Awesome Marin Run Route: The One Hour Run

Phoenix Lake is MY running spot. From Protrails.
Phoenix Lake is MY running spot. From Protrails.


Yesterday, since I’m home from LA for five days, I did my favorite one hour run. A warning: it’s only like 6-7 miles (depending on your route), but has about 1,000 feet of elevation. So it’s not the easiest one hour run ever. But, it is the best.

I started out tired and hurting — because I decided to get back into things again by strength training and box jumping the other day, which totally makes sense — and it’s so easy once you’re not working out every day to just keep not working out. And, anyway I’m slow and out of shape and this guy who did not look like he should be faster than me just kept speeding up to stay right ahead of me on the trail and it’s probably because I suck (or because I’m judgmental). I was not feeling the run.

But, it’s hard to not feel it once you’re up on the single track on the ridge all by yourself. So. That’s probably why it’s one of my ‘re-motivate yourself’ runs. Try it:

  • I always start at Phoenix Lake. Phoenix is my bang. (Which is something I have weirdly started saying, even though the phrase is actually “my bag.” But I’m sticking with my version.)
  • If you park at Ross Commons and run in on the road/path, then it’s a bit over a mile longer and just under an hour. If you park at the Lagunitas Country Club and run the same speed as me, then it’s more like a 50′ run.
  • From the trailhead, go up the fire road and stay to the right/straight around the edge of the lake until you get to the base of a hill. Go straight up Shaver Road at that intersection, which is actually a large trail. It’s about a 1.5 mile climb, but it’s not too steep or rough.
  • At the top, at Five Corners, where there’s a number of trail options and a bunch of signs that warn you to watch for mountain lions, take the insanely steep trail to your immediate right.
  • The steepness only lasts about 100m, then you’re on a single-track ridge trail that winds in and out on the side of the hill.
  • Eventually it dumps you at another trail intersection, Six Points (or maybe this one is Five Corners and the other one is Six Points, I can never remember). Don’t take the trail to the immediate right, because it’ll drop you back down into the valley. Take the trail to the right that says “Yolanda Trail – to Phoenix Lake.” Like this:


  • (If you are an avid reader of Sunny Running, you may notice that this is the same start of the route I usually take to get up Mt. Baldy, but in that case you would go left towards Worn Springs here.)
  • The single track continues up and down along the ridge. This is the best part of the run, because it looks like this:
Not my photo. Someone on Yelp's photo. But pretty accurate.
Not my photo. Someone on Yelp’s photo. But pretty accurate.
  • The trail rolls and some of the short little uphill sections can feel like a bitch, but on the whole you’re headed slightly more downhill than up. As you go, it gets noticeably more down because you’re dropping back down to the lake. Duh.
  • You will want to look at the awesome views of Mt. Tam and the hills and the drop into the valley. But, it is a rocky single-track trail, so you may also want to look at where you’re setting your feet. Don’t step on the newts! (Or rattlesnakes, obviously.)
  • You’ll hit one more kind of Y-intersection. Stay to the right to get back down to Phoenix Lake. That last section is very downhill and can be narrow and overgrown, depending on the weather and the district’s budget for maintenance. Don’t think too hard about what might be in the bushes and brush yourself off for ticks at the bottom.
  • At the bottom, it’ll dump you out back on the fire road around Phoenix that you started on. Turn left to head back to the trailhead and your car, or loop around the lake for an extra 2-2.5 miles. I sometimes like to loop the lake first just to get some running in before heading uphill. Plus the singletrack on the backside of the lake is fun.
  • Last step: Feel better about yourself and running.

What’s your favorite go-to run? (Can you tell me one in the LA area?)


6 thoughts on “Awesome Marin Run Route: The One Hour Run

  1. My attempt at running in LA failed miserably, obviously. But tell me of the benefits of regular box jumping. Is this a thing I should be doing?

    1. Well I’ve done box jumps for a while, because there’s definitely benefits to plyometrics and it seems like the science backs the whole explosive power helps you run faster thing. But then I was reading that “Hack Your Run” thing: and it really talked up jumps and plyos from this study:

      So, that was the primary thing I took away: do box jumps.

  2. I’ve been living in LA for three years now, and honestly, I still haven’t found amazing running. However, I trained for the LA marathon this year on the beach path in Santa Monica to marina del Rey, with just a few side street detours. San Vicente is also okay. At least the grass gives your feet a break 🙂

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