One of my favorite things to do when traveling is finding trails or pathways to walk or hike. I have a reason to believe my friend Arlene feels the same and together over the years we have done a variety of hiking and walking trips around California. We have hiked the high country of Yosemite National Park, enjoyed a number of San Francisco stairway walks and several years ago set ourselves the challenge of doing 10km walks created by the California Volkssport Association in each of California’s counties. Out of 58 counties, we were able to complete about 40 walks and along the way learned a lot about the history and attributes of this great state. The Steep Ravine hike was a trek Arlene introduced me to some years ago and while recently spending time back in Northern California, we decided to walk this trail again towards the end of January.
The Steep Ravine Trail is located in Mt. Tamalpais State Park, in a hilly area of Marin County north of San Francisco. As my title suggests, the walk is magical as it enters a lush redwood canyon amass with ferns and a rushing stream. We were fortunate to go at just the right time after the area had received some significant rainfall, meaning there would be water in the canyon. In addition, we had a sunny, fairly warm day so the conditions could not have been better.
The narrow rocky trail descends (sometimes rather steeply) almost the entire way through the canyon with lots of steps to navigate. That meant of course a steep climb back up. But not for us as we had other plans in mind you will see later in this post.
I love hiking among redwoods, in a rainforest environment with moss covered trees and ferns dripping with water. Steep Ravine offered us all of that and it was a picture perfect walk. The bonus was all the little waterfalls along the way with the biggest next to the fun part: A ladder propped next to a rock for us to descend before continuing along the trail.
We had our only mishap of the hike when Arlene threw her walking sticks down before climbing the ladder. She had meant for them to hit the trail, but one of them splashed into the pool in front of the waterfall. While I contemplated whether to wade in and retrieve it, a “knight in shining armor” came to our rescue. A young man arrived who had better balance than us and bracing himself against a tree next to the pool, was able to grab it from the water.
It was easy to dawdle in this forest, taking in all the beauty and sounds of water burbling over rocks and logs. We crossed so many bridges I quickly lost count. When hiking I am always so grateful when bridges are securely in place and no fording or rock hopping is needed!
Our dawdling though meant that we might miss our plan to be at the town of Stinson Beach before 3:00. The Steep Ravine Trail leads out of the forest with expansive views to the ocean below. Even though we had been here before, we were still surprised once we got out to the open how far away it looked, so we needed to start power walking down the hillside. We also had one more lush green forest (this time oaks) to traverse before hitting the town.
Our goal was the bus stop with a 3:00 pickup and we got there with just a minute to spare. The whole walk down we were hoping the bus would be running late. It came right on time so luckily we were there because we did not want to walk back up the ravine. For just $2.00, the bus took us back up to the parking lot where we left our vehicle – what a great deal!
Our next plan of action was driving to the little town of Sausalito and a great dining spot called the “Spinnaker.” Just eating here for the views is worth it because the restaurant sits right on San Francisco Bay with lots of windows on three sides. In addition, the food and service is very good. When we arrived we were treated to skyline views lit by beautiful late afternoon light.
We dined on wonderfully prepared scallops while watching the sunset and lights come on in the City.
It was indeed a magical day in the San Francisco Bay Area. Thanks for checking in – next time a post on two California Central Valley treasures!