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Stinson Beach, California, United States

Steep Ravine via Matt Davis, Mt Tamalpais

Get an early start to enjoy one of Mt Tamalpais' most loved and most distinctive trails.

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 (50 votes, 10 reviews)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 6.5 miles / 10.5 km
Duration: Half day
 
Overview: Steep Ravine is a real jewel in Marin County's crown. Cutting deep into the landscape over millennia the water rushing through Webb Creek has created a spectacularly steep sided and lush canyon shaded by towering redwood trees and populated with a wide variety of local flora and fauna.

This trail really draws the crowds, so we heartily recommend hitting it early and hitting it first.

Rounding of this 6.5 mile hike our route guides you down the coastal section of the Matt Davis Trail promising wide sweeping ocean views and even more dense woodland switchbacks.

Elevation gain:
• 1,900ft (from 0 - 1,700ft)

Tips:
• Good shoes are recommended to handle potentially slippery surfaces on the Steep Ravine trail.
• Mt Tamalpais State Park and the neighboring Muir Moods National Monument get very busy and an early start is recommended to avoid traffic congestion and full parking lots.
• Coastal fog can reduce visibility, particularly in the morning and particularly here on the West side of the park. Steep Ravine can still be enjoyed despite fog, and the return leg down Matt Davis Trail can still reward as the clouds burn off.
• Clockwise routes of this trail are useful to burn off the total elevation gain in a shorter distance up Steep Ravine, so you can enjoy the longer return journey as a downhill route.

Alternatives:
• Start at Pan Toll ranger station and take a clockwise journey along the route, hitting Steep Ravine first to avoid the crowds later in the day.


Points of Interest

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Trailhead

You'll find the trailhead just south of Stinson Beach's firehouse. This does require a very short walk along Route 1, but this is very easy to do safely.

Our hike begins where the Dipsea Trail starts, and after passing over another road (and an alternative parking/trailhead location) you'll be heading out over rolling hills towards the Steep Ravine Trail.
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Alternative Trailhead

Here you'll find some parking opportunities. Don't fret if these are all full, as there are plenty more spots in Stinson Beach just north of here.
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[JCT] Turn Left onto Steep Ravine Trail

Hang a left here and say goodbye to the coastal views for a while, since you're headed deep into canyon country.
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Steep Ravine Trail

Take the trip up Steep Ravine Trail alongside Webb Creek and up through the wonderfully dense redwood forest.

Sections of this trail can be rather steep but it's unlikely that you'll notice as you'll be too busy admiring the picturesque cascading streams.

The steepest of the sections is navigated by a wooden ladder around 15 feet in height. Just watch your steps here (particularly in the rain) and you'll be up and over it in no time.
map

Pan Toll Ranger Station

The end of Steep Ravine brings you out by the Pan Toll ranger station and parking lot. A great place to fill the water bottle, talk with a ranger, or make use of the restroom facilities.

Once you're ready for the next leg of your journey head to entrance of the parking lot, cross the road and follow Pantoll Road uphill.
map

Matt Davis Trail

If your legs are aching from the climb up Steep Ravine, then you'll be relieved to hear that it's all downhill from this point onward.

We pick up the narrow Matt Davis Trail at the side of Pantoll Road and head for the coast.
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Out of the trees

The first part of our Matt Davis hike keeps us under woodland shelter, but soon we're out onto the exposed grassy hillsides where we can admire the views out onto the Pacific Ocean.
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[JCT] Stay on Matt Davis Trail

It's Matt Davis all the way.
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Back among the Redwoods

Enter the shady groves of California redwoods and evergreens, switchbacking down hillsides and watch the sunlight stream from between the trees as you descend.
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Belvedere Avenue Trailhead

Now you're back in suburbia you're almost done. Take a left turn down this road and it'll lead you back to your starting point where you can rest your heels. Or alternatively, check out nearby Stinson Beach and feel the sand between your toes.
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Stinson Beach Fire Station

On the corner of Belvedere Avenue and Route 1, the Stinson Beach Fire Station is a very useful route-finding landmark. Our recommended trail begins just to the right of the firehouse, and ends just up Belvedede Avenue to the left.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Trailspotting

Trailspotting content © Stuart Green 2010 including text, images, videos and route detail.
Reviews
eroticcub
Great hike, I actually did the hike in reverse. Parked at the Pan Toll ranger station and hiked down to Stinson Beach. Great place to have a nibble and a beer there at the Parkside Cafe before the hike back.
Visited on Aug 19, 2014

by eroticcub on Aug 23, 2014
inqueba
a great place to go...amazing experience

by inqueba on Jul 17, 2014
hairtransplant
Great Place... Quite a difficult... but must visit once in a life

by hairtransplant on Jul 17, 2014
Malwina
wow, so fantastic! nice photo
Visited on Jun 16, 2014

by Malwina on Jun 16, 2014
jnnrenae
We love this lush and scenic trail. A bit muddy beneath the tree cover in wetter months, but we've hiked it in both the rainy and dry seasons. One of our favorites.

by jnnrenae on Apr 14, 2014
Youngb55
This is my new favorite hike in the area and the directions were perfect.
Visited on Nov 16, 2000

by Youngb55 on Nov 18, 2013
fixasso
Super. I like this photos.
Visited on Feb 01, 2013

by fixasso on Oct 03, 2013
pws5068
Very great hike, I followed this counter-clockwise version of the trip and enjoyed it a lot. Park at Stinson beach near the south end of the parking lot if there's space available and hike up to dipsea to begin. Weekends will have a ton of people on Dipsea but once you get to the Steep Ravine portion there will still be a small crowd but less than before. Beautiful hike, enjoy!!
Visited on May 13, 2012

by pws5068 on May 14, 2012
McLean
^^^^^ Ditto. Great hike!

by McLean on Jul 26, 2010
pablo
Followed this yesterday -- one of the coolest hikes I've ever been on. Love the way it goes through three distinct microclimates (redwoods, grasslands, monterey pine/ bay forest).

by pablo on Jul 26, 2010

Steep Ravine via Matt Davis, Mt Tamalpais Trail Map


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