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Pirate's Cove: The Quintessential Nor Cal Pocket Beach

If you're looking for the quintessential Northern California pocket beach, head to Marin's Pirate's Cove. Only accessible by a moderate 1.5 mile hike, this secluded haven of soft white sand is bookended by tall, rugged cliffs. And the coast-hugging trail you must take to get there is almost as spectacular as the cove itself. Starting from Muir Beach, you ascend a fire road for about three-quarters of a mile until you reach the crest of the trail, and then—wow! Your high vantage point (pictured) offers stunning views of the craggy coast all the way to Pacifica—and you'll spot the stretch of sand that's your destination. Pirate's Cove's privacy made it a great staging area for bootleggers in the 1920s. These days there's no hooch (except what you pack in your picnic basket), but there's plenty of booty in the form of salty air and solitude. Kick off your boots, dip your toes in the waves, and soak in the sun and seclusion. Argh, matey, there be treasure here!

For directions, a map, and more information on hiking to Pirate's Cove, click the link. Subscribe to Weekend Sherpa's free weekly email about outdoor adventures in Northern California.