Crown Road Hike in Kentfield: Marin County Loop Hikes

Beautiful trail light Hoo Koo E Koo Trail

Looking for a dog-friendly hike with easy access, beautiful views, and lots of options? The Crown Road loop hike is a great hike here in Marin County for you to consider. It is also one of the most popular trails in central Marin and if you live here you are likely to run into someone you know. Just today I heard a woman on her cell phone at Rustic Bakery on Magnolia saying “OK, meet you at Crown Road at 10.”

Despite its popularity, the trails leading from Crown Road never feel crowded unlike the extremely-popular Tennessee Valley hike to the south, even on weekends. You can also choose from the relatively-flat Southern Marin Fire Road, or if you want to add some elevation and have more of a workout, turn it into a loop hike by taking the Hoo Koo E Koo trail, which is my favorite name for a trail… EVER!

CROWN ROAD HIKE — GETTING THERE

The hike that locals refer to as “Crown Road” is really an assortment of fire roads and regular trails on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais above Kentfield accessed from a trail head at the end of Crown Road.

From Hwy 101 in Larkspur, take the exit for Sir Francis Drake Blvd west 2.1 miles. Turn left onto College Ave, right onto Woodland Rd, left onto Evergreen Dr. Continue uphill to the intersection with Ridgecrest; 50-feet uphill from this junction, left onto Crown Road, and follow to end (dead end). There is room to turn around at the dead end and parking is along the street (parallel parking). If it is a weekend and you have to park a bit away, just consider that part of your hike!

There are times that parking fills up, and if so you may turn off your car and wait for someone to leave. People come and go often at Crown Road so the wait shouldn’t be too long. Please remember to be respectful of the nearby neighbors and keep noise to a minimum.

CROWN ROAD HIKE QUICK FACTS

  • Gorgeous views: Mt. Tam, Greenbrae, Larkspur, San Rafael, the Bay
  • About 1.5 hours / 6 miles
  • Fairly well-signed and easy to follow – pay special attention on the fire road for the turnoff back down
  • No drinking fountains or restrooms
  • Poison oak plentiful on the Hoo Koo E. Koo trail. Protrudes into trail but avoidable.
  • Fire road: dogs under voice command – click here for a list of dog-friendly hiking locations
  • Dogs on leash on Hoo Koo E. Koo Trail
  • Excellent cell service
  • Wheelchair access: yes on fire roads, challenging to impossible on Hoo Koo E. Koo trail
  • Long pants recommended due to presence of ticks. Watch dogs especially during coyote mating season.
  • Garbage / recycling cans provided. Dog waste bags provided.
  • Parts of the Southern Marin Line Fire Road will be under construction through the end of 2018. Watch signage for details and detours.

CROWN ROAD CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

The Marin Municipal Water District has announced that parts of the Southern Marin Line fire road (which everyone calls Crown Road) will be closed from 7 am to 5 pm weekdays through the end of 2018.

Here are the details from their news release:

Southern Marin Line Road (Crown Road)
• This road is located on Marin County Open Space lands. As such, MMWD is coordinating with Marin County Parks closely on this project. For questions regarding this project, contact Superintendent Brian Sandord (415) 473-7443.
• Two slides – One slide approximately a half mile south of the end of Crown Road (SM-13). The other approximately 600 feet south of the end of Crown Road (SM-3).
• MMWD’s 24-inch Southern Marin transmission pipeline is in the road and its stability is threatened by the slides.
• Work schedule: Work at SM-13 will run from August 6 – October 1. Work at SM-3 will run from October 1 – December 30.
• Access: There will be no public access allowed on Crown Road between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Access may be allowed after 5 p.m. until sundown and on weekends if conditions allow.

CROWN ROAD HIKE MAP

There are a variety of hikes one can take from the Crown Road trailhead depending on amount of time and other factors. This hike takes about 1.5 hours and provides a good workout and scenic views. Highlighted above in yellow is the first half of the loop, the Hoo Koo E. Koo Trail, which then joins the Blithedale Ridge Fire Road and then loops back (highlighted in red) to the Crown Road trailhead on the Southern Marin Line Fire Road.

