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Stinson Beach to Mount Tamalpais via Matt Davis Trail

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Mount Tamalpais State Park

Stinson Beach to Mount Tamalpais via Matt Davis Trail is a 17 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Stinson Beach, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 17.0 miles Elevation Gain: 3,717 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

beach

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

UPDATE (May 1, 2020): This park is temporarily closed to vehicular access, meaning there are no parking facilities and parking on roadways is prohibited to protect public health from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this park is open to local residents, they must abide by the following guidelines: Stay Local: Walk or bike into the park. Do not drive to the park. Stay Active: Keep walking, jogging, hiking and biking. Watch for one-way trails. Stay Safer at 6 Feet: Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Gatherings, picnics and parties are not allowed. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people at the park or on trails to allow for the required physical distance. Stay Clean: Be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash. Statewide, many parks and beaches are temporarily closed or have very limited access to ensure Californians are abiding and practicing physical distancing. The goals are to make sure people are safe and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. To view the list of closures and what they mean to the public, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

hiking
2 months ago

Did the trail 3/1/20 and because there has been little rain, trail conditions were great. We began at Dipsea and went up Steep Ravine which is, as always, lovely. The trek up to the East Peak is fairly easy and hardly seems like you are going up, until the rocky scramble to the top. A great hike - we made it to the top in 3 hours and back down in about the same. Sadly the weather was a little cool and cloudy but still stellar views and wildflowers are starting now. My fitbit shows this as 16 miles... but they vary it seems.

The best hike in the Bay Area in my opinion. So many different ways you can approach East peak from Stinson, this is a “figure eight” that gives you the most diversity of trails. Get to Stinson before 8am to beat traffic.

hiking
muddy
5 months ago

Hiked this route on 12/28. We scored excellent weather and magnificent views. Thanks to recent rains, the creeks had a lot of water too. It took us 11 hours, including a 30 minute breakfast at Pantoll and a one hour lunch at the summit. This is a technically easy but streneous hike. It took a lot longer than I had expected. My fitbit showed 19 miles total. We did it counter-clockwise, starting with the Steep Ravine Trail and coming down Matt Davis Trail. Either direction would be great I think. The price on this hike are the views towards the top of the mountain.

hiking
6 months ago

Awesome hike, took us a little longer, took some detours to see other sites along the way which made it a 20mile roundtrip hike, but worth the beautiful landscape.

It was a beautiful hike. I am totally dead after doing it! The views were spectacular, and there were a couple places to refresh with a mini river dip. We made the “mistake” of leaving at 9am on a hot day. We went the opposite way of what AllTrails said, and the hardest part (1200 ft incline in 1.7 miles or so) was during the hottest part of the day. But, the silver lining is I did it the hardest way. Any other day or time should be a piece of cake. The only issue I have is with AllTrails. I followed the exact trail, and the hike ended up being 2.1 miles longer than advertised. Definitely not upset about the length, just wish I knew exactly what I was in for.

hiking
8 months ago

Really an awesome hike for being so close to the city. Some steep sections and lots of diversity in terrain. We refilled water at a campground and at Westpoint Inn. The peak was crowded, there’s a road that folks can drive to an area just short of the peak. But overall a great day, lots of options to loop back on a different trail to the beach, as the trails tend to crisscross all through the state park.

hiking
8 months ago

Easily one of my favorite year-round hikes. It’s so gorgeous, has a moderate amount of elevation gain and still pretty pleasant in the summer. Definitely take the steep ravine trail back down if you take matt davis up, not just to mix it up a bit but because it’s absolutely worth it.

Really nice views! Plenty of water along the way.

