5 Backpacking Adventures North of San Francisco in Marin County

Wild escapes over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Work hard during the week and play hard on the weekends...sound familiar? There are few places better suited to living the indoor/outdoor lifestyle to the max than San Francisco Bay Area. 

Snap your laptop closed on Friday afternoon, throw your backpacking gear in the car, and you could be at a backpacking trailhead less than an hour later. Does it get any better than that?

When you're ready to escape, simply look north over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County. Marin County is an adventure haven, filled with trails for hiking and dog-romping, beaches for relaxing, and waterways for paddling. Whether you're a beginner backpacker or an experienced backcountry camper, there is something for you in Marin County. Here are a few of The Outbound community's favorites.

Adventure by Miranda Leconte

Year-round camping on a grassy meadow overlooking the Pacific Ocean is what awaits at Wildcat Camp. At 5.7-miles one-way from the Palomarin trailhead, this backpack is ideal for beginners, but will also keep experienced hikers entertained with nearly 2,000-feet of elevation gain. Permits are required to stay at Wildcat Camp, so be sure to plan ahead.

Adventure by Jeff Driscoll

Experience everything from sweeping views of Drakes Bay to seaside camping on this 15-mile loop through Point Reyes National Seashore. Keep your eye out for migrating whales, wildflower-filled meadows, and the neat rock formations on Sculptured Beach. A permit is required for overnight camping.

Adventure by Skyler Hardy

First time carrying in your own gear for a night sleeping under the stars? Make it easy on yourself with the quick, 2.2-mile hike to Sky Campground. Sleep with the sound of the ocean waves nearby while breaking in your gear. Like all backcountry camping options in Point Reyes National Seashore, a night at Sky Campground requires a permit.


Adventure by Jeff Driscoll

Forest bathing, coastal lakes, and beachside hiking are the name of the game on the 17-mile Glen Camp loop. After a night in the wind-blocking comfort of the forests around Glen Camp, you'll walk out through beautiful coastal forests back to your car. Don't forget to grab your permit to camp at Glen Camp.

Adventure by Brian Heifferon

Leave your car at home and hop on a ferry from San Francisco or Oakland to Angel Island. Angel Island, which is off the coast of Tiburon, is the perfect escape from the city (and the city views are pretty great, too!). Eleven campsites, including an ADA accessible campsite, are situated between one and one-and-a-quarter miles from the ferry dock. Bring friends...or just have them join you for a BBQ at your site before sending them back to the city and enjoying a solo night under the stars.

Cover photo by Brian Heifferon

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Sara SheehyAdmin

Writer | Nomad