The Marin Headlands are a mecca for trailrunning. After living here for about a year, I've been able to run on most (admittedly not ALL) of the trails. I've thrown together a map and some info that I hope will be helpful to other people
|Click for detail
I think of the headlands as several distinct regions. The trail network links all of these together, but they each have their own character, and each has one or two waypoints with parking, restrooms, and water. If you're planning a day hike, I'd recommend staying within one of the sections because they are separated by significant mountain ridges that can sneak up on you, especially when it's warm out.
If you're planning a long run and want some variation, cruise through the different zones - noting the water points so you can refill along the way :)
While all of the headlands get busy during peak season, Rodeo Valley is usually the busiest. It's the most accessible area from San Francisco and has a lot of beautiful walkable trails. There is a large parking lot, with bathrooms, showers, and water at the beach. SCA Trail runs along the east side of this region - it is a rolling trail with beautiful views. Battery Townsend is on the far west side and climbs up to Wolf Ridge, which separates Rodeo and Tennessee valleys. Look for wildlife, like coyotes, and really cool plants, like fennel fern, along the trails in this area.
|Looking to TV Beach from Old Springs.
|An evening view of Mt. Tam from Coastal Trail heading towards Cardiac.
|The Ben Johnson Trail.
This section gets busy with tourists. But go early in the morning and have the trails to yourself! While it can be hot on the exposed Coastal trail, the huge redwood trees keep this area cool and shady. The trails are soft and super fun to run down from Cardiac or Pantoll - but be prepared to climb out. Lost trail is beautiful and painful - with lots of stairs - and it brings you up to Sun Trail, one of my favs.
|Running along Matt Davis during the Marin Ultra Challenge.
Bathrooms and parking are right on the beach. The trails stay a bit inland, so plan on a little detour to the beach if you need to use the bathrooms or refill your water. Getting out of Stinson involves climbing (sensing a theme here in the headlands?) The trails here are all renown (notorious?) Willow Camp is soul-crushingly steep. Plan on taking breaks on your way up, unless you're in great shape. Matt Davis is one of the headlands' most beautiful trails. and is mostly flat/rolling. Dipsea is historic - with good reason, but involves ladders and stairs. You'll get a workout wherever you go in this area.
|Looking towards East Peak from the junction of Old Railroad Grade and Hoo Koo E Koo.
I hope this helps people new to the area or interested in visiting! If I've made a mistake, please let me know :) Happy trails!