Hanging out at Hawk Hill

One of my favorite stretches of pavement in the bay area that nobody’s ever heard of is Conzelman Road. It’s the little ribbon of pavement that snakes up the Marin Headlands for an outstanding view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Randy flew into town unexpectedly which was a great surprise. He suggested maybe heading over to Marin County as we’ve not spent much time over there. Mount Tamalpias dominates the southern part of the county and we always enjoy the search for random telecommunications equipment across our travels.

Usually I’m only up here on Easter Sunday for the Mount Tamalpias Easter Sunday Motorcycle Ride. We’ve been having exceptionally warm sunny weather this February which I know was a reprieve for the long wet winter Randy has been seeing up in Canada.

We set our eyes on the East Peak within the park but were feeling anxious if we get parking up there given how many people and cars were all long the journey. Every parking lot seemed to be jammed with no great options as we got closer to the summit along Railroad Road. Surprisingly, however, the Summit parking lot was about half-full. Maybe we got there right as the park was transitioning between morning and afternoon visitors. Maybe the parking lots never full. Maybe the holiday weekend drew the regulars out of the park to some other exotic destination. Either way, we were thrilled and happy plenty of parking abounded.

The great thing about the view at Mount Tamalpias is that you really feel the height. Mount Diablo and Mount Hamilton are significantly higher than Mount Tamalpias but the views feel much more museum-like. At Mount Tamalpias a pretty significant drop lurks just past the bumpy rock you have to climb over to navigate the summit. It just feels more raw to be up there versus the other peaks in the trio rounding the bay.

It always gives me pause looking east from the summit of Mount Tam. It’s been an adjustment moving to the East Bay from the South Bay in moments like these remind me of that shift in my life. The East Bay is different in many respects than the South Bay. Many of those respects have caught me by surprise.

Central South BayOuter East Bay
SocialWe all were in techI’m the guy who does tech
WeatherNo one really had A/CEveryone has A/C
Fun, quick rideHighway 9Mount Diablo
CommuteFly down 280Bridge & Tunnel is real
MountainsLong 680 slog northI’m the first out of the bay!
OceansJust over the hillFeels a long way away

It was getting later in the day but I really felt we would be remiss if we didn’t explore Hawk Hill and Conzelman road. Traffic was brutal as the traffic planners did some traffic calming to add parking along the view. That change now requires everyone to go through the one-way tunnel with five-minute weights between traffic lights. I kept promising Randy that the view was worth it.

We got lucky finding parking up at the top of Hawk Hill for a truly outstanding view of the Golden Gate. Looking at the city from this viewpoint and Mount Tam gave me a new appreciation for the sheer size of the Salesforce Tower. I had become accustomed to seeing that building from the East clustered amongst other buildings in that view. From the north, however, the Salesforce Tower really stood out. The city evolves each and every day.

What really intrigues me about Hawk Hill is the drive over to the Pacific Ocean side. Cresting that hill is a view to die for. The single lane road all but disappears beneath you at the crest and then quickly appears snaking down the mountain. With the sundrenched landscape the view didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately we couldn’t do the whole drive as time was getting away from us but it will have to be another venture for another time.

Driving over the Golden gate even after 20 years just never gets old. It’s unapologetic bright orange spanning across where no bridge could be built always leaves an impression upon me. It’s a true engineering feat and a treasure of our area!

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