Truthbutter

Mt. Tamalpais – Matt Davis/Steep Ravine Loop

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Today’s hike was pretty spectacular. This loop was recommended by a website I’ve been using to choose from the seemingly endless hiking trails in the Bay Area, and it was definitely a great choice!

It had a little of everything – winding, shaded trails lined with ferns and moss-covered trees, cute wooden bridges over creeks that tumble down into waterfalls, exposed trails over grassy hilltops with views to the ocean, scrubby coastal plants, savory-smelling bay groves, and even towering redwoods. It felt like someone had sliced up all the hikes I’ve done so far on this trip, picked the best bits of each, and shoved them together into a seamless 7.3 mile, 3.5 hour hike.

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The views don’t compare to other hikes in the area, but definitely a nice bonus!

The downside is that apparently a lot of people also think these trails are gorgeous, and it was the most crowded hike I’ve done so far. The other hikers did detract from the experience a little bit for me, and I’m very glad I decided to go on a weekday rather than a weekend; I can’t imagine what the trails would look like on a Saturday in the summer.

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That said, I think the route I took – starting and ending at Stinson Beach, rather than Pantoll ranger station – really helped. It seemed like most people started and ended at Pantoll, so while I did pass a lot of other hikers going in the opposite direction, I didn’t find myself awkwardly keeping pace with people going in the same direction as me.

Another plus of starting and ending at Sinson Beach was that once I got back to my car, I could take off my shoes and go stick my sore feet in the freezing ocean water. There should be an ocean at the end of every hike.

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This is also a good hike for people with digestive issues, because you get a restroom at Pantoll at the halfway point. And although the website I linked above estimates this as a 4-hour hike, it only took me 3.5 hours, and that was at a leisurely pace with plenty of stops. I actually wished it was a little longer. And the trails were the perfect difficulty – some steep sections that were a good leg workout, but not so demanding that it detracted from the enjoyment.

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I would absolutely recommend this hike to anyone in the area. The trails are really wonderfully crafted and maintained, and practically every step I was stopping to take a picture because of how gorgeous everything was. (And almost every time I frustratedly deleted the picture because it looked like crap compared to the actual trail.)

I will say, though – the Steep Ravine trail was quite similar to the Bootjack trail I did in the rain a couple weeks ago, and I think I do actually prefer forest hikes in the rain. It was nice not to be soaking wet and freezing afterwards, but there’s something about rainy weather that makes the forest seem mystical and magical. Plus, no crowds.

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But the redwoods were still pretty spectacular, even in the sunlight. I guess you can’t really go wrong with trees that are a thousand years old.

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