Corte Madera Mountain November 2014 Trip Report
© November 2014 Adam Helman

Note 1: All pictures are courtesy of Max Muir.
Note 2: Mouse-click any image for enlargement.
Note 3: All coordinates are in the WGS84 datum.


Two decades ago Maxwell Muir and I were scientific colleagues at Biosym Technologies, with Doctorates in Chemistry and writing software to computationally model molecules for new drug discovery. We went our own ways...

Last August, out of the blue, I receive his E-mail with a request for hiking together. It is only now, in mid November, before we realize this goal on a local peak - Corte Madera Mountain. I did it long ago, likely with Edward Earl who now lives in Washington state. I will repeat visiting this summit for seeing Max and having a good time.


We meet at the Park and Ride 8 a.m. Saturday, the one at Exit-22 of Interstate 8. It's a good choice because it obviates anyone visiting the other's home (to drive in one vehicle); while simultaneously getting both of us roughly halfway to the mountain.

Max drives while I navigate - a good choice since I slept quite poorly and yet have amassed all relevant information for the approach drive and hike.

A brief trip report cites driving a final 0.4 mile on Kernan Road - yet a locked gate blocks vehicular entrance. We will hike an additional 0.8 mile for a 7.6 mile total and perhaps 1,000 feet of total gained elevation. Somehow I recognize this parking spot from long long ago (32.73559° N, 116.55734° W); and am surprised that I have any recall of that misty event. Likely, Edward drove us in his car.

Corte Madera Adam
Corte Madera from the southeast. Adam checks the map.


Max with Pine Mountain
as background.

We begin at 9:02 a.m., walking along Kernan Road to the actual trail at (32.74013° N, 116.56348° W). Within the hour we reach a saddle with road junction at (32.74752° N, 116.57539° W), rest, water, and head a quarter mile north on the obvious road to the Corte Madera Trail proper at (32.75059° N, 116.57411° W). Max is taking plenty of digital photographs, sadly with a broken viewfinder which precludes reviewing what is being seen.

Twin trees on
summit plateau.

The summit area is broad and relatively flat, with several candidate highest points - each featuring large boulders. I search in vain for some path leading to a northwest area with 4,657 foot spot elevation at (32.75776° N, 116.59114° W), and which seems to be the highest point at

Instead, the obvious path continues southwest, terminating in a set of boulders represented on the topo chart as a southwest area with coordinates (32.75624° N, 116.59055° W). Here we drop packs and bushwhack to a boulder's top with good views - while hopefully satisfying Max that he climbed Corte Madera Mountain.

The central area at (32.75696° N, 116.59016° W) features an unclimbable boulder shaped like an upended "egg", some 30 feet tall and completely vertical on all sides. There are no sizable handholds, and the only way it might be surmounted is by throwing a rope over its top, securing it on the opposite side, and jumaring!

Pine Mountain
Nearby Pine Mountain
from the summit plateau.

As it might be the highest ground, technically speaking it could be that noone climbs to Corte Madera Mountain's true summit.

There are also two 4,640 foot contours here and here, the latter with a 4,646 foot spot elevation and thus not in contention owing to the 4,657 foot area.

southwest area
the southwest area

Rather than visiting these points, Max and I have our summit (and lunch) break atop yet another boulder just before leaving the general high ground. We share an onion bagel and some uncharacteristically piquant Irish cheese. There are several sweets, including a Snickers bar and my bag filled with caramels, mixed nuts (no peanuts!) and semisweet dark chocolate.

We descend at 11:33 a.m. and are back at the car in a jiffy - 12:50 p.m.

After returning to the Park and Ride my stuff is transferred and we part amicably, hoping to meet soon enough for another good time.