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful hike, but ours came in at 17.3 miles. We deviated from the AllTrails map above the Pantoll station but not enough to account for the mileage difference. Fern trail is very steep and rocky - those who call this trail easy/moderate probably went up A different way (which is not a bad idea!). But definitely doable for those in reasonably good shape. I disagree with another viewer’s advice to do this counter clockwise. The Matt Davis Trail is beautiful to climb up but I think descending it would be harder then the Dipsea Trail which has stairs at the steep parts. There are restrooms at the Pantoll Station as well as the West Point Inn. Take plenty of water and sunscreen! It was foggy and pleasant for the first 3 miles, then sunny and hot much of the way to the top and part of the way down. I drank 3 liters of water and was thirsty when we got back to the car!

hiking
10 months ago

A great trip but the mileage seems wayyyy off. I shaved of part of the loop around to Hogback and ended up returning via Steel Ravine from Pantoll (same way I approached) and per my Apple Watch mileage EVEN WITH the cutouts was 16. 16!!! Would have been around 18 if I’d kept to the original routing and I was totally beat by the time I got to my car. Still an amazing trip, and I highly recommend going all the way to the fire lookout.

hiking
10 months ago

We started out on the Dipsea Trail, which was cool with a lovely view of the beach. The Steep Ravine trail is one of the most beautiful redwood trails I've seen. When we got to the Pantoll campground we veered off onto the Old Stage Road, bidding goodbye to the runners as they headed off in a different direction. This road was well-maintained and took us the rest of the way past the lovely West Point Inn to the summit. I'm sure it would have been equally as enjoyable as the Steep Ravine Trail, except the fog never lifted, so the road part of our hike was not nearly as scenic as the first part. We couldn't convince the fog to lift—even at the top—but the summit has its own beauty, with the final rocky ascent and the fire lookout at the tip-top. There were bathrooms, and fountains to refill our water if we needed. We stopped and had lunch looking out over the trees and the fog, then took the same route (sans runners) back to the beginning. Late lunch at the Breakers Cafe was the perfect end to our day!

hiking
10 months ago

Such a fantastic trail running loop! This is easy my favorite trail, and although its an hour drive each way i do it often I generally enjoy taking Steep Ravine to Pan Toll, then just cruising the fire road to East Ridge, but as the great nature of Mt Tam there are so many alternative trails, and taking Matt Davis offers fantastic views of the sea! If you are feeling up to the challenge, consider Willow Camp as it just keeps climbing until you feel like you want to die

hiking
11 months ago

Absolutely my favorite hike ever! Definitely not easy but worth it. A few places to stop for water so carrying too much water is not necessary.

hiking
11 months ago

We hiked this 6/8/19. Amazing views. Probably the best summer trail in the bay area. This trail is rated as hard, however it should be rated as moderate. There is only one brutal incline/decline. We will definetly be back!!!

hiking
Sat May 25 2019

I hiked this 5/25. I did a variation of this hike taking Matt Davis to Hoo Koo E Koo to Vic Haun to Temelpa to Verna Dunshee going up. Going down took Rail Road Grade to Nora to Matt Davis to Steep Ravine to Dipsea to Stinson Beach. There were better views going up and I prefer easier grade trails going down but my total miles came in at 16.5 with similar elevation. Nice hike difficult for me d/t miles and elevation gain but would do again.

hiking
Sun Apr 14 2019

Don't get fooled by the difficulty rating of this trail. It is a very easy trail that offers little to no exciting challenge. It is highly trafficked so make sure to come early if you don't want to be stuck behind groups of people who have little to no hiking experience. I have no idea why this trail is rated as hard if you don't take the distance into consideration. It took us about 7h to complete the whole trail, including a longer lunch break. The trail offers some very nice views but the top is accessible by car so expect crowds who just drive up, snap some pics and turn back home.

hiking
Mon Feb 18 2019

Great trail, fairly well maintained and the park rangers are very helpful. Definitely more like 16 miles. I recommend going counterclockwise and saving the Matt Davis portion for the last bit. Taking a break at West Point provides some lovely views and the restrooms came in clutch. Lots of incline on the way to the peak, naturally, so be ready for that. After the rain I was surprised to see how well the trail drained but there were still parts that were quite wet. The restrooms at the peak are currently out of service. For your planning purposes.

hiking
Sat Jan 19 2019

More like 16 miles. The last two miles are very steep. Lots of good and diverse views

