|Marin Conservation League | 175 N. Redwood Dr., Ste. 135 | San Rafael CA 94903 | Tel 415.485.6257 | Fax 415.485.6259
The narrow winding road leading to the East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais State Park can be daunting, but the views of Marin and the Bay Area make the trip worthwhile! From 1896 to 1930, the peak was a popular destination from Mill Valley on the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway. The road replaced the railroad, and a vast parking lot of asphalt (see photo) was installed later. A small snack stand and visitor information building, restrooms, picnic tables, and a ramp to meet accessibility requirements were added over the years. Mt. Tamalpais Interpretive Association recently raised funds to rebuild the car barn in commemoration of the peak’s colorful railway history.
Beyond the spectacular views the peak offers limited amenities for visitors, and those facilities that do exist lack design and cohesion. First-time visitors are greeted by a sea of asphalt (right) and parking fee kiosk, and after experiencing the spectacular views are left to wonder: “Where do we go now?” The State Parks Marin District is partnering with the National Park Service in their “River, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program” to prepare a new plan for the peak.
Local landscape architecture firms volunteered in an all-day charette (design process) to “improve the visitor experience” on East Peak in 2010. The opportunities: remove excess asphalt; create a defined and accessible visitor center (e.g., snack bar, restrooms, interpretive materials, picnic areas, and other amenities); provide for outdoor education; protect natural and historic resources on the site; and others. MCL and other interested organizations were invited to critique the four concepts. From these designs, NPS and District staffs have developed three alternative concepts.
On March 12, 2012, State Parks reported that the report is still being finalized and the next steps will be to hopefully get a Facilities Management Plan started, which is contingent on how many other Districts are competing for this service. Meanwhile, the park is moving forward with the ADA access from the parking lot to the visitor center/lower area. A couple of plans have been suggested and they are waiting for final approval as to which design is best suited for the area.