At 193 acres, the Baltimore Canyon Preserve is part of a sprawling expanse of public lands linked by a network of dog-friendly trails. Baltimore Canyon is the northernmost of four connected open spaces, with Kings Mountain Preserve, Blithedale Summit Preserve, and Camino Alto Preserve all accessible by foot and paw. Dogs are allowed on-leash on all trails, and can even explore under voice control on fire roads.
The rich forest canopy here once contained the region's tallest redwoods, but those fell victim to urban expansion and have been replaced by a mix of bays, Douglas firs, madrones, and new-growth redwoods that will someday tower over this landscape again. A shady and scenic environment for a hike, Baltimore Canyon also features the seasonal 30-foot cascade of Dawn Falls, a great backdrop for some furrific dog pics.
The hike to Dawn Falls is a moderate 2.2-mile out-and-back hike from the trailhead at the end of Marone Ave, where a few roadside parking spots are available. Take the trail across a bridge over the creek before turning right onto Dawn Falls Trail. Follow the creek as the trail narrows and winds into the woods, through a junction with the Ladybug Trail, across the stream on another bridge, and into the heart of the canyon. A series of switchbacks climb the hill to the waterfall.
For a longer hike and more diverse scenery, make it a loop. As it reaches the northwest corner of the preserve, Dawn Falls Trail crosses the wide, leash-optional Southern Marin Line Fire Road and then the small, lovely Hoo-Koo E-Koo Trail (where higher elevation means fantastic views of the Bay). The Southern Marin Line circles back to Madrone via the steep, narrow Barbara Springs Trail. Or, begin and end your route from Sunrise Lane farther south and return via Hoo-Koo E-Koo to the Blithedale Fire Road to the Huckleberry Trail for a loop just under 5 miles.
Additional roadside parking is available at the ends of Wilson Way on the park's eastern edge and Crown Road on the northwest, and any number of different hikes are possible on this well-connected trail system. Grab a trail map from the Marin Co. website and plan the pawfect route for your pack.