Hiking Mt. Tamalpais — Matt Davis Trail

Friends kindly invited us to go hiking at Mt. Tam yesterday and we were thrilled to go! Without a car, it’s rare we leave the city. (I also shamelessly stole their photos for this post because I am SO BAD at remembering to take photos myself. Thank you Jessi, Alex, Pujita, and Gaurav! I’ll pay royalties once I start making money off this blog.)

Mt. Tam is a peak in Marin County, about an hour north of the city. To get there, you drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and through the hills.

Our hike started at Stinson Beach, which is surrounded by a tiny beach town. It’s really cute, but I don’t know what all the people who live there do! They must commute to the city or something.

PC: Nick

The beach is very clean; there’s not even shells or rocks around. The dog watching was excellent. 12/10 doggos for sure.

We chose the Matt Davis trail, though Mt. Tam has others to choose from. The Matt Davis trail is the first half of a ~7 mile loop that starts and ends at the beach. It’s moderately difficult and is the top ranked Mt. Tam hike on AllTrails. After the Matt Davis Trail, the Steep Ravine Trail makes way to the Dipsea Trail to bring us back to the ocean level. You can go the other way around, but I don’t advise it for those who have poor knees and joints — going downhill on the Matt Davis Trail might even be tougher than going up.

Very quickly after starting the hike, you’re climbing in elevation. The first half is the hardest since it’s all uphill and mostly switchbacks. Despite this, this route is really rewarding; while there is a defined path, you still have to navigate over fallen trees and little streams, so it seems like you’re Indiana Jones on an adventure.

A selfie break. From left to right: Jessi, her husband Alex, Pujita, Gaurav, Me, Nick. PC: Jessi

The coolest part of the hike is that you experience varied landscapes. First, it’s all dense forest. Then all of a sudden, you’re out in an open field:

PC: Jessi
PC: Jessi

Here we are at the “top” of the hike. It’s not the highest point of Mt. Tam, but it’s the highest point of our particular trail.

Way off into the distance you can see the city — the photos don’t do it justice, but you could even see Sutro Tower and the general location of our house. PC: Jessi

After you continue along the trail, you actually enter into what I thought was the best part of the forest: the redwoods! There are huge redwoods in Marin, and they’re really beautiful.

PC: Nick
PC: Nick

Even better, because of all the rains this year, the streams and waterfalls are active. At one point we took a break and stuck our feet in the water. Refreshing, but it was painfully cold.

A cool feature: there’s a little 10 foot ladder you have to climb down to continue on the path!

PC: Jessi
Traffic jams happen even in nature. PC: Nick

Finally, here we are approaching the end of the hike back toward Stinson Beach. By this point, everything was downhill and a leisurely stroll back to the bottom.

PC: Gaurav

Overall, this is an excellent hike for anyone who is generally active. The first part is difficult, but it’s rewarding. While there were some other folks out on the trail too, it wasn’t too crowded. A nice plus: much of the trail is shaded by tree cover. It was hot this weekend!

Afterward we ate at an overpriced restaurant, but I got to pet a cute dog (Charlie, 8 month old Bernese Mountain Dog) so it was ok.

I definitely plan to do this hike again. It’s by far my favorite hike I’ve done in the Bay.

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