Muir Woods, Stinson Beach & Mount Tamalpais: 4 July 2004

A grand loop of 18 miles in distance, 11 hours in time plus 4,500 feet of climbing

Latitude: North 37° 53.714’

Longitude: West 122° 34.520’

Photos by Neil Mishalov and Pascal LaCroix

"... Tamalpais can be seen as the climax of this incomparable landscape at the continent's edge, this place where the Pacific breaches the thousand-mile mountain barrier along the western rim of America." ---Harold Gilliam

On the 4th of July, American Independance Day, the Stanford University Outing Club put on a grand 18 mile trek of the Mount Tamalpais area. The intention was to ascend the East Peak of Mount Tamalpais shortly before sunset, and view the firework displays that would unfold 2,571 feet below us. The summer fog did not agree with our plan, and we were only able to see a few fireworks that burst through the fog. The natural beauty of the hike was a delightful substitute for the fireworks.

MUIR WOODS NATIONAL MONUMENT, the starting and finishing point of this hike, is approximately 30 miles west from my home in Berkeley, California.

Some hike factoids and statistics: Time on the trail: 1:00 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. Number of hikers: 7. Distance covered: 18.47 miles. Total ascent: 4,500 feet. Maximum elevation: 2,571 feet. Route: Muir Woods National Monument => Dipsea Trail => Stinson Beach => Belvedere Avenue => Matt Davis Trail => Nora Trail => West Point Inn => Old Railroad Grade => East Peak Summit => Fern Creek Trail => Old Railroad Grade => Hogback Fire Road => Mountain Home Inn => Ocean View Trail => Muir Woods National Monument

All Images and Text Copyright © by Neil Mishalov


Topographic Map with Route Superimposed:

Data gathered with a Garmin 60C GPS RECEIVER

Topographic mapping program for Macintosh OSX by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Elevation Profile of Ascent and Descent

Satellite Photo Map with Route Superimposed:

Terrabrowser satellite mapping program for Macintosh OSX by CHIMOOSOFT

GPS track converter by GPS-BABEL

Click on an image to see the full size picture

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The hike started at the entrance to Muir Woods National Monument at 1:00 p.m. We traveled west towards Stinson Beach via the Dipsea Trail. We are now about 1 mile from Stinson Beach. From left to right: Whitney, Stefania and Johnny, the leader of this hike Pascal, a French student from Grenoble, is spending 7 months at Stanford working on his Masters thesis
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The beach was crowded with visitors for the 4th of July holiday The fog is heavy over the ocean, but it is still sunny on the beach 6 of the 7 participants pose for a group picture
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We are going to climb almost 2,000 feet up Bolinas Ridge via the Matt Davis Trail. The start of the trail in Stinson Beach is on Belvedere Avenue Whitney on the Matt Davis Trail Whitney works for a local television station
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The Matt Davis Trail The Matt Davis Trail leaves the ocean, and the fog, behind The Matt Davis Trail is 6.7 miles long and was constructed by Matt Davis in 1929. He died in 1938
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On the trail The group reconnects near the top of the trail. This is Chia
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Pascal is a visiting student from France This is Dan; he is a Stanford graduate and a software engineer Johnny, the fearless leader of this hike, is reviewing the route with Chia
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Stefania, in the front, is a Ph.D candidate at Stanford. Whitney is behind Stefania This is a view of San Francisco...really! The fog is thick and beautiful. If you look closely you can see the top of the San Francisco TV transmission tower poking through the fog. Can you see it? Chia and Dan taking a break on the trail
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An underground spring provides the moisture necessary for these tubers to survive Neil Mishalov with his Garmin GPS 60C receiver on his shoulder and an external Gilsson MCX GPS antenna attached to the top of his hat. He is a technogeek Pantoll Ranger Station, 1,499 feet. We take a short break as we prepare for the final leg of the climb to the top of Mount Tamalpais (2,571 feet)
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We continue on the Matt Davis Trail Pascal turns a corner on the trail. Can you identify the type of shoes that Pascal is wearing on this 18 mile, 4,500 foot ascent and 4,500 foot descent, hike? The answer will be obvious shortly The East Peak of Mount Tamalpais. We will attempt to view the firework display from the summit...if the fog allows
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Mount Diablo in the distance. The fog has rolled into the bay and over Berkeley West Point Inn (1,800 feet). This building was constructed in 1896. It was a stop on the Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway. The route was from downtown Mill Valley to the East Peak. The railroad was built in 1896 and was demolished in 1930 Johnny is reviewing the map, and Stefania is pleased that we are finally approaching the summit of Mount Tam
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The summit beckons! The late afternoon sun casts a magical glow on the East Peak. We will watch the sunset from the summit On the summit. The group takes some pictures and waits for the sunset The fog is thick and moving fast. We will not get great views of the fireworks, but the natural views more than compensate for the lack of fireworks
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Sunset over the fog covered Pacific Ocean Part of the bay is fog free. The mountain range blocks the fog from continuing east Neil Mishalov and the sunset. Photo by Pascal LaCroix
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Dan and Chia relaxing on the summit Chia taking a picture of the sunset. Photo by Pascal LaCroix Pascal eating some chocolate covered cherries
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We started down from the summit at about 10:00 p.m. It was a 4 mile, 2 hour, 2,300 foot descent in total darkness. Without our flashlights we would not have been able to continue. We reenter Muir Woods 11 hours after we left Pascal's footwear! Yes, he did the entire hike in sandals. At 12:15 a.m. we finished this excellent adventure.

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This page created on 9 July 2004. All photographs copyright 2004 by Neil Mishalov