Place: Mount Tamalpais State Park, Stinson Beach, California
Coordinates: 37.897845, -122.637123
Length: 7 miles
This loop - the Dipsea/Steep Ravine/Matt Davies Trails, I hiked with Pappa Quail way back when before we became parents. Since then I came back to that area many times but only to hike the Matter Davies Trail which makes half of that loop (the downhill half :-) ) from the Pantoll Station to Stinson Beach. When my hiking group asked for a more challenging trail than those I normally take them to I thought it might be a good chance to do the complete loop again. Nearly all the photos here I took on my earlier solo hike, with a few added from the later group hike, including the bird photos taken by Pappa Quail on that day.
|Our hike as captured by Pappa Quail's GPS|
This trail leads from Stinson Beach to the Pantoll Road some distance above the intersection with Hwy 1. Across the road, almost hidden in the brush, is the Dipsea trailhead.
For a short distance the trail climbed through a grove of gnarly and twisted oaks.
I was duly impressed with the lacy look of the twisted canopy. It reminded me of the pygmy oaks of Los Osos Elfin Forest.
Two weeks later Pappa Quail saw a chickadee in the trees there.
I didn't expect to see much bloom so late in the season, but there was some. In the chaparral were also some monkeyflower blossoms.
The Steep Ravine Trail is true to its name. Soon after making the turn the trail started climbing at a much steeper grade, including staircases of wood and dirt.
I was surprised at the number of fallen trees that barred the trail. Clearly they were lying there for some time and not recently fallen. In most cases I could hop over or limbo my way under them, not having to circumvent around them on the slope.
As I climbed higher I left the oaks behind me, below. The forest was now mainly of conifers: fir and redwood.
The pecking of woodpeckers was a common sound around as I was making my way up the trail. I didn't get to see more than a fleeting glimpse of the bird as it flew from one tree to another. Pappa Quail has more patience than me apparently, and on our later hike he caught one of them on camera.
|The view form the top of the Matt Davies Trail|
|California Racer Snake|
The dark cypress trees are a perfect cover for birds. But then again, those who search for birds eventually finds them :-)
I was amazed to see that it was the western slop of the mountain that was so lightly forested. I wonder if the soil there doesn't hold water as well.
On the day of my solo hike Mount Tam was bathing in bright sunlight but San Francisco was deep in fog. On my second hike however, light clouds spread across the sky all around and San Francisco was visible on the south.
Eventually the trail became considerably steeper and I was skipping down narrow flights of stairs trying not to lose my balance in my rapid descent. The surroundings changed too - I was back inside the forest, this time with oaks and laurels. The forest floor was carpeted with fern.
When I reemerged from the forest I was almost at the foot of the mountain. At that point I was worried about getting back home in time to pick up my chikas from school so I didn't stop anymore to take photo. Not many, anyway.
Just before coming into town again I had to stop and look at the trees again because that entire bit of forest was completely covered with English ivy. That menace of a vine, brought hither from the old country to cover houses and make them look like Europe and quickly found its way to the wild and is busy changing the California landscape, and rapidly. And the sad thing is that this plant is still propagated on purpose and commonly planted in gardens and yards. Once established, there's no getting rid of it. I know, I am losing the battle with those in my own yard.
|English Ivy, Header helix. Non-native, invasive.|