Sunshine in SF = Hiking in Marin

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!

Heading out on the Matt Davis Trail towards Stinson Beach.
Heading out on the Matt Davis Trail towards Stinson Beach. Park at the Pantoll Ranger Station for $8 or on the street for free.

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.

 A view of the trail.
A view of the Matt Davis trail.

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.

The Dipsea Trail, famous for its grueling 7.5 mile trail race.
The Dipsea Trail famous for its grueling 7.5 mile trail race.

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!

The Dipsea Trail- arid and sun-exposed. So different from Matt Davis.
The Dipsea Trail, arid and sun-exposed. So different from the Matt Davis.
The Pacific Ocean views from the Dipsea are spectactular.
The Pacific Ocean views from the Dipsea are spectacular.

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.

Some of the many stairs along Steep Ravine.
Part of the Steep Ravine Trail.
Redwoods. Nature's Cathedral.
Redwoods. Mother Nature’s Cathedral.
Advisory: Can I make it?
Advisory: Can I make it?
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
I made it! Of course, no decent blog is complete without a selfie!
I made it! No decent blog is complete without a selfie!  (Hat by Jim Thompson)

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.

Our wine, full-bodied and smooth with hints of smoke, plum, and leather.
Our wine, earthy and plummy. A perfect post-hike libation.

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!

My lovely hostess and wonderful friend, Meera.  She is wearing her glamour lady sunglasses that I love and an authentic leather Australian Outback Hat. (We are both avid sun-avoiders!)
My lovely hostess and wonderful friend, Meera. She is wearing her glamour lady sunglasses that I love so much and an authentic leather Australian Outback Hat. (We are both avid sun-avoiders!)
Enjoying good wine, good food with a good friend.  Could there be more perfect end to this perfect day?
Enjoying good wine and good food with a good friend. Could there be a more perfect end to this perfect day?

 

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