San Francisco Chronicle
What you see: Rodeo Beach provides a gorgeous oceanfront expanse nestled in a wide cove that backs up Rodeo Lagoon. At the north end of the beach is a Coastal Trail trailhead that leads to Wolf Ridge and 1,053-foot Hill 88 for a spectacular 360-degree panorama of the Marin Headlands, Pacific Coast, the ocean and — to the northeast — up the flank of Mount Tamalpais.
Location: Rodeo Beach is on the Marin Coast just beyond Rodeo Lagoon in the Marin Headlands, a destination site in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
When you get there: There is a large parking area at the end of the entrance road (on the right), as you arrive past Rodeo Lagoon. Parking is also available along Rodeo Lagoon on your left, and also near Fort Cronkhite (on your right) at large lots off Bunker Road (on your right) near the Marine Mammal Center.
Rodeo Beach: A gorgeous beach set in a half-moon cove, it’s the kind of place where you can take a seat and watch the waves without a care in the world. This is where the Marine Mammal Center often releases rehabilitated animals. The cove is bordered by Tennessee Point to the north and Bird Island to the south, each with gorgeous lookouts accessible by short hikes.
Dogs: Dogs are permitted, including off leash if under instant voice command.
Hill 88 Loop: The 5.5-mile loop, with a 1,000-foot climb on the way up. The trailhead starts at the end of the gated service road, the Coastal Trail, just past the foot of Rodeo Lagoon. It climbs, steeply at times, to Wolf Ridge and a spur on the right to Hill 88. Turn right for 0.1 of a mile, where you reach a concrete bunker and a sweeping view. To turn into a loop hike, return to Wolf Ridge, turn right and, in 1.3 miles at the Miwok Trail, turn right again. That is routed down to Gerbode Valley and back along Rodeo Lagoon (and the road) to parking.
Dogs: Leashed dogs are permitted, but not on the short spur to Hill 88 itself.
Maps/brochure: Park map/ brochure, at Visitor Centers, PDF at nps.gov/goga; detailed trail map, “South Marin,” $9.95, www.tomharrisonmaps.com. Cost: Parking, access free.
Contact: Marin Headlands Visitors Center, located near foot of Rodeo Lagoon, (415) 331-1540, www.nps.gov/goga.