Mt. Tamalpais

28 Aug 1999 - by George Sinclair

There were seven of us on this hike. We started from Muir Woods at 9:00am in fog. Our first goal was Pantoll, which was reached by way of the Bootjack and TCC trails. We climbed through the fog just below Van Wyck Meadows. From Pantoll we took the Old Mine Trail up to Rock Spring. The typical good views that are enjoyed from the upper section of Old Mine Trail were obscured by a blanket of fog which covered most of the land below us. Above the fog it was quite warm, and there was an unusual lack of any winds.

From Rock Spring we followed the Cataract Trail down to Laurel Dell, where we had lunch at the picnic area there. After lunch we continued down the Cataract Trail, which drops very steeply beyond Laurel Dell. Near where the Helen Markt Trail intersects the Cataract Trail there is a beautiful little waterfall that drops into a fairly large pool.

After following the Helen Markt Trail down to where it meets the shoreline of Alpine Lake, we turned onto the Kent Trail. In a heavily forested area we inadvertently left the Kent Trail and mistakenly followed the Stocking Trail to where it meets the Rocky Ridge Fire Trail. We then followed the fire trail up to Rifle Camp. This was a difficult stretch for many of us. We were climbing back up the mountain during the warmest part of the day with little shade. By the time we reached Rifle Camp, several of us were running low on water and, unfortunately there isn't anywhere to get water on the north side of Mt. Tamalpais.

With thoughts of visiting the snack bar near East Peak, we started up the final climb of the day. We followed the International Trail up to the Lakeview Trail and then worked our way up to the summit parking lot. It had been a hot and windless day. The cold drinks and ice cream purchased at the snack bar were very refreshing.

It was now getting late in the afternoon, and none of us were enthusiastic enough to walk up to the summit - we had all been there before. Instead we headed down the Old Railroad Grade to West Point. We stopped at the Inn for a short break and some lemonade, which was for sale there.

The final part of the hike involved a direct descent down to Muir Woods by way of the seldom used and unmarked West Point Trail. Barry Spitz describes this trail in his Tamalpais Trails book as marginal. Some people on the hike questioned if it was a trail at all. The steep West Point Trail ends at Panoramic Hwy. On the other side of the road we picked up the Sierra Trail (named for the Sierra Club) which we followed down into Muir Woods. We finally reached the cars about 6:30pm

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