefully considered. In fact, this is one of the most common mistakes made among beginners. Not just anything will do.

What’s more, not every hiking trip requires the same kind of apparel, even though there is overlap.

Looking at Mount Tamalpais, specifically, here’s some helpful tips regarding what you should wear during your hiking trip.


What Should You Wear for Hiking Up Mount Tamalpais?

Let’s get right to the point. Your clothing has more to do with hiking than you think. You could be the mostpsychically fit, experienced hiker, but if you don’t apparel yourself correctly, you’re going to have a rough time out there.

Given that Mount Tamalpais State Park has more than 60 miles of trails, it could be easy for your poor apparel to cripple your trip.

To stop that from happening, here’s some fashion advice for hiking, from your boots to your hat:

1. Lightweight Boots or Durable Shoes


Mount Tamalpais doesn’t have any extremely demanding trails, so you won’t be needing any heavy-duty boots. In fact, it’s best to wear lightweight boots, as they strike a good balance between comfortability and sturdiness.

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If you don’t have any lightweight boots, then a good, robust pair of shoes will do the job just fine. Don’t get too comfortable with your nice boots or shoes, however, as you should still be watching your step.

2. Flexible Pants

a man wearing a flexible pants

Considering the fact that hiking involves a lot of moving, twisting and turning, it only makes sense that your pants offer plenty of maneuverability.

Wearing tight pants might work out when going back and forth from home to work, but on a mountain trail, your comfort factor is going to degrade quickly.

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As far as material, you’ll want to wear something thick, or else they could risk being ripped by any jagged rocks or stray branches.

For women, Self Magazine’s Gray Chapman even suggests yoga pants as a hiking alternative, due to their comfort. On the other hand, they might rip easily.

3. T-Shirt or Thin Jacket

a guy posing on a hiking trail

Like the nearby city of San Francisco, which is less than an hour away, Mount Tamalpais has fairly mild weather conditions. Also, because the mountain is only at an elevation of 2,571 feet, the weather conditions don’t reach the extremes toward the summit as other mountains do.

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While we’re on the subject, the tallest mountain in California is Mount Whitney, which clocks in at 14,505 feet. You’re going to need more than a jacket up there.

With Mount Tamalpais’ elevation in mind, the weather will be cool, but not freezing, so a light jacket should do the job. Those with thicker skin should be okay with a t-shirt, but a jacket is always preferable when braving the outdoors.

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On the other hand, cotton is a big no-no when it comes to hiking. This is because cotton doesn’t do well with water, so if it rains or you get wet, you’re not going to be comfortable. Plus, cotton is going to hold on to water, which will cause you to get quite cold.

4. A Hat Never Hurts

a hat

When hiking, it always helps to have a hat. The hat will keep the sun out of your eyes and off your face, which is immensely helpful for long periods of hiking.

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Wide-brimmed hats are most effective, but any hat with a brim is going to do the job just fine. A nice pair of sunglasses will round out your headwear arsenal. As always, prioritize function over style.

What Should You Bring Hiking Up Mount Tamalpais?

One object you should definitely wear, but wasn’t present in the list above, is a backpack. This is because what you bring on your hike up Mount Tamalpais is just as important as what you wear.

With that in mind, here’s a list of absolute necessities when hiking any trail or any mountain:

1. Navigational Materials 


Even if you’re absolutely positive that you know where you’re going, you should always bring a physical map and compass with you.

While your phone can certainly prove useful, there’s no guarantee that it won’t run out of battery or be able to connect to the internet.

Not only will the map help you keep track of your location, but it will also keep you notified of nearby points of interests, such as bathrooms, rest areas or scenic lookouts. A map is particularly useful at Mount Tamalpais, as the area is famously foggy year-round.

2. Plenty of Food and Water

hiker pouring food on a cup

It’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared, which is why you should always fill your backpack with plenty of snacks and water. This will keep you hydrated and nourished during your body during the hike, which is extremely important when braving nature’s elements.

Water is especially important, considering the fact that you’ll probably be sweating and need to rehydrate yourself, according to Jeff Doran from

Even for short hikes, you should bring some food and water, because you never know what might happen. Again, be prepared for even the most unlikely situation. If you bring too much food and can’t possibly eat it all, offer some to somebody else. Chances are, somebody’s hungry.

3. Tools of the Trade

complete hiking gear

Every hiker absolutely needs to have the means to start a fire. Whether it’s a lighter, a fire starter or some old fashioned flint and steel, you could very well find yourself in a situation where fire is needed, particularly at night when it gets colder.

If the worst comes to the worst, you can always use a fire to create a beacon for your location. In related tools, a flashlight can be indispensable at night.

A first aid kit is a must-have, as there’s always the possibility that you or someone with you could get a scrape or a scratch. It doesn’t have to be a serious injury for a first aid kit to be handy, as even the mildest of cuts can become cumbersome, especially when you have hiking to do.

Plus, when you’re outside, wounds can become easily infected and a first aid kit will have plenty of disinfectant.

It doesn’t get much better than the Swiss Army knife, which can provide a number of different tasks on a trail. Whether you need cloth to be ripped, splinters to be removed, or food needs to be cut – a Swiss Army knife can do it all. If all you have is a plain knife, then that should do the trick just fine.

Getting to Know Mount Tamalpais

Before embarking upon any hiking trip, it’s important to know the area, backwards and front. In this case, with Mount Tamalpais, there is much to keep in mind.

First of all, it’s located in Mount Tamalpais State Park, which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. The area is filled with oak trees, dense woodland areas, and grasslands.

In the summer, average temperatures are usually in the high 70s, and in the winter, the average temperatures are in the 50s. This makes the mountain a great place to visit any time of the year, unlike other mountains farther north, which become inhospitable in the winter months.

Trails were developed around Mount Tamalpais after the gold rush around 1848. In the late 19th century, visitors were taken to the summit on a small railway, which, due to its circular course up the mountain, became known as the “crookedest railroad in the world.”

In more recent years, the Mount Tamalpais State Park has grown to 6,300 acres.

Some geologists believe that Mount Tamalpais is actually the remnant of a long-dead volcano, while others believe it was created by way of the San Andreas Fault, which is notoriously active. One of the most common types of rock in this area is the serpentine, which happens to be the official state rock of California.

Mount Tamalpais has also been immortalized in the writings of Jack Kerouac, the famed beat writer of “On the Road.” It’s actually his book, “The Dharma Bums,” that mentions the mountain specifically. The Culture Trip’s Susan Blick even suggests reading the book as an alternative to making the trip to the actual mountain.

Mount Tamalpais

Hike with Confidence Up and Down Mount Tamalpais

Hiking should be about having fun, getting exercise, and enjoying nature.

But before you can have fun, you need to make sure you’re prepared. Otherwise, your fun could come to a grinding halt when you realize you’re only a third of the way up the mountain and your feet are killing you because you decided to wear flipflops.

In addition to clothing, you should also wear a backpack, where you can store all of your outdoor tools, such as flashlights, lighters and maps. To lessen the likelihood that you’ll need any of these tools, be sure to do research on your hiking destination before actually embarking upon it.

With these helpful tips about what to wear, what to bring and being well acquainted with your area of choice, hopefully nothing ever gets in the way of your good time. And if something does, you’ll always have a Swiss Army knife.

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