Hike Black Sands Beach via Julian Trail

The Black Sands Beach via Julian Trail a moderate 4 mile trail through the lush Marin Headlands just north of San Francisco. Along this trail you’ll see gorgeous flowers including the California State Poppy, and take in views of the expansive Pacific coastline. In this post, I’ll give you all the info you need to hike to Black Sands Beach.

Hiking Info

Trailhead location: Coastal Trail Parking Lot
Nature Trail: 4 Mile Out & Back Trail
Rated: Moderate
Elevation change: 856 feet
There is a parking lot here with free parking (don’t leave anything showing in you car, there have been a lot of break ins)
Bathrooms at trailhead
No dogs allowed

Note: The tide sometimes creeps up here to cover the beach, you can check a tide chart ahead of time to make sure you can step foot onto the sand.

When To Go

The weather is in the 50s most months of the year, where you need a light jacket layer and/or a windbreaker. The weather can feel much warmer or cooler depending on the wind since you’re right off the coastline. It’s always good to have layers for any San Francisco adjacent hike.

The Hike

Star at the Coastal Trail Parking lot and take the Julian Trail, it’s well marked with a sign. We did this trail in March, when wildflowers were in bloom all over the trail in vibrant colors.

After about a mile and a half you’ll reach the turn off for Black Sands Beach on the left, you’ll see this well marked sign below. Follow this trail through lush foliage towards the coastline.

There is a bit of a climb up a hill, then as you start to descend you’ll get amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.

You might even see some furry friends along the way, like this little caterpillar below.

It’s hard to make out here but you can see the Point Bonita Lighthouse to the right as you’re hiking downward.

There are several staircases right at the end to get down to the beach. Watch you step, they can get really slippery from the sand and the dew.

The views are spectacular as you walk down all these staircases, you can see the Black Sands Beach, and across the Pacific you can see the west side of San Francisco and Twin Peaks. There are many beautiful rock formations that jut out from the ocean.

Bring snacks or a picnic when you arrive to enjoy and take in the view. The nice thing is this beach doesn’t get very crowded so it’s very quiet and serene.

Like all sand, this black, or more like brownish color is finely divided rock and mineral particles and ground up from being tumbled around in the ocean.

This is a great hike very close to San Francisco and definitely worth the trip. Know of any other great hikes in the area? Please leave in the comments below.

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