Ask any experienced Mt. Tam hiker what their favorite trail is and there's a good chance it'll be Steep Ravine. This trail features most of the attractions that have made Muir Woods famous, minus the crowds, noise, and pavement. Perhaps no hike provides as much natural beauty per mile as this one.
The drive to the trail head is already spectacular, following Highway 1 along coastal cliffs that dive into the ocean. We'll stop for a quick look before hiking into the forest.
The climb up Steep Ravine is sometimes a little slow, but all the better to take in the surrounding Redwood trees, swift-moving creek, moss-covered rock steps, and old bridges. The canopy overhead will keep you from heating up too much.
The reward at the end of Steep Ravine is lunch with a view of the ocean and San Francisco, a sight retained for most of the remaining walk down the legendary Dispea Trail. We reenter redwood forest and pop back out again, finishing our day at the ocean-side town of Stinson Beach.