Winter Outdoor Guide to Marin County
Posted in Blogging Marin on Monday, November 8, 2021 by MCVB Staff
By Joe Kukura
Winter weather won’t bring you down in the Northern California wonderland of Marin County. Marin’s comfortable year-round climate features winter temperatures that rarely dip below 50 degrees. The “sunny side of the Golden Gate Bridge” makes a great weekend getaway destination, with the winter months featuring fewer tourists, less traffic and of course the famous, fresh-caught Dungeness crab in season at Marin’s best seafood restaurants.
Just north of San Francisco, Marin County is spectacularly situated for a winter break with mountains, the Pacific Coast and plenty of sunshine. Here’s a winter outdoor guide to Marin County, helping you decide what to do, what to wear and how the great outdoors are particularly great during winter.
Seashore and Wilderness Hiking
Hiking is always a treat in Marin County, with mountaintop views, redwood forests and the majestic Pacific Coast. But believe it or not, wintertime is when the lush months kick in across Marin’s natural wonders. In particular, waterfall hikes are gushing at full blast in the wintertime. The redwoods are never greener or grander than they are in the winter months at Samuel P. Taylor State Park, and quaint cabins are available year-round. And for ocean views featuring the Golden Gate Bridge and its famed fog, the Marin Headlands Coastal Trail offers miles of premier scenic vistas.
It’s no secret that kayaking in Marin County is a wonderful way to get outdoors in any season. Top kayaking destinations include the rich wildlife habitat of Corte Madera, the extremely popular Tomales Bay and its surrounding Point Reyes beaches. Rentals and lessons are available through Blue Waters Kayaking, and remember it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before heading to the water.
The winter weather is irresistible to a wide range of rare and spectacular wildlife, whose migratory patterns bring them to the shores and forests of Marin County this time of year. Most notably, whale watching peaks in the middle of January and extends well into February and March, as some 15,000 California gray whales swim their way north from Mexico. Point Reyes National Seashore and Point Reyes Lighthouse provide excellent whale-watching lookout points, and don’t be surprised when you see elephant seals and sea lions playing in the waters too.
Winter is also prime time for bird watching, with hundreds of species flying in for the season. The annual Point Reyes Christmas Bird Count is a seasonal mainstay, while the snowy egrets, winter wrens and many more take center stage at the Audubon Canyon Ranch. Significantly, the resurgent bald eagle population has been making many appearances the last few winters at Tomales Bay and the Bolinas Lagoon.
Dressing for Winter in Marin
Marin County is a land of magical micro-climates where temperatures can vary just a few miles apart. Fog can roll in frequently, and layers of clothing are highly recommended. There’s certainly no need for a heavy parka, but a windbreaker, watertight boots and an umbrella aren’t discouraged. The basics and some nice frills can all be found on a Marin County shopping trip, and you certainly won’t want to be without a camera and binoculars!
Those whales, seals and egrets who come back every year know something—that winter is an unbeatable time to visit Marin County. With the lush season in effect, wildlife migrating in from around the world and travel deals you can’t pass up, a Marin County winter getaway offers plenty to keep you warm.