CROWN ROAD HIKE OVERVIEW

Park along Crown Road in the parallel parking spaces along the side of the road. If spaces are full, you may turn off your engine and wait for someone to leave. Please keep voices down and be respectful of the neighbors.

After parking, enter the fire road through the trailhead gate. If you are walking dogs, there are bags to the right. There is a sign with the latest trail updates and a map. Take a moment to review in case there is trail work (scheduled for the balance of 2018 in some sections) or if there are wildlife issues you need to know about.

A few minutes later, you will see the Hoo Koo E Koo trail to the right and you’ll begin your ascent, paralleling the fire road you just left. The trail is a single-track trail and climbs through a beautiful forest. Watch for poison oak which does protrude into the trail.

Please scroll down to see the visual walkthrough below.

CROWN ROAD LOOP PHOTO WALKTHROUGH

Crown Road Hike Trailhead

Pictured above is the trailhead for what most in central Marin call “the Crown Road hike” which is actually the Southern Marin Line Fire Road at the end of Crown Road.

Crown Road Hike First part of fire road

This is usually the busiest part of the trail with hikers and neighborhood dog walkers. However we are about to leave them all behind with our trail to the right coming up soon…

Crown Road Hike first peek of Mt Tamalpais

Within the first five minutes of this hike we are treated with a peek-a-boo view of Mount Tam. We will be getting much closer as we ascend!

Crown Road Hike Turn off at Hoo Koo E Koo Trailhead

About 5 minutes into the hike you’ll see this turnoff to the right for the Hoo Koo E Koo trail, which  you should take to begin the loop. There are more dog waste bags here as well as a garbage can.

Early part of Hoo Koo E Koo Trail

This is fairly typical of the trail at first before it goes into a more densely shaded area then comes out in the sun up near the top. Watch for the poison oak protruding into the trail!

Beautiful trail light Hoo Koo E Koo Trail

My friend and I gasped when we saw the light coming through the trees as they arch over the Hoo Koo E. Koo trail.

Intersection with Dawn Falls Trail on left

This is the intersection with the Dawn Falls Trail to the left. Keep going straight here.

Getting some elevation on Hoo Koo E Koo Trail

The views begin to peek through the trees as we ascend…

Intersection with Blithedale Ridge Fire Road

The trail ends at the Blithedale Ridge Fire Road and we turn left here and walk along the much wider and sunnier fire road.

Blithedale Ridge Fire Road heading east

As we head east on the Blithedale Ridge Fire Road there are some level stretches and some very steep parts of the hike.

Woman with arms in air and Mount Tam in background

Mount Tamalpais seems close enough to touch at this point! My friend from back east was blown away by the beauty of Marin County.

Intersection Horseshoe Fire Road to right and Blithedale Fire Road staright
Blithedale Fire Road before Three Way Junction

Above left we see the intersection with the Horseshoe Fire Road to right. Keep going straight on the Blithedale Ridge Fire Road until you come to the intersection pictured above in the right photo.

Three way intersection - turn left here to go down

This is the three-way intersection of the Blithedale Ridge Fire Road and the Southern Marin Line Fire Road. Turn left here and begin going down. If you’re not sure you’re at the right spot, look for the big electric pole with the number “14” sprayed on it.

Intersection of Southern Marin Fire Road Turn Left

After descending a bit you will come on this little utility building. Turn left here and you will be on the Southern Marin Line Fire Road, heading back to where you parked at the Crown Road trailhead.

Fire road headed back to trailhead

The fire road headed back is mostly-level and filled with bicyclists and dog walkers on weekends.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my article about the Crown Road Loop Hike. If this is your first visit to my Marin Real Estate and Lifestyle Blog, please have a look at my other articles. They all feature original articles about the things that make Marin County such a great place to live — restaurants, hikes, and even profiles of those who live here. Also in my blog is my monthly Marin real estate market update. Should you have any real estate questions or needs, please call or text me at 415.847.5584 and I’ll be in touch right away. Otherwise, I will see you on the trails!

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