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Stinson Beach without traffic: you hike-and-bus.

It's no picnic getting to Marin's Stinson Beach since damage from the October 1989 quake closed the most used access the 5-mile stretch of State Highway 1 from Muir Beach. For at least the next year, Panoramic Highway, along Mount Tamalpais's south side, is the only route from the Bay Area-so of course the highway can be jammed on weekends. An alternative route avoids the traffic and includes a spectacular but easy 4-mile hike. You drive or take a bus to the ranger station at the highway's summit, hike down to Stinson Beach, then hike or ride the bus back. Weekends only, at 8:45 or 10:45 A.M., take Golden Gate Transit bus route 63 toward Stinson Beach at the US. 101 bus turnout in Marin City (a Park & Ride lot is nearby); get off at the Pantoll stop. Buses return from Stinson at 3:10 and 5:10 Pm. Fare is $2 each way. The hike begins at Pantoll Ranger Station (parking $5). Elevation here is 1,500 feet, so you may begin in clouds or fog, but gusty winds can bring clear skies as well. Take Matt Davis Trail (no dogs or bikes); it begins across the highway from the station and zigzags 3.7 miles through open grasslands and wooded ravines, passing under Douglas fir and some redwoods. At about mile 3, you'll reach a good picnic spot Table Rock, a flat outcrop. From here, the panorama extends over the town of Stinson Beach, past the crescent of sand stretching north, to Bolinas Lagoon. The trail continues down, through thick stands of broom (check for ticks here). When the trail ends, head downhill on town streets to State 1. Along the highway are a few cafes, an "almost antique" shop, a bookstore, surfing and beachwear shops, and Ed's Superette-a classic market for picnic supplies. You can hike back to Pantoll on Dipsea and then Steep Ravine trails (the trailhead is near the junction of State I and Panoramic Highway), but allow a good 3 hours for the unrelenting 3-mile climb. Or take bus route 63 back to the ranger station (10 minutes) or Marin City (45 minutes). The bus departs from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area parking lot entrance in Stinson. For details on connecting buses from San Francisco, call (415) 332-6600.
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Title Annotation:California
Date:Dec 1, 1990
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