The Alta Trail uses an old fire road to connect Sausalito to the eastern Marin Headlands. With links to several other trails through the Headlands, the Alta Trail is a pawfect starting point for a longer journey to the waterfront.
Though the trailheads for the Alta are suburban, the trail itself is located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The GGRNA boasts natural beauty and views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and best of all, it claims to be the most dog-friendly national park in the USA. That means Fido and Fifi can skip the leash as long as they remain in sight and voice control at all times.
Parking can be a challenge for the Alta Trail. Though there is no dedicated parking at the southern Wolfback Ridge Rd trailhead, limited street parking is available. The dead-end on Donahue Rd, Alta Avenue's northern starting point, has several parking spots. You can also reach the trail at its midpoint via the connecting Rodeo Trail from trailhead parking on Redwood Drive.
Wherever you hop on, you'll enjoy a gradual climb into the Headlands. Though some sections are steeper, the average grade is 3 percent. Even lap dogs can handle this climb as the smooth trail surface makes your ascent manageable. From high points on the trail, you'll have views over Sausalito, Richardson Bay, and a sea of rolling green hills. In spite of its proximity to the city, this moderately-trafficked trail is quite peaceful: If you visit during off-peak hours, you and your buddies may have the trail all to yourselves.
To work your way farther west and connect to the more heavily-used areas in the GGRNA, catch the connecting Bobcat Trail. You can circle back to the Alta along the Bobcat and Miwok Trail loop, or continue west on the Miwok to reach Bunker Road and the Marin Headlands Visitor's Center -- and the public restrooms in the parking lot. The GGRNA has 250 trails available, so the Alta can be your starting point for any number of different adventures.
No trailside drinking water is available, so bring plenty for you and your pups. The trail has little shade and shelter from the weather. Given the moody nature of Bay Area weather, you may need sunscreen, windbreakers, rain gear, or all of the above.