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Sarah Peterson
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Malone Detro

Fashion designer in SF.

The #1 Bay Area Hike

A 7 mile loop starting from Stinson Beach that many consider the best hike around.

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1. Park @ Stinson Beach

Highway 1

This hike will take you through mini waterfalls, wide open green hillsides, redwoods, and breathtaking views of the ocean. It’s a 3-4 hour, 7 mile hike, with some hills, but I know you can handle it.

If I’m going on the weekend, I always leave SF around 8AM to beat the crowds. Eat a hearty breakfast beforehand, and bring plenty of water and snacks. You can’t go wrong with 2 liters of water / person, but you’ll survive with 1. Bring a light jacket as it can get pretty windy and large parts of the trail are shaded.

Alright, let’s do this! Put 32 Belvedere Ave into your GPS, find parking wherever you can nearby.

Walk up the street from the fire station (on Belvedere Avenue) and look for the Matt Davis Trail (past the Do Not Enter Road sign). The first 2 miles of this entire hike are the hardest, so don’t get discouraged!

Stay left at your first unsigned crossroads, and remain on Matt Davis Trail (you’ll hit Panoramic Highway if you go right). You’ll hit a few more crossroads, but they are signed so just keep on Matt Davis for ~4 miles. This part is mostly shaded beneath towering trees, and you’ll emerge to a stunning ocean view as a reward for your efforts.

When you reach a signed junction (near a parking lot), stay right. You’ll descend, cross Panoramic Highway, and stay right across the Pantoll Parking lot looking for the Steep Ravine trailhead. Pantoll Station is a good spot to refill on water, use the restroom if you need to, and have a snack if you want to take advantage of the picnic tables. Pantoll is roughly your half way point, and where you’ll be looping back to Stinson Beach via Steep Ravine.

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3. Steep Ravine Trail

I love this trail for its mini waterfalls, redwoods, the ladder (you’ll see!), and having to duck under a few tree trunks.

About 2 miles in on the Steep Ravine Trail, you’ll hit an unsigned junction (after you’ve passed a dam). Turn right, walk uphill a bit, and continue straight on the sign that says Dipsea Trail.

[Updated based on Nudger feedback: Make sure to stay straight towards Stinson beach at the junction mentioned above (always a good rule of thumb). You want to keep walking towards the ocean! One Nudger said they turned left at a bridge marked Dipsea Trail and it took them up a giant hill that was beautiful, but the wrong direction and added some distance.]

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4. Dipsea Trail

Old Mill Park

The beloved Dipsea Trail! Shortly after you start on the trail, you’ll come to a junction … keep going straight (always a good rule of thumb). Walk slowly and take in the views of Point Reyes, Stinson Beach, and of course the ocean. You’ll be descending back towards where we started. Note, you’ll cross a Fire Road and just continue on straight.

To finish off the hike, you’ll cross the Panoramic Highway and continue on Dipsea Trail. You’ll come out right on the side of CA 1. Be careful as you walk along the side of the road to Belvedere Ave.

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5. The Siren Canteen

Stinson Beach

Woohoo, congrats! You just did one of the most epic hikes in the Bay Area. I’m proud of you, and it’s time to reward yourself with a Lagunitas beer, grass fed bacon cheeseburger, and sweet potato fries at Siren Canteen. Siren Canteen is a super charming gem at Stinson Beach where you order at the window. I won’t spoil the vibes for you, just make sure to at least check it out before you jump back in your car!

Their hours: 11-5pm on Mon, closed Tue-Thur, 11-7pm on Fri + Sun, 1pm - 7pm Sat.

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The #1 Bay Area Hike

1. Park @ Stinson Beach

3. Steep Ravine Trail

5. The Siren Canteen


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