Jeffrey Stern’s Favorite Trail – The Dipsea

The Dipsea Trail was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 and hosts the infamous footrace from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach every June. This year was the 112th edition and only the Boston Marathon has happened more times in the country, making the Dipsea the original trail race. While the event itself features many sections including the 680 steps in the first mile and treacherous down hill portions named “Suicide” and “The Swoop”, the climb from Muir Woods to Cardiac Hill (the high point on the course) is one of the most challenging and beautiful ascents anywhere on Mt. Tam. One portion in particular is the “Enchanted Forest” where the Dipsea veers into a lush sector of the journey like no other. Verdant moss covers California bay laurel and oak trees, and Redwoods abound in this deeply wooded segment of the Dipsea Trail. Oftentimes the fog seems to drip from the trees, creating an almost dream-like atmosphere hence the name, “Enchanted Forest”. Even during the hottest months of the year the underfooting is often moist or downright muddy. This roughly one mile long section launches you to the base of the final steep pitch to the top of the hill, Cardiac, but is much more runnable than the grind back out into the sun and your eventual 2.5 mile jaunt to the beach finish line. -Jeffrey Stern

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