Marin Headlands Nature Tour

Discover the California marine environment, from tide pool creatures to marine mammals to shore birds. Visit seals, sea lions and otters at the Marine Mammal Center. Nearby trails open up the Coastal Range (mountains) to a drier habitat of bobcats, fence lizards and hawks. Explore hands-on exhibits for kids of all ages at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Visitor Center.

Located in an international "biosphere reserve," the Marin Headlands are the main component of the Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve, so designated by a wide range of plants and animals in a small area (less than 10 square miles, or approximately 2589 hectares).

Marin Headlands-Trail Overlooking Golden Gate Bridge
Marin Headlands Trail overlooking Golden Gate

Earthquake Geology

The area is well known to geologists throughout the world for its large ribbon chert rock exposures. Chert is a flint-like sedimentary rock which formed on the ocean floor, and is often found near earthquake fault exposures. These cracked and sinuous strata cover about one-half of the Marin Headlands, with easily visible fault intrusions.

Chert strata uplifted and folded by earthquake action, Marin Headlands, CA
Chert strata, uplifted and folded, Marin Headlands

Point Bonita Lighthouse on the Rugged Pacific

In addition to plentiful rock, plant and animal features, the Park accesses the nearby marine environment of the Pacific ocean, including peaceful Rodeo Lagoon, Kirby Cove beach, where semi-precious orbicular jasper can often be found washed up by the sea, and rugged, picturesque Point Bonita Lighthouse.

Point Bonita Lighthouse, Marin Headlands
Point Bonita Lighthouse, Marin Headlands

Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center

The Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center (undergoing renovation) located nearby, offers a rare up-close visit with pelagic pinapeds (fin-footed mammals living in the open sea). Although injured, recuperating in a hospital, most seals, sea lions, otters, dolphins and whales, are guided and released to the sea after a short stay to heal.

Marin Headlands overlooking Kirby Cove and the Golden Gate Bridge
Marin Headlands, overlooking Kirby Cove and the Golden Gate Bridge

Marin Headlands Tour Details

Mr. Sloan guides you with informed choices from the Headlands' wide assortment of seacliffs, beaches, mountain trails, riverine habitat, spectacular city views as well as exhibits showing the varied pioneer, military and natural history of the Headlands.

3 hours: Daily, 9 am & 2 pm

$100 - Per Adult. (Dollar amounts for tours are listed simply as guidelines for the various A Day in Nature tours.)

$50 - Per Senior (60+), Per Child (12 or under)

This tour can be done as a half-day tour, or in combination with another destination.

Muir Woods and Marin Headlands tours may be combined in one 4-1/2 hour tour at same rates.

Convenient, front-door pickup from downtown San Francisco hotels and nearby neighborhoods. Tours run in a sport utility vehicle. Binoculars, water & light refreshments supplied on the tour. Extra jackets, parkas, rain gear & hats available on the tour. Tours are never strenuous unless you insist! Fully licensed and insured.

We're sorry, but pets cannot accompany their owners on tours.

Contact Colin Sloan at A Day in Nature with questions or to book your tour, adayinnature@startmail.com, (415) 673-0548.