Family Service and Fun Exploring Marin County, California

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13220A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Explore the varied landscapes of Marin County: mountains, grasslands, and seashore
  • Work together on conservation service projects under the guidance of park rangers
  • See amazing wildlife—seals, sea birds and salamanders—all within sight of a beautiful city skyline


  • Lodging at the California Alpine Club near Muir Woods National Monument
  • All meals, except one dinner out
  • Ferry to Angel Island, park admissions, and evening programs


DatesJul 28–Aug 3, 2013
Price$845 (Adult)
$745 (Child)
Min. Age6
StaffWilliam Baurecht

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Share your community spirit and your love of the outdoors with your family this summer, in beautiful Marin County. Just a short drive from the traffic and congestion of San Francisco lies a land of historic dairy farms, a 2,500-foot mountain, dozens of trails, a lagoon where harbor seals lounge on sandbars and egrets and herons feed, and an island rich with California history and spectacular 360-degree views. Our trip includes two California state parks and focuses on some highlights of the Golden Gate National Recreation area, which is home to 53 species of mammals, 250 birds, 20 reptiles, and 11 amphibians.

Each day of our trip will be different, as we explore the possibilities offered in this varied landscape. Days of recreation—hiking local trails, visiting a lighthouse and swimming an ocean beach—will alternate with two days of service featuring work projects within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. 

The Project

Two days of our trip will include service projects that we are planning with the volunteer coordinator for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Specific details of our work assignments will be finalized by early summer. At this point, we are planning our first day of service work at Muir Beach, where we will focus on habitat restoration along Redwood Creek, helping to protect the endangered Coho salmon and Steelhead trout. We anticipate our second service project day will be at Muir Woods, which could include trail maintenance, tending the forest floor, or painting. Our volunteer effort is appreciated and essential to preserving natural conditions and public access to our magnificent national parks. 


Each day will be filled with activity. Full details will be given in pre-trip correspondence. The trip will begin on day one with an informal gathering at 3 p.m. at the California Alpine Club. If you arrive earlier that day, you can unpack, take a leisurely hike, or explore the area.

A typical day will begin with eating breakfast and making a sack lunch. We will then travel to the trailhead, work site, or ferry dock. At the end of each day's outing, we will return to the lodge, have time to relax before dinner, and spend time together in after-dinner activities.

All hikes and programs are subject to change, depending on a variety of factors, including trail conditions, permits, weather, and availability of speakers.

Day 1: Assemble at California Alpine Club Lodge around 3 p.m.  Together, we'll have a warm welcome, getting-to-know-you activities, and introduction to the area, which will continue after dinner.

Day 2: We will hike through redwoods and see the varied landscape from vistas and become acquainted with its splendor.

Day 3: Service project: We will be assigned service at Muir Beach, focusing on habitat restoration along Redwood Creek to protect the endangered Coho salmon and Steelhead trout.

Day 4: We will hike down Steep Ravine Trail to swim at Stinson Beach. 

Day 5: Service project: We will be assigned service in Muir Woods, which could include trail maintenance, tending the forest floor, or painting.

Day 6: We will ride a ten-minute ferry from Tiburon to Angel Island, once the “Ellis Island of the West,” now a state park. We will tour the immigration museum and hike to top of the island or around it for a panoramic view of the bay area. We’ll stop for pizza on the way home.

Day 7: After cleaning up and making lunch for the road, we'll say our goodbyes after breakfast.



Getting There

Travel to and from the California Alpine Club (CAC) is the responsibility of each participant. The CAC Lodge is about an hour away from San Francisco International Airport and about 40 minutes from downtown. We will provide a website with directions and map.

Ridesharing or taking public transportation from San Francisco airport (SFO) is encouraged. Due to insurance regulations, all transportation to the lodge, trailheads, and work sites is the responsibility of each trip member. Leaders are unable to arrange carpools for participants. Those arriving by air or being dropped off at the lodge should plan to rent a car or make their own arrangements to carpool with other trip participants. If you wish to carpool, the leader will provide a participant roster before the trip. Additional information regarding travel options will be provided. Do not make any transportation reservations until the leader approves your participation in the trip.

