Every once in a while during the chilly SF summer, there is an absolutely, glorious warm sunny day. Everyone freaks out trying to cram as many summer activities into the 24-hour respite from the fog as possible. Recently, we had such a day and I took myself for a hike in Marin County. Just a short drive from SF across the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County is home to the world-famous beauties, Muir Woods and the Point Reyes National Seashore. It’s a sublime combination of accessible hiking (more than half of the county is public park lands) and sophisticated town living, i.e. a cocktail is never far away!
For this hike, I consulted my trusty guide, 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area by Ann Marie Brown. (See pages 156-159) It’s a 7.8 mile loop starting at the Matt Davis Trail to Stinson Beach and returning on the Dipsea Trail up Steep Ravine. During the summer, especially on week-ends, it’s best to get an early start (before 9am) as both parking and the trails get crowded.
The Matt Davis Trail is some of my favorite kind of hiking. Lush and quiet with groves of ferns at your feet while elegant bay laurels arch overhead. Even during the drought Table Rock Creek bubbles in the background providing a perfect soundtrack. The trail ends at Stinson Beach where many hikers choose to take a break for lunch. Stinson is always too busy for me in the summer so I continued on towards my next leg, the Dipsea Trail.
Since 1905, stalwart runners have taken part in this challenging race from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach on the Dipsea Trail. The race traverses a stairwell of more than 300 steps and hills named “Cardiac” and “Dynamite”. My hike covered one of the more even sections of the trail though it was not without stairs and hills!
After a little more than a mile, the Dipsea connects with the Steep Ravine Trail. Climbing 1000-feet in two miles, the trail earns its reputation as steep! Once again, I am back in my favorite terrain, shady, with towering redwoods above and the crystal pools of Webb Creek below. There’s even a 10-foot ladder to scramble over lending a true rugged feeling to the hike.
My three-hour hike brought me back to the parking lot at Pantoll Station where I had cocktails on the brain. Fortunately, my wonderful friend, Meera lives close by and she invited me to her beautiful Marin County home. Meera is a fabulous chef and an invitation to dine at “Casa Meera” is not to be refused.
On my arrival, Meera greeted me with a hug and a glass of orange-lemon water (for hydration). We also enjoyed a glass of delicious red wine, Chateau Saint-Aubin. For lunch, I was served Greek Salad made with heirloom tomatoes, my first of the season I am ashamed to say. (It’s particularly shameful because there’s a fabulous farmer’s market in my neighborhood. Visit Noe Valley Farmers Market to learn more.) Meera ended our meal with homemade flour-less chocolate cake – gluten-free never tasted so good!