The Gold Hill Fire Road Trail | Hiking Marin County

The Gold Hill Fire Road Trail climbs San Pedro Mountain in San Rafael and is one of the lesser-known hiking areas in Marin County. The trail features a moderate to steep climb, stunning views of San Rafael and all of Marin County, and is a great place for dog walkers as well as cyclists. Since it is a fire road to be used in the event of emergency, it is nice and wide with plenty of room for everyone. I recently hiked this trail for the first time and enjoyed it so much I decided to write an article about my new favorite Marin hike.

20 Minutes Into the Gold Hill Fire Road Trail Hike – A Great Spot for a Rest

Bench on Gold Hill Fire Road Trail with Mt. Tamalpais in background

Gold Hill Fire Road Trail Quick Facts

  • Bicycles and dogs on leash permitted
  • Plenty of poison oak but does not protrude into trail
  • Parking on Locust Avenue can be limited, especially on weekends
  • First 10 minutes of trail can be muddy during rainy season
  • Excellent cell service
  • Moderate to steep grade
  • No garbage or water facilities – bring water and provisions as needed
  • Views: Mt. Tamalpais, Richmond San Rafael Bridge, East Bay, San Rafael

Gold Hill Fire Road Trail: My Hike

Visitors to my open house at 215 Locust Avenue in San Rafael raved about the trail so I knew I had to try it. Access is fairly easy with off-street parking for about 10 vehicles located near the trail head at the end of Locust Avenue. I checked it out on a Sunday morning and the parking was already full at 10 am but there is also parking along Locust Avenue a few hundred feet from the Gold Hill Fire Road trail start.

The Gold Hill Fire Road Trail Head

Trailhead at Gold Hill Fire Road Trail

The trail starts off flat before it begins to climb the mountain. If there have been rains recently, this part of the trail is likely to be muddy so dress accordingly.

Start of Gold Hill Fire Road Trail

The trail soon begins to climb, first gently and then at a more steep ascent. Eucalyptus trees are the main tree species on this part of the trail, but you will see California Live Oak and California Bay Laurel trees as well, and some nice stands of Pacific Madrone as you climb the mountain.

Photo of trail with eucalyptus

As the Eucalyptus trees begin to thin, you will see some marvelous peek-a-boo views of Mt. Tamalpais before she emerges in her full glory farther up the trail.

View of Mt. Tamalpais from Gold Hill Fire Road

The Eucalyptus give way and the trail dries out as you ascend…..

Photo of trail incline with green grass and blue sky

With the trees gone, it’s much easier to see the trail above you — the switchbacks that take you up San Pedro Mountain. (Incidentally, this hill and trail is visible from the back of 215 Locust Avenue in San Rafael.)

View of trail from below

At the Top of San Pedro Mountain

Depending on your pace, in about 45 minutes time you will reach the top of the mountain, and have views north, south, east and west. There is a cell phone tower facility as well as what appears to be a TV or radio transmitter station. Needless to say, the cell phone reception is fantastic!

View of Richmond San Rafael Bridge
Trail marker on Gold Hill Fire Road Trail

At the top signs indicate that the road is now the Bayhills Fire Road. The Bayview Fire Road branches off from here and proceeds down the mountain towards the Peacock Gap area of San Rafael. A quick 5 minute walk down this trail yields a gorgeous view of Peacock Gap and the East Bay in the distance. Not to be missed.

The Bayview Trail looking back towards the Bayhills trail.

Trail near cell phone tower

View of Peacock Gap and the East Bay from the Bayview trail. After shooting this photo we turned around and re-traced our steps back to the Gold Hill Fire Road trail head.

Aerial view of Peacock Gap Community with East Bay in Background

We did not make it to the abandoned Nike Missile RADAR site which I understand is another 15 minutes up the Bayhills trail. I hope to make it there next time! You can read this article for more information on getting up to the Nike site as well as turning this into a loop hike if you have time.

Hiking back down the forest canopy again enveloped us with its cool shade, welcome even on a winter’s day. Note this was a “busy” Sunday on the trail. We perhaps saw 10 people in our 1.5 hours of hiking.

Tree-lined trail in San Rafael California Marin County

Gold Hill Fire Road Trail: Getting There

The Gold Hill Fire Road trail head is at the end of Locust Avenue in San Rafael. If you are driving, please be respectful of the neighbors — this is a quiet residential area with children playing in the street. Please drive slowly and keep noise to a minimum.

I hope you have found my article on the Gold Hill Fire Road hike interesting. I do not pretend to be an expert hiker but I do love all the trails here in Marin County and enjoy telling others about my favorites. If you have comments / additions / tips to add to this hike walkthrough, please add them in the comments section below. They are much appreciated. As always, I am available via text or phone at 415.847.5584 to discuss your real estate needs.

2 replies
  1. Judy LeMarr
    Judy LeMarr says:

    Love the Quick Facts section. I’ve been looking for a new favorite hiking trail and it sounds like this might be it. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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