Tamalpais Walking: Poetry, History, and Prints

Seventy-two views of Mt. Tamalpais

2010 NCIBA Book of the Year Award Winner

In a new collaboration by the authors of the bestselling The High Sierra of California, readers are introduced to the unique mountain overlooking San Francisco Bay. A source of story and myth since time began, Mt. Tamalpais has inspired conservationists, trail builders, botanists, artists, and poets for more than a century.

With freshness and sustained delight, Tamalpais Walking explores Mt. Tamalpais’s natural, cultural, historic, and spiritual dimensions. It is a book shaped by two master craftsmen collaborating on an enterprise nurtured by long and passionate involvement. The artwork is the product of Tom Killion’s decades of depicting and interpreting the mountain’s many moods and aspects. Gary Snyder has been hiking Mt. Tamalpais since 1948, and through poetry and a new, revealing essay he offers his thoughts on the mountain, its history, and the practice of walking meditation.

Further enriched with Killion’s essays on the mountain’s history and selections from the work of Jack Kerouac, Ina Coolbrith, Kenneth Rexroth, and Lew Welch, Tamalpais Walking takes us deep into Mt. Tamalpais’s pathways, offering original, revelatory views of a mountain prominent not just on the landscape but in the history and imagination of the West Coast.


“When the great Japanese artist Hokusai shifted the focus of ukiyo-e painting from the "floating world" of actors and concubines to the natural majesty of Mt. Fuji, he achieved the flowering of his genius. The natural majesty of the mountain and his skill had become completely fused, producing enchanting results. Something similar occurs in the luminous collaboration of poet Gary Snyder and artist Tom Killion in their new book, Tamalpais Walking. The union of extraordinary graphics and extraordinary language celebrates the lore, history, and geology of the "serpentine dragon's tooth," on whose flank I have lived, on and off, for forty years. Mt. Tamalpais must have dreamed these two fine artists as a means of affording itself suitable honors. This book is a triumph of subject and form. Don't miss it.”

—Peter Coyote, actor/writer


Tamalpais Walking...is a joy to hold and behold.”

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review


“The large and gorgeous coffee-table book should claim a prominent spot not only in local living rooms but on bookshelves, classrooms, under holiday trees and anywhere those who have hiked, biked, and loved the mountain might be found.”

Pacific Sun


Tamalpais Walking...is a tribute to the tradition [of circumabulation] and to the local mountain as both graphic and poetic muse.”

San Francisco Magazine

Listen to the KQED "Forum" interview with Tom Killion and Gary Snyder

About the Artist and Author

Tom KillionWoodcut and letterpress artist Tom Killion grew up in Marin County, California, on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais, where the rugged scenery inspired him from an early age to create landscape prints strongly influenced by traditional Japanese woodblock prints. Along with publishing fine art letterpress books, Killion holds a PhD in African history from Stanford University and has taught history at several Bay Area universities. He is the founder of The Quail Press and his extensively illustrated books include 28 Views of Mount Tamalpais, The Coast of California, and Walls: A Journey Across Three Continents. Killion and Gary Snyder previously collaborated on The High Sierra of California, which was published by Heyday in 2002 and Tamalpais Walking, published in 2009. You can find out more about his artwork at www.tomkillion.com.  

Photo by Katsunori Yamazato

Gary SnyderGary Snyder is a poet, author, scholar, cultural critic, and professor emeritus of the University of California at Davis who has published sixteen books of poetry and prose, including The Gary Snyder Reader (1952–1998) . He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His Turtle Island won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1975, and his book-length poem Mountains and Rivers Without End won the Bollingen Prize in poetry in 1997. In 2008 he was awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement.