Marin County Hang Gliding Association (MCHGA)

Mt Tamalpais Site Description / Location
revised 01/14/20

Mt. Tamalpais, located north of San Francisco between Mill Valley & Stinson Beach, is one of the most scenic mountain sites in California. (See map and driving instructions, below.) It has unobstructed panoramic views of the Pacific ocean, San Francisco, and the Bay and Delta waters. There are many popular hiking trails all around the mountain and Stinson Beach is below. The site is rated INTERMEDIATE for both hang gliding and paragliding. All pilots are responsible for following and enforcing their respective site rules. The rules for hang glider pilots are slightly different from the rules for paraglider pilots.

The Marin County Hang Gliding Association (MCHGA) maintains hang gliding and paragliding operations on the west side of Mt. Tamalpais, along Bolinas Ridge. There are three launch sites facing generally south to west, all at about 2000 ft. MSL. (See the table below for details on acceptable wind velocities and directions for each launch.) The landing zone is on the beach, near the north end of Stinson Beach. Check the Tide Table for high tides, especially during the winter & spring.

Launch site

Wind Velocity (mph)

Launch site

Wind Direction (degrees)

craft

min

ideal

max

gust

min

max

A

hg

0

20

25

5

A

ideal

170

180

pg

0

15

20

5

ok

155

190

B

both

0

10

15

5

B

ideal

260

270

 

 

 

 

 

ok

225

300

C

both

0

10

15

5

C

ideal

260

270

 

 

 

 

 

ok

240

310

The best season for Mt. Tam is during Winter & Spring, as the storms bring instability for good soaring conditions. In light winds, Mt. Tam is a very forgiving flying site. However, multiple ridges criss-cross the flying area between the launch and landing sites. This usually results in turbulent conditions whenever the wind velocity is over 15 mph. This can be especially challenging for paraglider pilots.

In post-frontal conditions, the wind frequently turns to NW at Tam. Pilots should be aware that there is a persistent rotor that sets up at "B" Launch in NW winds. Please click here for more information about this rotor condition.

Landing Field Hazard/Obstacle: Normally, there is a 10 ft. high metal sign placed about 30 ft. from the alleyway in the middle of the beach. This is just beyond the (otherwise) most desireable spot to land. Be aware! This sign marks the boundary with the Seadrift private beach. Please land to the south of it.

A Hang III or P III (intermediate) rating is required to obtain a sticker to fly the site. All pilots are required to get a site intro before their first flight at Tam. Additionally, P III pilots are required to have an authorized sponsor for their first flight, prior to getting a sticker. All pilots are required to pay a modest sticker fee, annually. This fee goes to pay for site insurance, State Park permits, the web site and general upkeep of stuff such as the wind-talker, sign-in boxes, first aid box, etc. Check the "News and Newsletters" for the time and location of the next meeting. Refer to the "New / Visiting Pilots" page to obtain stickers.

Mt.Tamalpais Photos

A Launch looking S to SF B Launch at Mt. Tam
C Launch at Mt. Tam LZ at Stinson Beach
Tam looking to SF Rainbow at Stinson

Driving Instructions

From Hwy 101 in Mill Valley, take the "Stinson Beach / Hwy 1" exit. Follow Shoreline Hwy and Hwy 1 about 1/2 mile to Tam Junction, where they will turn left at the traffic signal. Continue west on Hwy 1 for 2.7 miles. Then, look for the sign which directs you to turn right onto Panoramic Hwy for Mt Tam and Muir Woods. About 0.8 miles up Panoramic, you will come to a wide intersection shaped like a crooked pitchfork. Select the middle fork to continue across on Panoramic. Follow Panoramic for another 4.4 miles to its highest point. On your left, you will see the Pantoll Ranger Station, and on the right will be Pantoll Rd. Ahead of you, the highway will begin dropping down to Stinson Beach and the LZ. Pilots must sign in at the ranger station before flying.

To reach launch, take Pantoll Rd 1.4 miles to its end, at Rock Spring. Turn left onto W. Ridgecrest Blvd. From this point, "A" launch (not visible from the road) will be 0.4 miles up the road. "B" launch, which is plainly visible, right next to the road, is just 0.3 miles further. And "C" launch is 0.9 miles beyond that.

If you have a GPS, you can enter in the following coordinates:

In degrees, minutes, seconds: N    37 54' 40.33"
W 122 37' 27.94"
 
In decimal degrees: N    37.911203
W 122.624428

Here is a MAP of the area.


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