5 Little-Known Facts About Mt. Tamalpais

As the highest peak in Marin Hills, Mt. Tamalpais has become symbolic for the surrounding Marin County.


Learn More About the Beloved Symbol of Marin County.

As the highest peak in Marin Hills, Mt. Tamalpais has become symbolic for the surrounding Marin County. The area's public lands include protected areas like the Mount Tamalpais State Park and National Park Service land like the Muir Woods. Because of its cultural and historical significance, many residents view the mountain with a sense of reverence. Here are a few fascinating, little-known facts about the beloved spot!

Pop Culture References

From songs to movies, you can find numerous references to Mt. Tamalpais in pop culture. The popular young adult fantasy series Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan uses Mount Tamalpais as the modern site for several mythological locations like Mount Othrys and the Garden of the Hesperides. Even the apes in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) made Mt. Tamalpais State Park their home. It is also referenced in California's state song, "I Love You, California."

It is Commonly Depicted in Landscape Paintings

Because of its natural beauty and tall peak, Mt. Tamalpais has become a popular subject for painters creating California landscapes. Among the many artists who have used the mountain as the subject of at least one painting are Norton Bush, Jack Wisby, Jules Tavernier, Nancy Wallace, Harry Cassie Best, and Theodore Wores. Do you think any of them have accused each other of stealing their idea?

The Trailside Killer

Not to give you nightmares, but not many people know that in 1979, and a couple of years after, Mt. Tamalpais was the primary hunting ground for serial killer David Carpenter, also known as the Trailside Killer. Not even Real Housewives were safe, as his first attempted murder was against Lois Rinna, mother of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Rinna. Carpenter was arrested, and soon after he was released, accused of being the Zodiac Killer. 
Needless to say, this guy was quite the monster. This dude had all the serial killer hallmarks, including a disturbing childhood that included bedwetting and animal cruelty. He was later charged and sentenced to death in 1984. More than 30 years later, Carpenter is still alive and waiting his final hours in San Quentin.

Home of Theatrical Performances

Mt. Tamalpais is home to the Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre, also known as the Mountain Theatre, a 4,000-seat open-air event venue. Since 1913, Mt. Tamalpais has hosted theatrical performances called Mountain Plays in its glorious natural setting. Offering a truly unique theatre experience, tourists and residents alike love to enjoy the festival-style outdoor experience showcasing Broadway musicals and award-winning plays during the summer months. I guess someone really liked the way the Ancient Greeks used to do things. 

The Birth of Mountain Biking

While mountain biking is now an internationally known sport and extremely popular globally, Marin County's Mt. Tamalpais is generally regarded as the sport's official birthplace. In the late 1960s, the sport got its start with a group of teenagers in the area who would ride vintage single-speed balloon tire bikes on the mountain and through Larkspur, California. They became local legends, and the sport slowly grew beyond their group of friends to become a worldwide phenomenon.

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