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Mill Valley, California

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Mill Valley is a city in Marin County, California, United States located about 4 miles (6.4 km) north of San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge.

Mill Valley is located on the western and northern shores of Richardson Bay. Beyond the flat coastal area and marshlands, it occupies narrow wooded canyons, mostly of second-growth redwoods, on the southern slopes of Mount Tamalpais. The Mill Valley 94941 area also includes the following adjacent unincorporated communities: Almonte, Alto, Homestead Valley, Muir Woods Park, Strawberry and Tamalpais Valley.

City recreational parks

Mill Valley maintains many recreational parks which often contain playgrounds and other designated areas specifically designed for playing various sports. Dogs are required to be on leashes in all but one of these parks, which is specifically designated a dog park to allow the option of off-leash exercise.

Mill Valley has a prodigious "steps, lanes, and paths program" that provides improved pedestrian access between many of the winding and twisting residential roads that cover the hillsides. Blue stencils on the roadway mark certain paths as potential emergency escape routes from the fire prone hills. A picture book celebrates the paths, "Steps, Lanes and Paths of Mill Valley". In 2009 resident Matt Connelly threatened litigation alleging that some of the proposed paths represent a seizure of private property (even though the steps, lanes and paths were designated before houses were built).

For those who prefer to enjoy nature from the comfort of a chair, the city's public library is nestled in a serene and scenic location at the edge of Old Mill Park where visitors may relax indoors near the wood-burning fireplace and view the redwood forest through the library's multi-storied windows, or from the outside deck which overlooks the park and Cascade Creek.

Nature trails

Tenderfoot Trail (1.5 miles) -- Lower trail head is on Cascade Drive between Cascade Falls park and the lower trail head of the Zigzag trail. The upper trail head is at Edgewood Ave., near Mountain Home Inn. This upper trail head provides access to the Edgewood trail, and also provides gateway access to the upper region of Muir Woods, Tamalpais State Park near the Alice Eastwood Campsite access road, and the main southern access point Mt. Tamalpais Watershed (near the Throckmorton Ridge Fire Station).
Zigzag Trail (1/2 mile, steep climb) -- This is a very steep trail which has an upper trail head near the Throckmorton Ridge Fire Station and the Mountain Home Inn with gateway access to the upper region of Muir Woods, Tamalpais State Park near the Alice Eastwood Campsite access road, and the main southern access point Mt. Tamalpais Watershed (near the Throckmorton Ridge Fire Station). The lower trail head is near the western end of Cascade Drive, west of Cascade Falls Park and the lower Tenderfoot Trail head.
Cypress Trail (1 mile) -- runs between the end of Cypress Ave. and the middle of the Tenderfoot Trail. Cypress Avenue leads to Edgewood Blvd. Going down Edgewood leads to the top of Dipsea trail stairs and Cowboy Rock Trail head, and uphill on Edgewood lead to the Edgewood Trail.
Edgewood Trail (1/2 mile)(aka Pipeline trail) -- runs between the two parts of Edgewood Ave. and provides access to the upper Tenderfoot trail head or, if one follows Edgewood Ave. out to the Mountain Home Inn, leads to a gateway access to the upper region of Muir Woods, Tamalpais State Park near the Alice Eastwood Campsite access road, and the main southern access point Mt. Tamalpais Watershed (near the Throckmorton Ridge Fire Station)
Cowboy Rock Trail (1/4 mile) -- part of the Homestead Valley Land Trust, the upper trail head is at Edgewood and Sequoia Valley Road intersection, across the street from where the Dipsea trail stairs from downtown end. This path leads to the Homestead Trail and to the path/stairs down to Stolte Grove and the western tip of Homestead Valley.
Pixie Trail (1/2 mile) -- part of the Homestead Valley Land Trust, this trail has several trail heads. On the upper end the trail head is at Marion Ave, (upper portion) Ridgewood Ave., and Edgewood Ave. intersect. The Pixie Trail also has a mid-access point, where the Pixie Trail becomes paved and developed. The street runs down hill to Stolte Grove. The trail continues on and connects to any of three other trail heads. The first head is at the five way intersection of Molino Ave, Edgewood Ave, Cape Ct, and Mirabel Ave. The second head leads to the end of Seymour lane which is a short road off of Edgewood Ave. Crossing Edgewood, the path continues down a set of stairs to Ethel Ave and the Una Way staircase down to Miller Ave. The third and final head ends at Janes Street, down the way from Molino Avenue Park.
Homestead Trail (1 mile) -- part of the Homestead Valley Land trust, this longer winding trail traverses the western slope of Homestead Valley itself. It is not currently well delineated or maintained in parts. It has several other trail heads that leads up into Tamalpais State Park near the "four-corners" intersection, as well as down into the valley via (lower portion) Ridgeview Ave. and Ferndale Ave.
Dipsea Trail (7.1 miles) The most famous hike in Marin County is the Dipsea Trail, a challenging route beginning with three long, steep stairways leading up from Old Mill Park and ending at Stinson Beach 7.1 miles (11.4 km) later. The annual Dipsea Race is in June, although the trail can be run or hiked any time. The West Marin Stagecoach is a bus that runs from Stinson Beach back to Mill Valley, stopping approximately one mile from downtown.[1] The Dipsea Trail is not well marked, so first timers should consider carrying a guidebook.
Muir Woods to Bootjack Trail (6.3 miles) This trail is a loop that will take around 3.5 hours and popular among tourists due to the first hour among the redwood trees. Bootjack is accessible from here, transitioning to meadows with bridges and streams. Bootjack itself is 2.2 miles (3.5 km) long, moderate uphill and great for the average hiker.

Annual events

Mill Valley is the home of several annual events, many of which attract national and international followings:

Dipsea Race
The Mountain Play
Mill Valley Film Festival
Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival
Mill Valley Shakespeare in Old Mill Park Amphitheater

Arts and crafts in Mill Valley

Mill Valley is known for being a village with a strong artistic heritage. A visitor to downtown Mill Valley will discover many art galleries, open-air coffee shops, and other hallmarks of a thriving artistic community. In addition, the town has sponsored the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival for over fifty years and also the Mill Valley Film Festival, which is part of the California Film Institute, for over thirty years. In addition, Mill Valley's Chamber of Commerce has sponsored the annual Gourmet Food and Wine Tasting in Lytton Square for many years.

Theater arts also have a huge following in Mill Valley. In addition to supporting the local 142 Throckmorton Theatre, which hosts theater of all levels, Mill Valley is also home for the Marin Theatre Company, as well as the Mountain Play Association which hosts annual musical productions in the Sidney B. Cushing Amphitheater located in Mill Valley's neighboring Mount Tamalpais State Park. For several years the Curtain Theatre Group has also been performing annual free Shakespeare plays among the redwoods on the Old Mill Park Amphitheatre behind the Mill Valley Library.

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