I declare Steep Ravine the rockstar of mossy trails. I reveled in the abundance of mossy trees, mossy rocks, lichens and ferns. You get the idea. The science fiction fans in my household dubbed it Middle Earth for any Tolkien fans reading this.
These first three moss plant photos were taken on Mother’s Day in early May. It was a super foggy day which enhanced the green color of the mosses.
This trail is more strenuous than others I’ve reviewed in Marin, such as Cascade Falls and Cataract Falls, though not as strenuous as the name Steep Ravine Trail might make you think.
In addition to the plentiful mosses and ferns, the other highlight of the trail is the wooden ladder about 1.5 miles downhill! I’m so geeky — gushing about a ladder on a trail! It adds adventure and magic to the trail and made me feel like a kid.
I also appreciate how the trail builders took the trail via ladder right up along the waterfall. Some less imaginative trail builder might have placed the trail so it went around rocky outcropping and bypassed the waterfall.
Maps: It’ll make your trail days so much happier if you pick up a paper map at Pantoll Station in Marin CA. Pantoll Station can be found on GPS.
Moderate Hike: If you haven’t hiked in while, I suggest going the 1.5 miles down the trail to the ladder. Climb down the ladder, look around, and then hike the 1.5 miles back. There are places you can sit, if you wish to take breaks on the way back. Lots of people jog or move fast on trails, but this is a trail that bears slowing down and pondering.
Challenging Hike: If a seven mile hike with some uphill climbing suits you, I recommend three options:
1) Down Steep Ravine Trail from Pantoll Station to where the trail meets the Dipsea Trail, and return back up Steep Ravine. (Approximately five miles and strenuous, as the trip is 50% uphill.)
2) Down Steep Ravine Trail and follow the Dipsea Trail to Stinson Beach. At Stinson Beach, locate the Matt Davis Trail behind the fire station at the end of the short block. Follow Matt Davis back uphill to Pantoll Station. Matt Davis will take you back to where you started. (Approximately seven-eight miles and strenuous.)
3) Reverse the hike above. Start at Stinson Beach and go up the Matt Davis Trail located at the end of the side street past the Fire Station. Come down Steep Ravine. (Approximately seven miles and strenuous, but on this route the second half of the trip is downhill.)
Dogs: Not allowed in the Mount Tamalpais State Park, but dogs are allowed in the Mount Tamalpais Water District. Hikes at Cataract Falls and Cascade Falls both allow dogs.
Crowds and Parking: Weekends, especially summer weekends, are busy. Go as early in the day as you possibly can; before 9am is really great. If you arrive after 11 am you may have a very hard time parking. There is some parking along the side of the roads, which is okay if you don’t mind walking with cars passing by.
I’m Karen Nierlich. I take forest pictures with a focus on moss plants and ferns. Please follow me on instagram.com/iheartmoss or facebook.com/iheartmoss. We also have a nature-inspired jewelry shop especially for nature lovers. For example, a gorgeous twig necklace is a great conversation starter.