Phoenix Lake is a true Marin County Gem, and the trail system here is a furrific spot for a Fido-friendly hike! The best place to park is on Lagunista Rd, and although the parking is free, spaces tend to fill up quickly -- it’s best to get there before 11 am on the weekends. Phoenix Lake has a couple of grrreat routes that can be done in an afternoon, as well as some longer treks that are ideal for a full-day hike. The whole area is very pawpular with local pups and their people -- those seeking solitude should probably search elsewhere, but your four-pawed pal will likely make a few new friends!
The most well-known route in the area is the Phoenix Lake-Bill Williams-Gertrude Orr Trail, three pawesome paths that combine to create a 2.7-mile loop that’s easily walkable in under two hours. You and your buddy can expect fabulous views of the lake, and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife -- there’s one dock in particular where you’ll often spot grebes, ducks, herons, and turtles going about their business. The loop continues through wooded wonderland made up of California oak and pine, and a delightful bridge passes over a small creek. Fitter furry friends looking for a challenge might want to try their luck on the Eldridge Grade, hiking up to Mount Tamalpais, a 12-mile trek through chapparal that features inclines ranging from the steep to the truly punishing.
As you might expect, the trails around Phoenix Lake vary in terms of accessibility, though doggos and owners with serious mobility issues might want to give this one a miss -- even the Phoenix Lake loop has a couple of sets of steps, and the ground is slightly uneven. Otherwise, you’ll find a trail here for every ability, from athletic animals to true couch pup-tatoes! In terms of facilities, you’ll find bathrooms by the parking lot, and there are benches dotted around the lakeside routes -- perfect for enjoying the view, or just taking a load off if you feel like your pooch has been walking you. Remember to bring bags and water, and have fun at Phoenix Lake!