I don't often get the chance to run in coastal mountain areas, and to be able to run up and down the hills while remaining directly next to the ocean shore is a real treat for me.
The views both to the south and the north along the coast were fantastic as the sun dropped lower in the sky, and as I made my way up the trail I was constantly drinking in the beauty of the surroundings.
I came to my turnaround point a few miles up the trail at a small, peaceful lake which was perfectly calm and reflective.
On my way back down the trail, I stopped several times to watch the sun drop over the ocean and to take pictures of the scene this was creating.
I had taken the run very slowly and could tell that my body was tired from the race that morning, but that I was recovering well and that the following day I should be able to put in some decent miles on the trails that I still wanted to explore. The next morning I was awake as soon as it was light and on my way to Muir Woods National Monument. I had to park alongside the road since the park had not yet been opened, and as I made my way along the boardwalk through Muir Woods, I was thankful to be the only person around. I'm sure that the experience would have been diminished if I had been forced to share it with thousands of tourists clogging the boardwalk.
Attempting to capture the beauty and scale of the old growth redwood stands inside Muir Woods without some decent camera gear was difficult to say the least. I had never seen old growth redwoods and the sight that they provided was truly remarkable. Even though having the designation of National Monument causes this place to become a tourist trap, I am glad that these unique stands of trees have been preserved in the manner that they have so that they can continue to inspire and be enjoyed by many people.
After leaving Muir Woods I climbed up the valley on the constantly branching and converging trail system to the Pantoll ranger station, along the way continually enjoying the cool lush foliage around me, and the continuing stands of impressive trees.
From Pantoll, I began traversing then descending the Matt Davis trail toward Stinson Beach far below. The views along the trail opened up as I dropped down the mountainside, and I enjoyed the sight of the green mountainside in front of me slowly falling away to meet the shore of the ocean below.
Once in the town of Stinson Beach, I made my way onto the beach and spent a little time just watching the peaceful morning unfold up and down the long crescent shaped beach.
As I ran the Dipsea trail from Stinson Beach to Muir Woods, I considered and attempted to envision running the historic race that takes place along this trail every year in the opposite direction, from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, and took note of some tricky sections of the trail. It certainly seems as though running down all of the flights of stairs toward Stinson Beach would make the run very tricky, and good skills at descending stairs would be needed in order to do well in the race. Before reaching Cardiac, I stopped briefly to admire the views to the south across the Marin Headlands and down to the San Francisco peninsula, with Sutro Tower visible beyond the city.
This iconic view embodies so much of what I've come to enjoy about running trails in this area of the world. As I descended the last of the trail to Muir Woods and crossed Redwood Creek, I was disappointed that my short visit was coming to an end, but at some point I'll take an extended visit to the area to explore many more of the beautiful and distinct trails that this region offers.