Mt. Tam – Pantoll Ranger Station to Stinson Beach – Dipsea Trail
Date: 17 August 2014
Duration: ½ day
Distance: ~7 miles
Trail: Old Mine Trail -> Bench -> Dipsea Trail -> Stinson beach -> Dipsea Trail -> Steep Ravine Trail -> Panton Ranger station parking lot.
Notes: Very picturesque when foggy and quite shaded throughout Dipsea trail and Steep Ravine trail.
Having attempted Matterhorn Peak hike only the previous day, I happily got to bed at 2:30am and went to sleep. The next day, it was drive through SF and onto Mt. Tamalpais state park. The group – Rajath, Vikas, Lakshmi, Lakshman, Umesh, Sandeep and I. We took two cars and after a wrong start point, we reached the Pantoll Ranger station parking lot. Going on the wrong trail or the wrong direction seemed to happen to me twice in one weekend.
We started the hike at about 10am. The weather was perfect for the hike. We first took the Alice Eastwood Road for about 10mins and then realized that it wasn’t the trailhead. So we got back to Pantoll Ranger station parking lot. Luckily we got parking spots for both the cars. Gearing up was about 5 mins and we were off on the Old Mine trial. The trail first began descending slowing taking us into this magical realm of trees and mystical creatures I’d add if I were writing a novel. The mist just made it that much better. The fern on the trees shone bright in the faint background of the trees and the dense vegetation. The trail is pretty much a one-person walkway completely covered by dense trees. Very faint light enters this part of the park. The trees were just magical and I couldn’t but stop and take quite a few pictures. By 10:40am we were at the bench present at the intersection of the old mine trail and the Dipsea trail. Since this was a short hike we contemplated quite a bit as to what to do – walk down the dipsea trail and loop back on the Steep ravine trail or go down all the way to the beach and then come back top.
Having decided to go down all the way to the beach, we started along the Dipsea trail behind what seemed to be a long queue of hikers. The Dipsea trail is one of the most used trails in the Mt. Tam state park area and this is also due to the obvious reasons – beauty, fun access to the beach and
peaceful walk in nature. The trail after a while opened up to a landing with short bushes and trees. This reminded me of Coorg and the coffee estates back in India. The place was just picture perfect. I spent a lot of time clicking pictures and just lagging behind trotting around. After this perfect beautiful place the trail then meandered into the very core of the costal redwood trees. The magnificent large and tall trees stood mighty above us. It was a wonderful feeling to be walking amongst these big ancient trees. The mist and the light made it like the forest that was pictured in Jurassic Park.
After a lot of fun talk, pictures and hiking down, we reached an opening overlooking the beach. We got to the beach at 12:00pm. People got burgers from this great beach side place named the “Parkside” something.. It did server one of the best veggie burgers I’ve had in the US. We spent a while in the beach and then decided to take the bus back to the parking lot. The bus was to leave at 1:50pm and we were just waiting around without having to do anything. At this point, some of them decided to get ice-cream and the rest of us – imagine what – we decided to hike back up to the parking lot instead of taking the bus. I was totally up for take the bus back and I almost decided to do that but then going up that early would mean I’d have to wait for everyone else to hike up. So I just decided to stick with the group and hike back to the top.
We took the trail back up. Going up was quite fun after all the descent on the way down. The Steep Ravine trail was quite fun too. It has a 10 foot “so called ladder” which is more or less a staircase at the end of about 1.8 miles from the intersection of the Steep Ravine and the Dipsea trail. We went up quite fast and reached the parking lot at 3:15pm. It was a fun hike and especially a wonderful photography trip. Do check out the pictures. What a way to end the weekend!
More great pictures: here :)