Matt Davis Trail

Matt Davis Trail

Intersecting Bootjack trail perpendicularly at Bootjack campground, Matt Davis Trail is one of the more popular trails on the mountain. There is good reason for this as Matt Davis extends transversely athwart the southeastern to southwestern flanks and is exposed to abundant sun as well as being privy to spectacular coastal vistas. In the spring this trail is also privileged to host a wide variety of wildflowers that spread across the open fields along its trail sides.

There is a picnic area at Bootjack that was always a particular favorite of mine. When I would alight from the bus at the parking lot I would head immediately for my preferred picnic table. This table sat at the edge of a large rock formation the looked out over the southeastern flank of the mountain, affording bayside views south to the Marin County bay front communities of Sausalito and Tiburon as well as partial views of the eastern portion of San Francisco including the Bay Bridge.

Directly east, Mount Diablo looms above the East Bay eclipsing even the hills of the Coastal Range that line the terrain just back of the bayside cities of Oakland and Berkeley. When the weather is clear one can fairly reach out and touch the distant mountain; it is that distinct in its clarity. Unfortunately, as often as not, the collective urbanization of the area puts out such a preponderance of pollutants that the mountain appears enveloped in a brownish haze.

Far below, Angel Island rests serenely in the bay, sometimes crowned with wisps of residual fog. Seemingly tiny sailboats skitter about on the surface of the water taking advantage of the strong drafts coming off the fogbound mouth of the bay. Alcatraz Island lies between the city and Angel Island boasting its own halo of morning mist; this of course, only when the heat of the day is of sufficient intensity to burn off the tenacious fog.

When instead, the fog is triumphant in the tug-of-war between solar luminosity and the coolness of the deep marine layer, the billowing brume inundates the bay with pleasing pillows of pertinacious pall that obscure any and all obstacles to its predominance. It is in this way that poets and painters alike have paid tribute to the charms of fog in words and images throughout history.

Again, I digress; the fog, in all its beguiling manifestations, has a way of distracting ones attention from the task at hand. Matt Davis Trail begins as an offshoot of the Hogback Fire Road over near the Mountain Home restaurant and inn. Mountain Home is an inviting establishment that rests on a ridge that carries the Panoramic Highway up from Tam Junction, Highway One and the bay. Situated as it is, Mountain Home affords brilliant vistas of the valley that encircles Muir Woods to the west and Mill Valley to the east. These can be observed from a most convenient deck perched above the western slope.

From Hogback Matt Davis runs through hot, dry, rocky, brush-filled terrain until it emerges at West Point an old lodge established over a century ago on a slope of East Peak, Mount Tamalpais. This is a charming little outpost built to accommodate hiking enthusiasts and other related organizations. It affords expansive views of the southern flank of the mountain as well as vistas encompassing the city out to the western shore of Ocean Beach and beyond.

On the occasion of its one hundredth anniversary, they held a party up there complete with a barbeque and a brass band playing turn of the century arrangements of the classics as well as period music from the early 20th century. Good fun was had by all, particularly since there was no advertisement of the event and most of the attendees only happened on the festivities by chance.

From the lodge, the trail converts to a fire road and wends its way along the slopes until it passes through Bootjack. Continuing on from Bootjack, the course reverts to simple trail status, looping along the ridges until it arrives at Pantoll, site of the State Park Headquarters. Here there is a transitory campground for temporary use only by campers on there way to points afield. There is also a confluence of trails connecting the headquarters with various points of interest.

Matt Davis, for its part, continues on through lovely black oak groves where the sunlight dapples through the leaves and intersperses liberally with the shadows of the willowy branches of the trees creating a delightful effect that decorates the wood. The trail emerges from this onto an exposed area of grass (and wildflowers in spring) that overlooks the rugged coastline and concomitant woodlands.

After traversing this wide expanse the trail re-enters the wood and proceeds to descend to Stinson Beach. This portion of the trail incorporates some switchbacks the better to accommodate the steep decline. There are also sections that require clambering down over large gnarled tree roots the better to facilitate the rapid descent. Eventually, the trail comes down to intersect with a roadway and a couple of other trails that complete the descent to the beach.

Alternatively, it is possible to complete this descent through the town. One course leads out to a neighborhood above the beach and by following ones instincts as well as a little of following ones nose you can make it down to the beach without any trespass. By turning back and looking upward one is able to view the hillside just descended and appreciate the effort expended.

© Stephen Alexander 2008

Matt Davis Trail

stephen hewitt

Lanexa, United States

  • Artist
    Notes

Artist's Description

A continuation of my Mt Tam series

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