Mount Tamalpais State Park’s Steep Ravine Trail is a worthy hike by itself, but when you add the western stretch of the Dipsea Trail to make a loop out of the hike, this becomes one of Mount Tam’s most spectacular jaunts. The Steep Ravine Trail follows Webb Creek through a cascading canyon under a canopy of lush redwoods and fern-filled gullies. Pass over a handful of wooden bridges that crisscross the creek, and even scramble up a 10-foot ladder surmounting moss covered boulders. This shaded, verdant oasis feels like Land Before Time territory, and thoughts of urban hustle and bustle float away with the creek’s flow.
On the the Dipsea Trail portion of the loop, hike the trail in a clockwise direction and you’ll emerge on Tam’s open western slopes with views to the ocean as far as the eye can see. Steep Ravine is magical on a rainy day, but choosing a clear fall or winter day will reward you with the stunning scenery from San Francisco north to Stinson Beach. If you line up your hike with a high pressure winter day, you may be lucky enough to catch the Farallon Islands twenty miles out to sea.
While this loop can be initiated from either the Whitegate Ranch Trailhead on Panoramic Highway above Stinson Beach or from Pantoll Station, it’s recommended to start the hike from Whitegate Ranch. The parking here is free (Pantoll requires a $10 day use fee), and beginning here gets the uphill push out of the way early on. Regardless of direction, note that you will have take the Old Mine Trail to connect Steep Ravine Trail to the Dipsea Trail once you reach Pantoll Station. It’s a short connector trail that is well signed and one of the only ADA accessible trails in the park. Pantoll Station has restrooms and drinking water.