Mount Tamalpais, viewed from le balcon Chez la Vache, is symbolic of Marin County. Marin County is across the Golden Gate Bridge north of San Francisco. Much of "Mount Tam," as it is often called by locals, is protected within public lands such as Mount Tamalpais State Park and the Mount Tamalpais Watershed. Mount Tamalpais is the highest peak in the Marin Hills, which are part of the Northern California Coast Ranges. The elevation at its highest point is 2,571 feet (784 metres).
The name Tamalpais was first recorded in 1845. The meaning of the name is not well-established and there are several versions of the etymology of the name. One version holds that the name comes from ostensibly Coast Miwok words for "coast mountain" (tamal pais). Another holds that it comes from the Spanish Tamal pais, meaning "Tamal country", Tamal being the name that the Spanish missionaries gave to the Coast Miwok peoples. Yet another version holds that the name is the Coast Miwok word for "sleeping maiden" and is taken from a "Legend of the Sleeping Maiden". Despite its persistence this legend actually has no basis in Coast Miwok myth and is instead a piece of Victorian-era apocrypha.
The Coast Miwok are said to have believed that an evil witch dwelled at the top of Mount Tamalpais and therefore never set foot on the peak.
Offering trails for hiking and biking, and even spots for outdoor weddings, "Mount Tam" is a popular destination for tourists and Bay Area residents alike.