ACREAGE: 6,300 acres
VISITATION: 564,000 visitors in FY 2003
EMPLOYEES: Mt. Tamalpais is managed by California State Parks Rangers, Maintenance staff, and supported by many volunteers and interpretive docents.
NATURAL RESOURCES: Home to several rock-types; sandstone(graywacke), shale, greenstone, chert, quartz, tourmaline, and the green serpentine, which is the state rock of California. Mt. Tam is also a host to a number of plants; more than 750 species, including both the Coast Redwood and the delicate Calypso Orchid, Oak, Chaparral, Douglas Fir and California Laurel Tan Oak. Mt. Tam’s hillsides are sprinkled with California poppies, many species of lupine, all shades of Douglas iris, blue-eyed grass, goldfields, shooting stars, spotted coral root, fetid adder’s tongue, Pacific trillium. Home to many animals; raccoons, gray foxes, squirrels, bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions, and black-tailed deer. Red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, great horned, spotted, barn and screech owls, woodpeckers, Steller’s jays and black ravens.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railroad was completed in 1896 and ran from Mill Valley to the East Peak summit. A hotel, restaurant, and dance hall followed shortly to make Mt. Tam a popular destination around the turn of the century until 1930, when automobiles became to favored mode of transportation. Called the “Crookedest Railroad in the World‚” the ride up the mountain was only surpassed by the ride down the mountain in a Gravity Car. These 30-passenger cars had only a brakeman to control the roller-coaster descent back to Mill Valley or Muir Woods.
RECREATIONAL RESOURCES: Within the park, more than sixty miles of trails meander through the Park’s landscape and connect with a 200 mile trail network through adjacent public lands. The 3500 seat Cushing Memorial Theater, 2,000 feet above San Francisco Bay, has been the site of the annual Mountain Play since 1913. For information, contact the Mountain Play Association at 415-383- 1100. Group camping is available at Alice Eastwood Group Camp and the Frank Valley Horse Camp. Reservations through Reserve America at 800-444-7275. Adjacent to the Pantoll Ranger Station are 16 individual walk-in campsites (available on a first come first serve basis). The beautiful Steep Ravine area, located on a rocky headland two miles south of Stinson Beach, offers primitive overnight camping. There are six environmental campsites and ten rustic cabins. Steep Ravine is a very popular campground and reservations are required (Note that Steep Ravine is listed under Environmental Camping for Mt. Tamalpais, when you call Reserve America).
HISTORY: Many people believe that the 2,571-foot peak is the remains of an extinct volcano. Geologists have decided that Mt. Tamalpais was created by the process of buckling and folding within the earth’s crust. The San Andreas Fault lies offshore to the west, marking the division between two large pieces of the Earth’s crust: the North American Plate and the Pacific plate. The Pacific plate is moving eastward and down under the North American plate, thus uplifting Mt. Tam and the Coast Range.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call Pantoll Ranger Station at 415-388-2070