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Wild Recovery
San Jose, California
August 22, 2015
Matt Davis - Steep Ravine Loop (Stinson Beach)
Marin County
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Matt Davis - Steep Ravine Loop (Stinson Beach)
August 22, 2015
Host: Nico R.

The Place

A popular hike departing from the town of Stinson Beach, strung together from the Matt Davis, Steep Ravine, and Dipsea trails. The 7 mile loop features a bit of everything with waterfalls, Redwoods, Douglas Fir and Oak Forests. These three trails are some of Tam’s best and combining them into one hike intensifies the pleasure. Matt Davis is a masterpiece trail—the perfect trail through a spectacular landscape. The entire experience from Stinson Beach to Pantoll and back is a joy. Steep Ravine starts out in a beautiful Redwood Canyon and gets better with each step as you descend past waterfalls and down a famous ladder. The hike only spends a short time on historic Dipsea but this segment showcases fabulous gasp worthy views of Stinson Beach.

Walking the Walk

Level: 3.5 - Miles: 7.3 - Elevation: 1,600'

The trail begins a moderate ascent, guided occasionally by wooden fences. Buckeye and California bay offer shade, and a creek provides soothing aquatic murmurs. You might see iris, forget-me-not, milkmaids, buttercup, and vetch blooming in early spring. Matt Davis Trail draws near the creek, then turns left and winds back uphill to cross the stream on a bridge. After a few more tight switchbacks you'll emerge in chaparral, where you can enjoy an initial view west to the ocean

Enjoy the sunlight while you can, for the trail quickly heads back into the woods. Big-leaf maple and buckeye trees grace another bridge where cascades of water rush downhill in winter and early spring. A series of steep steps curve uphill, reaching a pretty spot with giant rocks and lichen draped trees. Stone steps continue the climb, finally ending as the trail levels off to a more moderate ascent. At the Bischof Steps the trail curves right, under the shadow of a massive boulder, Table Rock. The creek is just a few feet off the trail to the left here, and shows off a pretty cascade. Matt Davis Trail keeps ascending, zigzagging up the side of the mountain through a wide canyon.

Steep Ravine begins a descent along a canyon wall. Fences herd hikers down a string of switchbacks to the canyon floor, where the trail joins a modest stream as it travels toward the sea. While the stream is still small the trail skips over the channel a few times, winding through redwoods like a slalom course. But before long, Webb Creek feeds into the canyon, transforming the stream to a more formidable waterway. Bridges ford the creek, which is lined with huckleberry, California bay, tanoak, and Douglas fir. Some good-sized redwoods loom overhead, and litter the canyon, necessitating a few ducks here and there. Look for trilliums, milkmaids, hound's tongue, and stream violets in spring. Suddenly you'll arrive at the top of the ladder, right beside the drop of a waterfall. I suppose some people descend it face first, but the wood is usually pretty slippery, so take it slow. At the base be sure to pause and look back at the falls.

The initial view after the crest is breathtaking -- the ocean, Stinson Beach, Bolinas Lagoon, and the mountains of Point Reyes sprawl at your feet. Springtime flowers include checkerbloom, wild radish, blue and white lupine, and California poppy. The trail dips into a damp area where you might see or hear quail.


The address is 32 Belvedere Ave, Stinson Beach CA 94970. From the South Bay: Take 280 North, Take Exit 49B on the left onto CA-1 N towards 19th Avenue, Golden Gate Bridge. Merge onto US-101 N. in 6.1 Miles take exit 445B onto CA-1 towards Mill Valley, Stinson Beach. Continue onto Redwood Hwy towards Pohono St. turn Left onto Shoreline Highway. In 11.6 miles turn right at Calle Del Mar. Then Right on Buena Vista Ave. Turn right at the Fire Station (Belvedere Ave.) There’s additional parking further down Buena Vista Ave at the Stop sign by the post office.

Drive Time: San Jose is estimated at 1 Hour 50 Minutes

Sorry No Dogs

Hike start time promptly at 10am

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