Mon Jan 07 2019

Started early for this hike: on road by 6 on the trail by 730. Easy parking early ona. Cold winter's day but easy to imagine the town fills up fast under different circumstances. I took the Matt Davis trail up to the inn and then the old fire road to the fern trail. Nothing too challenging I may try to attack it from the willow camp trail next time since it's more challenging. Beautiful views, lots of clearly marked trails, hard to get lost.

hiking
Sun Oct 28 2018

We did this on october 27. The views are absolutely briliant. Very hard towards the peak. Steep and a lot of stairs. The beauty of all of the hike is breathtaking. Took us 8 hours. :) we went up the fern trail and oh boy was it hard. Like super hard.

hiking
Mon Oct 22 2018

A nice trail going thru different temparature zones and resulting ecosystem. if its the rainforest like feel in the deep ravine trail, its the virtual hard rubble brush in the upper fern creek trail. Would rate it as an easy to moderate depending upon the hiking level. we are an east bay based hiking group and have trained on the mt. diablo for longer hikes. comparitively this is mellow and not much challenges . the only difference was the length which makes it seem tougher. The climd upto panatoll staging area is very scenic and lively. beyond depending upon the path you take - old grade road or matt davis trail to upper fern creek - it can be easy or tough. we took the fire road and it turned out to be an easy hike, except for the sun which was out hot and bright,. the view from the top is amazing and worth the hike. on the way back took the rock scamble behind the lookout and then the fern creek trail. it was a good downward trail, well maintained. the trail from panatoll to the beach thru matt davis travis is mostly smooth except for the switchbacks which caused the max strain. overall a good long hike.

Sun Jul 08 2018

Much harder than I expected but one of my favorite hikes ive ever done. My knees and ankles are super sore but it was worth the pain

hiking
Tue May 08 2018

Very easy to follow trail. Beautiful views!

hiking
Sun Feb 25 2018

Awesome Hike! https://www.relive.cc/view/1426335029

Fri Feb 09 2018

This is a great hike but it’s long and uphill for the first 7.5 miles. If you have experience hiking 8-10 mile mountain hikes, then go for it. Plan your route so you are on Fern Creek Trail coming down from the summit - it’s steep and the most difficult part of the hike. The entire loop is very scenic from start to finish.

hiking
Mon Sep 04 2017

Long but moderately hard hike. prepare to take as long as you need to finish.

hiking
Sat Aug 05 2017

Very long, challenging hike. Steep Ravine is the one of the prettiest trails I have seen. There is a big parking lot in Stinson Beach that parking was easy. We got there around 8:30 on Saturday. The fog was so thick in the morning we decided to start Dipsea-Steep Ravine instead of Matt Davis - it was still foggy at the peak we couldn't see SF and GGBridge. We were amazed how many bridges we crossed on the trail that we thought we should have counted them. Even though it was foggy in lower elevation it was sunny and hot after Pan Toll. Fern Creek Trail from the peak was so steep and exposed we were glad it was downhill instead of up. The peak was crowded but the view was amazing. It took us all day to finish but we have done it - the sea to the peak hike that I wanted to do and the experience was very satisfying.

hiking
Fri Jul 21 2017

I like this trail, but honestly the lower part without the summit is the highlight for me. After Pantoll there are some great views, but in the summer the fire road part is exposed and HOT. We had a tough time because of the heat. We did start by 830am or so, and it was lucky, because the heat slowed us down significantly and we didn't finish til early evening. Do it in cooler weather, and/or start early. Also the signage after and around Pantoll can be kind of confusing, so we took some wrong turns. Still found the summit just fine, in about the same mileage.

hiking
Sun Jun 11 2017

This hike offers some of the most amazing environment changes. One minute you're in a forest, the next you're in a field full of wildflowers. The signs posted can get a little confusing, so I'd definitely recommend snapping a pic of the trail map or visiting the State Park office to get one of their printed copies (there's one located at the beginning of the Steep Ravine trail). Be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and sturdy shoes!

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