This Northern California Mountain Has the Most Fascinating Geological Story
Mount Tamalpais is often considered the symbol of Marin County. Locals affectionately refer to it as Mount Tam, and hikers come from all over the state to get a glimpse from the top of the peak. Located north of San Francisco, Mount Tam is situated perfectly to give hikers breathtaking views from above the clouds, overlooking San Francisco, the Pacific Ocean, and the scenic slopes. In addition to the beautiful scenery Mount Tam offers, the mountain also has a fascinating geologic background. Read on to learn more about what makes Mount Tam as frightening as it is beautiful.
Mount Tamalpais is the highest peak in the Marin Hills.
Marin Hills is a portion of the Northern California Coast Ranges, which run along the Pacific Ocean.
The West Peak is 2,576 feet up, while the East Peak is 2,572 feet up.
Because of its proximity to the ocean and San Francisco, Mount Tam offers gorgeous views of the city, water, and surrounding slopes.
For its beauty and ecological significance, much of the mountain is contained in protected public lands.
Because of its location, Mount Tam has an interesting geological story.
The mountain is the result of uplift and folding of the North American plate sliding along the Pacific Plate, near the San Andreas fault zone.
Geoscientists have suggested that a blind thrust fault lies beneath the mountain.
If one does exist under Mount Tam and it ruptures, the result could be a devastating earthquake for the North Bay, San Francisco, and the surrounding region.
Until that day comes, it's difficult to predict if and when such a quake would occur.
For now, all locals can do is admire the mountain for what it's worth: a gorgeous natural phenomenon that makes for great exercise and beautiful scenery.
The mountain is home to all kinds of flora.
The diversity of microclimates on the mountain makes it possible for all kinds of trees to thrive, including Coast Live Oak, California bay, madrone, and canyon live oak.
Depending on the time of year you go, you might experience very different weather.
The ocean-facing valleys of Mount Tam will be cooler and foggier, while the manzanita slopes are hot and dry. At the summit, you'll enjoy cool weather and a comfortable breeze.
Blind fault thrust or not, Mount Tamalpais will always be one of the great treasures of Marin County.
Have you been to Mount Tam? Which trail to the top was your favorite?
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