They got up early that day to head out across the estuary and wetlands: destination- Mt. Tamalpais, the Bolinas Ridge Hike- taking them on the 4th leg of their year long quest to hike the entire 300 miles of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.
Packing light as they knew they wouldn’t finish the total 6 miles of this hike, ( which they’ll complete in the next article)…they parked at Pantoll Ranger Station- the South Trailhead- from highway 101 in Mill Valley, they took the Stinson Beach/Mt. Tamalpais exit and go 2.7 milews westr on Shoreline Highway ( Highway 1). A beautiful drive through old growth forest, they then turned north on Panoramic Highway and continued approximately 6 miles NW to parking at the ranger station, which is advised, as it is safer: THOUGH DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLEs IN YOUR CAR; there are signs everywhere telling you this. The parking lot was full, so they parked at the less full Bootjack Picnic Area, which charges 8.00 to park. Its worth it- we’re helping support the State Parks system, which, as you may or may not know, is completely broke, and only through the efforts of private donors, and people who pay their fees, have we been able to keep these parks open.
This is a 6.4 mile hike, begining at the Matt Davis Trail ( he was a famous local trail builder). The well kept old trail trail is an easy one, some climbing is necessary, but for most people this is an excellent way to see the Stinson Beach from above and westward side of the great Mt. Tam ( as we here in the Bay Area call it)- especially on a clear day, which this turned out to be. Soon, though, you’ll find yourselves in a forest In fact, they started stripping off layers as they climbed steadily up the slow slope of the mountain. As the roas winds around a south facing slope it emerges from the forested glen, past the babbling brook, and crosses a steep grassy hillside…from this vantage point you can see the Bolinas Lagoon ( west) ans in the looking southeast, the san Francisco Skyline.Its all quite stunning, and on this day, one could see all of these vistas and more all along the hike.
There’ll be a fork in the road, one part of the trail will take the hiker down to Stinson Beach the other road will take you to the upper trail, the Coastal Trail ( Bob Cook Memorial Trail). You can hear the roar of the surf below as you hike further up. It is so quiet up. Just the wind, the waves of the sea, the trees and grasses gently blowing. You’ll be able to see the white line of waves breaking on Duxbury Reef beyond. Up above, Vultures with wingspans of up to five feet patrol the skies seeking carcasses to feed on down below. Deer and their fans raise their hears from their eating to sense you as you pass by. Just be quiet, respect them, let them be. The Coastal trial meanders up the side of the Mountain, in and out of folds across the ever steep hillside. You are also walking along the San Andreas fault, the now legendary faultline that destroyed San Francisco in 1906. The views are stunning up here as you reach a spur of the Bolinas Ridge. From here on clear days one can see Mt. St. Helena in the distance. Hang Gliders waft in the wind, an old car from some other century sits rusted out and bleak, making one wonder how it was the car got there- it had to have rolled 500 feet down the ravine. There are huge old oaks awaiting your arrival, to provide shade for you as you sit and eat lunch or drink water or merely take in the awesomeness all around you.
At three miles in, they had enough, the heat was intense; this was supposed to be a nice pleasant Sunday afternoon hike. They decided to head back. The next hike they take, they’ll finish the trail, but starting from the other side, rejoining the Coastal Trail where they left off today, Still, they were able to log three miles of good hard walking- 3 or 4 times a week, 2 or 3 miles at a clip, that’s what does a body good, so too for the spirit. With a hug a kiss and a drink from the water bottle, they skipped and sang their way to the car- and gently nudged the Prius back down the tights turns of Mt. Tam, being careful not to hit any bike riders on the way- there are many.
Til next time..
Over and Out