Accommodations and Food

We will be based at the rustic and charming California Alpine Club Lodge in Mill Valley, California, which is tucked into the redwoods of Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Perched on a scenic ridge, we'll enjoy privacy as well as a central location for traveling to our daily activities. The lodge boasts a large stone fireplace in a comfortable living room. Sleeping arrangements are in two buildings. Each dorm-style bedroom has 4-6 beds; rooms will be assigned once family configurations are established, and some small families may be sharing larger rooms. Blankets and pillows will be provided, but you will need to bring your own pillowcase, towels, and either sheets or a lightweight sleeping bag. Bathrooms are shared. Shower and toilet rooms are separate and have privacy doors. Participants are not permitted to remain at the lodge during the day unless a leader is on the premises. No smoking is allowed on the premises.

All meals, except one, will be provided by trip leaders, starting with dinner on the first day and ending with breakfast and a sack lunch on the final day. On our way back from Angel Island, we will enjoy an informal dinner out. The cost of this meal is not included in the trip price.

Our cook has planned healthy, hearty meals, and a vegetarian option is always available. Participants with other dietary restrictions can usually be accommodated, provided that the trip leader is informed in advance. Coffee, tea, and water are served with breakfast and dinner.

Participants are invited to bring their additional beverages of choice. Each morning before breakfast we will prepare our own lunches; bring a reusable plastic container to carry your sandwich. In the cooperative spirit of Sierra Club national outings, all participants will take turns assisting with meal preparation and clean up. 

Trip Difficulty

Our hikes will be from two to four miles round-trip, up and down uneven ground, some with elevation changes, with possible options for longer hikes. It's important that participants get in and stay in good physical condition. Start some kind of aerobic conditioning program now--you'll be happy you did.

Equipment and Clothing

Weather in Marin County in late July-early August is usually dry, with days reaching 80 degrees, and nights in the 50s.  However, cool ocean winds and fog may also occur often in this area, so be prepared for changeable weather by dressing in layers.

Your daypack must be large enough to hold lunch, at least two liters of water, and a warm, waterproof jacket. Sturdy, broken-in hiking shoes are important. A detailed clothing and equipment list will be sent when you are approved for the trip. Be sure to bring your camera and your binoculars for observing wildlife.



  • Martin, Don and Kay, Hiking Marin.
  • Ashley, Beth, Marin.


  • Olmsted, Gerald, Trails of Mt. Tamalpais and The Marin Headlands.
  • Harrison, Tom, Trail map of Pt. Reyes National Seashore.
  • Harrison, Tom, Mt. Tamalpais Trail Map.



Your leaders are volunteers with a long-term dedication to the Sierra Club mission--"to explore, enjoy and protect the wild places of the earth." Our hope is that the children on this outing will become strong believers in the need to protect our wild areas, and perhaps become members of the Sierra Club and activists of the future.

We believe that the Sierra Club's outings program provides an excellent opportunity for members to enjoy the fruits of past conservation victories and to learn about current concerns. On this trip, we will benefit from the heroic efforts of many individuals and environmental organizations who protected more than 60 percent of Marin County land through various forms of public ownership, preserving for everyone its beaches, wetlands, and old-growth forests.

During the trip, participants will report on environmental issues in their home areas, so that we can all be informed and share a commitment to continue environmental awareness and activism.

We'll be practicing Leave No Trace wilderness principles throughout the trip in order to minimize our impact on the environment. At the lodge we will model recycling, conservation, and minimal use of disposable products. We ask that you bring reusable sandwich containers and bags for carrying your lunch, and a few bandanas or cloth napkins.

Since any traveling leaves a carbon footprint, check out the information the Sierra Club offers about carbon offsets:


Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under permits from Mount Tamalpais and Angel Island State Parks.



William Baurecht has been a member of the Sierra Club for many years and has led and participated in national lodge, service, base camp, and family outings. He has camped and hiked for most of his adult life. A certified national outings leader, Bill looks forward to sharing his love of mountain hiking, knowledge of Western history and cultures, and commitment to conservation and preservation of national and state parks and monuments.

Assistant Leader:

Helen Bannan-Baurecht has accompanied her husband Bill on Sierra Club national outings in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and California, and they are excited about leading this new trip together. She has loved the outdoors since her Girl Scout days, which included a stint as a camp counselor. Beginning with a year on a Montana Indian reservation, Helen taught for more than 30 years, including many college courses on western history, particularly focusing on the lives of American Indians and women.


Candy Barnhill, an outdoor enthusiast and Master Gardener, enjoys volunteering as a Sierra Club Outings chef and trip leader. Smitten with traveling nationally and internationally, she enjoys being outdoors with her shelties, living healthfully, making new acquaintances and sun-soaking on any beach or trail. Candy looks forward to learning your strategies for living greener lives and sharing adventures on National Outings trips.

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