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Marin's very civilized walking.

Come for the day or sleep in an inn on the route. It's the kind of walking you find in the Cotswolds or Tirolean Alps, but only in the Bay Area can you hit national park trails in an urban center of 6 million people.

Leave San Francisco behind and hike over the coastal hills of Golden Gate National Recreation Area and up the wooded slopes of Mount Tamalpais State Park in Marin County. You can do several overnight treks by using a handful of inns within 5-1/2 to 7 miles of one other, or sample the route with day-hikes and inn lunches.

Start in San Francisco and walk the whole 51-1/2-mile route, or hike partway and return by bus.

A full circuit requires planning; some inns may still have weekend openings now, or try less busy week-nights. October brings the year's sunniest, least windy days, but an open headlands you get no shade and a view of brown hills. November hikers risk a rainout, but with at least three days' notice you can generally cancel lodging reservations.

The map on page 18 shows inns and trail distances. Customize your route according to your time, stamina, and lodging availability.

OVER THE GATE AND

ONTO THE TRAIL

To hike from San Francisco, park and start at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) headquarters in Fort Mason (Bay and Franklin streets). Pick up a free map here. Olmsted's Rambler's Guide to Trails of Mount Tamalpais and Marin Headlands ($5.95) is available at many bookstores.

On weekends, hikers crowd the Coastal Trail to Muir Beach and trails in Muir Woods. Dogs aren't allowed on Mount Tamalpais State Park trails; in GGNRA, dogs must be on leash on some trails, under voice command on others.

Views start off with a bang--from Fort Mason along the level Golden Gate Promenade and across the Golden Gate Bridge. On the Marin side, follow the path west underneath the bridge. Here, part of the Coastal Trail is temporarily closed for restoration; detour (following signs) carefully along Conzelman and McCullough roads a mile to pick up the Coastal Trail down to the Golden Gate Youth Hostel at Rodeo Lagoon--10 miles from Fort Mason. Stay in the hostel or continue.

Leg two from Rodeo Lagoon offers sweeping views of ocean and city but is tougher--up and down ridges before dropping to Muir Beach (about 7 miles). The quaint Pelican Inn is popular for English country fare (bangers and mash, cottage pie) at lunch and dinner. Overnight here or at Lindisfarne Guest House 1/2 mile east.

The next leg climbs into the redwoods. Follow Redwood Creek, Deer Park, Dipsea, Sun, and Redwood trails uphill 6 miles to Mountain Home Inn. From there, it's downhill 5 1/2 miles to Steep Ravine Cabins. Follow Troop 80, Alpine, and Steep Ravine trails into redwoods and over ridges with coastal views to the cabins.

From Steep Ravine Trail inland, head back uphill on the Dipsea Trail, through a forest of ferns, bay trees, and redwoods to the Coastal Trail (check your map carefully; we found some junctions unsigned). It's a total of 6 miles back to the inns at Muir Beach, then you can back-track to San Francisco.

Day-trip options. Park at Rodeo Lagoon and take the Coastal Trail 7 miles to Pelican Inn for lunch. Or park at Muir Beach, hike into Muir Woods on Ocean View and Panoramic trails to Mountain Home Inn for lunch, then back by Redwood Trail to the Tourist Club for sodas and on to Muir by trails on our map (12 miles).

WHERE THE INNS ARE

Unless noted, telephone area code is 415.

Golden Gate Youth Hostel ($8). Reserve at least three weeks ahead by mail: Building 941, Fort Barry, Sausalito 94965. In old army quarters at Rodeo Lagoon; has kitchen, den, family rooms, bunks, showers. Bring food, towel, sleep sheet (or buy a sheet here--50 cents); blankets and pillows provided.

Lindisfarne Guest House ($35 to $80); 383-3134. Twelve rooms (shared baths) in Japanese-style house at Zen center. Vegetarian meals ($5) available to guests.

Mountain Home Inn ($121 to $178 per room, breakfast included); 381-9000. Ten cozy rooms with views, some fireplaces; lunches, dinners daily except Mondays.

Pelican Inn ($125 to $145); 383-6000. Charming English-style inn with seven rooms, paneled bar; lunch and dinner served daily except Mondays. touch to book.

Steep Ravine Cabins ($30); (800) 444-7275. Ten rustic 1930s cabins each sleep up to 5, have woodburning stove, picnic table, bunks, water (no showers or electricity). Bring food, bedding. To reserve, call at 8 A.M. 10 days to 8 weeks ahead.

Tourist Club (weekend day use only) by Muir Woods has deck, sells cold soft drinks.

PACKING; PARK OR RIDE

Dress in layers and carry water, a change of clothing, toiletries (including sun screen), water (map on page 18 shows fountains).

To travel light (without food and bedding), make the trip in a night or two by hiking the first two segments in one tough, 17-mile day to either Muir Beach inn. the next day, you have a short but steep 6 miles to Mountain Home Inn. From here on weekends, you can catch a Golden Gate Transit bus (see below) back to the city.

Parking. Day-users may park in lots at Fort Mason, Muir Beach, Pan Toll, or across the street from Mountain Home Inn. There's overnight parking at the Rodeo Lagoon hostel (no permit needed), and guest parking at the upper Fort Mason Youth Hostel ($12 nightly; reserve by writing to Building 240, Fort Mason, San Francisco 94123; parking limit three nights). To leave a car shuttle at the hike's northern terminus, there's room for some cars on the highway outside Steep Ravine gate (but some break-ins here).

Hike out, ride back. Taxis serve both Mountain Home and Pelican Inn. A Bel Air Cab (383-8484) took us from Pelican Inn to our car at Steep Ravine--$16 (establish fare ahead). Golden Gate Transit offers weekend service from Stinson Beach via Pan Toll station and Mountain Home Inn to the Golden Gate toll plaza ($1.50). From there, walk or take Muni bus 28 to Fort Mason (85 cents--exact fare). For schedules, call 453-2100 or 673-6864.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Marin County, California
Publication:Sunset
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Words:1037
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