Walkabout California

Hiking Inn to Inn

My husband Tom and I spent this past weekend hiking in Marin, as a celebration of our 9th anniversary. We left the kids with my folks and took off Friday morning to the Headlands, where we talked with a volunteer in the Visitor's Center. They had not heard of Walkabout and weren't sure what we should do about the car. Finally, after a few discussions and phone calls with other docents, it was decided that we could leave the car in the Headlands, and a pass was written out for us, which we left on our dash. We parked at the warehouse down by the lake. The trail begins right there to the right.

We took the Miwok Trail to Wolf Ridge and lunched at the top of the Ridge, as we had gotten a late start. This is the first ridge of three on the way to Muir Beach. The final hike down into Muir Beach was nice, though we were unsure exactly which way to go at the bottom. We bore left which then took us near the Beach parking lot, and then eventually out to the road and the Pelican Inn.

The Pelican Inn hadn't heard of Walkabout either, but they were thrilled by the idea and glad to be included. We stayed in their smallest room, cozy and lovely, and had a delicious dinner with live music. We hung out in the 'Snug,' a room they keep for guests, playing cards and backgammon, until we fell into bed exhausted. Tom and I hike quite a bit, but this was our first time with large packs, and we also realized quickly how middle-aged our knees really are. This time of year, the terrain is quite dry, and the downhills were quite slippery. We had glorious weather, but very little humidity, so the scree was loose and crumbly.

The breakfast at Pelican was large and delicious. They purchase bread from the nearby Green Gulch farm, which was the best bread I've ever eaten, I think. We left the Pelican Inn and walked to the beach parking lot, going right as Tom C. said to do, and found the stairs with a little bit of searching. They are at the top of a short steep driveway. There is no gate. At the top of the stairs we turned left as guided, but no stairs. We ended up going into someone's back yard, which was embarrassing, but the nice homeowner got us back on the right path. The stairs up to Sea Cape are actually directly above the stairs that we had just taken from the beach parking. The community center is a large wood house with a play structure in the back. This is a long flight of stairs and it feels as though you are going to someone's house, but that is the community center.

On Sea Cape there is a long paved climb on the road up to the Muir Beach overlook.

The walk on Hwy 1 is short but quite busy, and we didn't find the shoulder deep at all, but we made it ok to the Coastal Trail, which provides a nice long slow 1200 ft gain of elevation. (By the way, we used a GPS application on Tom's iPhone which showed us all the trails and the topographical map - brilliant. I think it cost $3.) This being a Saturday, there were quite a lot of mountain bikers. It was a lovely walk up, going through surprise woods and with excellent views. We lunched at the top of "Cardiac Hill," (not a bad hill at all in fact) where the Coastal trail meets the Dipsea.

The hike down the ravine was quite interesting - beautiful and leisurely at the top, with several hundred stairs near the bottom, which was challenging. I was very glad to be going down those stairs rather than up. :) At the bottom there was a nice little stream and pond which was surprising and fun. Finally we could see Stinson, and it's a long slow hike down to the beach from there, with lots of day hikers.

We stayed in the Redwood Haus which was a strange little place. Most hotels in Stinson wanted us to stay two nights, which wasn't possible for us, and RH was the only place that would take us for one. The owner was quite nice and even washed my hiking pants for me, but there was a great deal of clutter and an odd smell.

We had a great meal at the Beach Side Cafe and wandered around town for awhile. Breakfast at RH was also iffy; but we made do with some very dense sunflower seed bread and coffee. We caught the Marin Stagecoach from the Beach parking lot and got off at Tam Junction. Walked along Hwy 1 for a short bit, then a longer walk down Tennessee Valley Rd, with quite a bit of traffic and a shallow shoulder.

The Oakwood Valley trail was interesting. There was one steep section that was hard to navigate, again because of the extreme dryness, I think. It was less hiking and more climbing and making a way around deep gorges and slippery scree. Once at the top, it was an easy hike up along the Alta Trail (with great views of Sausalito), and then a long slow down on the Bobcat. LOTS of bikers coming down the Bobcat, flying down next to us with not one "to your left!" or anything like that. That annoyed us as it happened 10-15 times. But it was a nice walk back into the Rodeo Valley and back to our car.

What a great, great trip with wonderful memories. I wish I was still out on the trail. We'll definitely be doing this again.

Thanks, Elizabeth

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Comment by Emily Courtney on September 18, 2010 at 11:00am
Elizabeth and Tom,

Sounds like a fun trip! My husband Mike and I love the Marin walkabout. We live in SF, so we like to walk from home across the Golden Gate bridge and over the hill into the Marin Headlands, spending the first night at the Marin Headlands hostel. This solves the parking issue at the Headlands. We can take the Stage and Golden Gate transit back to 3 blocks from home. What a treat. Truth be told though, we've never found parking overnight at the Marin Headlands a problem.

We love the Pelican Inn! But we've had the same strange experience at the Redwood Haus. Tom has integrated these comments from walkabout hikers like us into the latest version of the Marin guide.

Ted, I'm a bit late with this recommendation, but Mike and I celebrated our anniversary last year with the Mendocino Walkabout. It was extraordinary. Beautiful scenery, romantic resorts. Highly recommended.

Comment by Ted Milkoff on June 23, 2010 at 5:08pm
Elizabeth, Thanks for the info. We are thinking of doing this in July for our anniversary again this year. I haven't checked this in a long time and saw that you had commented on my blog about Mendocino. It was a great trip. Anyway, if you and Tom are ever up in Sonoma County, I work Friday and Saturday at Hanna Winery in the tasting room. Great wine and spectacular views. It's in Alexander Valley and the tasting is on me. Hope to see you. Ted

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