Around town with Allison: Mount Tam, a nature lover’s paradise

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Miley Cyrus was right: It is the climb. Mount Tamalpais, better known as Mount Tam, is the perfect nature getaway. Located right in Marin County, this hiking destination is only an hour away from Berkeley. The beautiful thing about Mount Tam is that it really offers the best of all worlds. I’m talking about open grasslands, tall redwoods, waterfalls, amazing views of the coast and rolling hills. No matter what kind of trails you enjoy, you’re guaranteed to find a trail that suits all of your nature-loving needs. And even if you aren’t the most experienced hiker, Mount Tam offers many different trails for all hikers of all levels. Get ready for some killer views of the Bay, fresh mountain air and beautiful wildlife, because Mount Tam has all of these and even more!

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For a gorgeous 360-degree view of the Bay Area, head to the summit of East Peak for an easy hike on the Verna Dunshee Trail. If the ocean is calling to you, try the Steep Ravine and Dipsea trails for a challenging-but-well-worth-it hike to Stinson Beach. Cataract Falls is another popular hiking destination, known for its amazing waterfall. Out of all the waterfalls in Mount Tam, Cataract Falls is definitely the star. Parking is very limited at this spot, so be sure to get there early! No matter what trail you end up choosing, you’ll have breathtaking views that will definitely be Insta-worthy. No filters will be necessary with these remarkable scenic views, just a fun caption — like a hiking pun, because they are hill-areas. But I have to warn you: Finding a good hiking pun is an uphill battle.

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Pack a picnic for your hike or head down to Mill Valley after your hike for a refreshing juice or smoothie bowl from Nekter Juice Bar! Yes, you read that correctly — your SoCal favorite has a location in NorCal! There are a plethora of places to grab food from and explore when you are finished with your hike in the towns surrounding Mount Tam, including Mill Valley, San Rafael and Sausalito. Plan accordingly so you have a little time to explore off of the trails too!

If you’re looking for more than a day trip to Mount Tam, you also have the option of staying in cabins or campgrounds. If an ocean view is what your heart desires, check out the Steep Ravine campground that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The ultimate spot for beautiful sunsets, staying at this particular campground is on the wish list of many. Besides Steep Ravine, there are many other campgrounds in Mount Tam for your overnight stay. Just make sure to plan ahead because these spots are highly sought-after. What can I say — Mount Tam is the place to be!

Even though Mount Tam is only an hour away, it’ll feel like you’re worlds away from Berkeley. Nothing beats fresh air, gorgeous views, and great company! The next time you have a free weekend, grab your friends and pack your hiking shoes, because Mount Tam is calling your name. If you have friends who can’t accompany you on your weekend adventure, don’t worry. You can summit up for them but remember not to trail off.

Allison Fong writes the weekly blog column on places and activities to try in and around Berkeley. Contact her at [email protected].

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