The first time I did this hike was after work on a typical San Francisco summer day — read: cold, windy, and incredibly foggy. Expecting little in terms of comfort or views, I was amazed to find a warm, sunny, t-shirt-friendly atmosphere at the trailhead. If you’re in search of an easy-moderate hike with panoramic Bay views, that sits above the fog line, and has a fantastic (historic!) place to rest your feet, you’re in luck – the hike to the West Point Inn has it all.
Starting from the parking lot across from the Mountain Home Inn, cross the road and walk up the hill past the Throckmorton Fire Station. Continue several hundred feet until you pass the green water tank. In thirty feet, take a left at the Matt Davis trail sign. Follow the mostly shaded and level trail through the scattered small redwoods and manzanitas, weaving in and out of the sunshine and views of San Francisco. About a mile and a half into the trail, before crossing the second bridge, you’ll take a right onto the Nora trail. From here you’ll cross a bridge further upstream and begin the climb up through the forest in the direction of the West Point Inn. The large trees open up to chaparral for a portion of the trail as you climb up a series of steps with excellent ocean views behind you. After a handful of switchbacks (watch your footing on the protruding roots) you’ll reach your destination and discover the views were well worth the effort. Hike down the same way or follow the Old Railway Grade back down to the fire station. Note: the Hogback Fire Road is a gravel road with a long, steep decline that’s hard on the knees. If you have more time, you can opt for the Gravity Car Grade trail back.
About the Inn: Located on the southern slope of Mount Tamalpais, the West Point Inn, once a stop on the Mt. Tam Scenic Railway, is currently volunteer and member run. Aside from offering picnic tables, a wrap around porch with awe inspiring views, and 75¢ lemonade, the building still in fact functions as an inn. For $50 ($35 mid-week), you can reserve yourself a room in the historic inn or a bed in the private cabins. Free overnight parking is permitted across the street from the Mountain Home Inn. Backpack in and enjoy waking up to your own sunrise over the Bay.