Nobody in Marin calls Bald Hill by its proper name: "Mt. Baldy" is such a local landmark and rises so sharply from the surrounding terrain that it earns honorary mountain status. At 1,141 feet, it's a pretty strenuous climb that will whip your on-leash buddies into tip-top shape.
A scenic and pawpular approach to Bald Hill starts at Phoenix Lake near Ross, where you can park on the utility-managed public land. The Worn Springs Fire Road leads northeast out of the basin through hardwood forest before breaking through into grassy a hillside where hikers often see soaring hawks in search of their supper. As you continue to ascend, you'll enjoy views of Mt. Tamalpais and the San Francisco Bay.
The summit of Mt. Baldy is privately owned, though some unofficial trails have been carved out by visitors determined to enjoy the furrific 360-degree views. If you continue past the summit on Worn Springs, you'll pass a Y juncture with the Yolanda Trail before reaching the Bald Hill Open Space Preserve. These 47 acres are yours to explore. The Bald Hill Preserve can also be accessed from street parking at the end of Redwood Road via a short trail, although that ascent is particularly steep.
The round-trip from Phoenix Lake to the Bald Hill Preserve is about 5 miles, but if your pups really need to burn off some energy, there are plenty of options to extend your journey. For a change of scenery on your return trip (or a more gradual ascent if the steep grade of Worn Springs looks more appealing from above), make it a loop via the narrower Yolanda Trail, which connects Phoenix Lake to the Worn Springs Fire Road just below the Bald Hill Preserve. The peaceful single-track trail mixes steep sections with more restful ones, adding about 3 miles to your trip.
Yolanda Trail also intersects with several other trails at the Six Points juncture. You can explore further on the Bald Hill Trail, or Hidden Meadow Trail. If you take Bald Hill Trail west, veering left at the fork to reach the Five Points juncture with Shaver Grade, you'll discover a secret treasure: trail-side restrooms! Follow Shaver Grade, Yolanda Trail, or Worn Springs Fire Road back south to Phoenix Lake and your car. Your tired pups will thank you.