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Some people will fly across the globe to find good hiking, said Gregory Dicum in The New York Times. But California’s Marin County has trails that are second to none. Just north of San Francisco, Marin is primarily known as a “wealthy bedroom community.” But its 520 square miles of mostly protected open space—filled with meadows, rivers, mountains, redwood forests, and lodges—offer “something for anyone spry enough to walk a mile or two, on any budget.” One Friday afternoon, my wife and I rode a bus filled with commuters across the Golden Gate Bridge. Our plan was to spend the next three days on an ambitious ramble.
At the crossroads town of Olema, we spent the night at the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge, and the next morning set off. Already we felt a world away, and “we headed out into a dazzling fog.” Ghostly white deer looked down on us as we climbed the Bolinas Ridge. Finally, we reached Tomales Bay, where the San Andreas Fault runs into the sea. “All about us was mad morning chirping and grass bejeweled in the sun.” Our first view of the Pacific came in the afternoon, as hawks, vultures, and paragliders romped overhead. That night we stayed in still hippie-ish Redwood Haus “and slept like logs, the surf sighing through our open window.” The next morning, we headed into the fog-shrouded Dipsea Trail, ascending past gnarled trees as quails and rabbits scampered away. We ran into a crowd of hikers and bikers on the peak of “beloved” Mount Tamalpais, but soon continued on our solitary way. Afternoon brought us to the Mountain Home Inn—and lunch. “Anything tastes good after a few miles on the trail.”
At times, our homeward journey was “as steep as a ski slope.” Passing through Muir Woods, gigantic redwoods dwarfed us, and evening fog enclosed us as we walked along a riverbank. At last we reached the Pelican Inn and “walked right into a cheerful scene”—a pub with a roaring fire. Kicking off our boots, we ordered a couple of pints and toasted the day’s hike. The next morning, we were back in San Francisco.
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