Stinson Beach to Mt Tamalpais and Back

Steep Ravine Trail
Steep Ravine Trail

I KNOW, it’s been really quiet for far too long around here. But, it’s with good cause. We bought a house at the beginning of February and have spent the past few months busying ourselves with moving and freaking out whenever we look at the bank account. And although I’ve had to sacrifice a few weekends of hiking and time with calipidder.com, I don’t think we could have picked a better time to move – the crappy weather winter hasn’t exactly had me motivated to be outside.

Calypso Orchid
Calypso Orchid

We’re now getting settled in and I’ve been able to slip out for some wildflower hikes and photography over the past few weeks. I hope to be back to my normal routine here shortly and I’ll go back and feature some trip reports from those hikes.

First up is last weekend’s outing to Mt Tamalpais. Some friends proposed a hike I’ve always wanted to do – the round trip hike to the summit from Stinson Beach. There are a lot of trails to choose from on Mt Tam and our route ended up being around 16 miles for the round trip. Starting up the Dipsea Trail, we joined Steep Ravine and took it up to Pantoll. From here it was fire road all the way to the summit, but on the return trip we took a parallel single track that took us to the really cool outdoor Mountain Theater and eventually back down to Stinson Beach via the Matt Davis (Damon) Trail.

Matt Davis Trail
Matt Davis Trail

The variety of terrain and scenery on the mountain is great, from drippy and wet redwood forest to sunny and green rolling hillsides. We saw a lot of flowers, including the rare Calypso Orchid. I think we timed the trip perfectly – any other time of year it would have been either too muddy or too hot. Lots of flower photos to be found in the gallery!

Links

Stinson Beach to Mt Tam and Back at EveryTrail

Big Basin Waterfall and Mt McAbee Loop

Berry Creek Falls
Berry Creek Falls

A new house purchase has had me quite busy lately so I’m a week late on this post, but better late then never, right? ¬†With all of the recent storms we knew the waterfalls in Big Basin would be great, so we took the first good-weather opportunity to get out there and hike.

Our route was decided upon at the park headquarters once we learned that the Skyline to the Sea trail was closed due to downed old-growth redwoods and washed out bridges. We decided to take the Sunset Trail to the waterfalls (about 6 miles), then come back via Mt McAbee, a ~1300 foot climb from the creek. In all, about a 12 mile loop with around 3000 feet of gain. A good, but not killer, workout.

The trails were muddy and covered in a lot of fresh fallen trees and branches which made the going slow at times. The air smelled fresh and the wildflowers were just starting to peek out – we saw milkmaids, trillium, and adderstongue.

The highlight of the day were the waterfalls and cascades along Berry Creek. They were rushing with the water from all of the recent rains and made for some great photography, even with my little camera.

If You Go

You can approach the falls via many different trails, but all will require a day’s commitment unless you are moving at a trail runner pace (hmm, I bet the trail from Waddell Beach would make a nice run – maybe next time). See the links below for a map.

Check with Park HQ on trail conditions – some are very muddy, others have a lot of fallen trees, and others are just fine. The info we received was a bit outdated – it turns out that the Skyline to the Sea trail was passable that day, but we didn’t hike it.

Links

Big Basin Waterfall and McAbee Loop

Redwood Peak and the Bay Area Ridge Trail

Prints
Prints

Redwood Peak is an easy little peak that’s a stone’s throw from the nearest trailhead. Not one to take the easy way, I decided to approach it from a trailhead several miles away in Chabot.

Let me back up a second – I actually started off the day with a goal to hike a segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. I needed to finish up the last few miles in Chabot (from Bort Meadow to Redwood Road), so I parked at Bort and started hiking down the BART with a firm turnaround time in mind since I had to be back at the trailhead no later than 1:30. I figured I’d knock off as many miles of the BART as I could and then turn around.
After finishing up Chabot and crossing into Redwood preserve, I pulled out the map to see what kind of loop options I had available for my return hike. There was nothing in Chabot, but something caught my eye – if I continued another 3 miles along BART I’d reach Redwood Bowl and Redwood Peak – a peak! Yay! I have a hard time resisting those. I figured I’d hike BART to the Redwood Bowl, then on the return hike I’d bag the peak and take some of the single track side trails back to Chabot.
Redwoods
Redwoods

With an hour left until my turnaround time I hustled along BART until I reached Redwood Bowl 15 minutes early. I had a snack, refilled the water bottles, and then headed up the peak. It’s a very easy one – the most excitement comes from the fact that the approach trail runs against the archery range fence and I heard several arrows flying through the woods. Hmm.

I took some of the side trails back and they were quite muddy after this week’s storms. The rain started up so I had a soaking wet slog through the trees – it was fun, and quiet. Not many people out on the muddy trails.

If You Go

There are several access points and trails in this area – you can do anything from a half mile stroll to an all day slog. The terrain varies from open ridge vistas to deep redwood and eucalyptus groves, so there is a lot of variety to enjoy.
Links

Redwood Peak via the Bay Area Ridge Trail from Chabot

A weekend at the Lost Coast

Punta Gorda
Punta Gorda

There is a stretch of coast in Northern California where Highway 1 cuts inland because the terrain was too rugged to build a road along the water. This area, called the Lost Coast, is difficult to get to and some of the most scenic and wild terrain in California. This weekend I headed up there with a bunch of friends to backpack along this coast.

The group was planning on a 25 mile trek from the Mattole Beach access point to Shelter Cove (Black Sands Beach). I was only able to join for Friday and Saturday night, so I met some of the group in Shelter Cove on Friday afternoon. We car camped and the rest of the group arrived on Saturday morning and we shuttled up to Mattole. Although Mattole Beach is only 25 miles up the coast it is about a two hour drive to get there, including a long and steep stretch on Kings Peak Road, a beautiful 4WD road through the Kings Range. After the shuttle we had lunch at the trailhead and then started the hike south to Punta Gorda Lighthouse, where we spent the night in a rather fancy driftwood wind shelter.

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