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7-21: Feeling Lucky? Tennessee Valley to Muir Beach


It's a Circle of Trust & Beer tradition that predates Meetup: Hiking Muir Beach on the luckiest day of the year: 7-21.

This year, the fates have handed us some mixed luck: July 21 falls on a Sunday, which is good. But the geniuses at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area have closed the Muir Beach parking area during the busiest season of the year. That's bad (unless you're a chinook salmon, whose expanded habitat will soon include the former parking lot).

But the Circle of Trust & Beer is all about solutions -- and beer -- so we've come up with this: We're still going to hike the mind-melting gorgeous trails above and behind Muir Beach (which are still open), we're just going to attack 'em from a different direction: Tennessee Valley.

THE STATS

LENGTH: 7.7 miles (round trip)

VERTICAL GAIN: 2,017 feet, broken up into three fairly steep ascents

TYPE OF HIKE: Hike begins and ends on same 1.3-mile fire road, but the rest is a loop, varying between single-track and fire road.

PLANNED STOPS: 15-minute rest stop/stroll among the organic gardens at Green Gulch Zen Center (90 minutes into hike) ... plus a 20-minute lunch stop on bluff overlooking SF in final hour of hike.

TIME ESTIMATE (with stops): 4.5 hours

THE DRIVE

* Exit 101 at Stinson Beach/Highway 1 -- the exit is midway between the Golden Gate and Richmond-San Rafael bridges, Note: If you're coming anywhere in the East Bay, the Richmond-San Rafael option is MUCH quicker than the Bay Bridge-Golden Gate combo.

* Within a quarter-mile of exiting, turn LEFT at Tennessee Valley Road (they just installed a traffic light at the intersection -- it's scheduled to be operational by this weekend).

* Follow Tennessee Valley Road for 1.7 miles, where it ends in a parking area for the Tennessee Valley Trailhead and Miwok Stables. (There's another trailhead and parking area midway down the road, but that's not ours). It's an ample parking lot, but it often overflows on weekends. No worries -- you can park anywhere on Tennessee Valley Road leading into the lot.

We'll meet at the trail gate just to the south of the restrooms.

THE HIKE

Right out of the gate, everybody gets a circulatory wake-up call with a steep 800-foot climb from the Tennessee Valley trailhead up to Coastal Trail, where our loop of Muir Beach begins.

After a tantalizing view of the ocean, we'll head up some gently rolling hills toward the highest point in what are considered the foothills to Mount Tamalpais -- then corkscrew down stunning Middle Gulch Trail, descending on a hidden lake and the world-class organic gardens of the Green Gulch Zen Center.

Having climbed and descended sharp ridges, your legs (and soul - assuming you have one) will welcome the sea-level serenity of Green Gulch, where monks and retreat attendees walk silently among the ponds, gardens, horse pastures and  other amenities that give Green Gulch all of its zen-nishness. It is truly one of my favorite pieces of real estate on the planet.

Linger. Take pictures. Recover.

Because on this hike, our usual motto of "Climb. Descend. Drink." gets twisted to something like this: "Climb. Descend. Glide. Climb. Descend. Drink."

Fortunately, the ass-kicking 400-foot ascent from Muir Beach which follows comes with a postcard view of the beach and the violent coast below. Once we reach the Coastal Trail, we'll glide above the Pacific as the trail falls and rises for more than a mile. Big Sur has nothing on this stretch of the coast, where the waves crash dramatically against rocky outcroppings. The trail then drops as it follows a horseshoe lagoon through a neck-high Eden of flora -- including horsetail, lupine, sticky monkey-finger ... and gobs of poison oak (Go TechNu!).

Then we'll hit our third -- and final -- nasty ascent of the day, using the infamous "Steps" above Pirates Cove to climb back up to the Tennessee Valley access trail. Before descending, however, we'll break for lunch on a magnificent bluff overlooking San Francisco, Ocean Beach and the vast Pacific.

Pack accordingly.

THE BEER

Unfortunately, our original plan to frolic on the lawn of the Pelican Inn -- a right of passage for every Bay Area hiker -- had been undermined by the closure of the Muir Beach parking area. The Pelican Inn now comes at the bottom of our ambirious hike, and experience has taught me that getting your pint on when there is still trail to be climbed is a recipe for disaster.

In the Circle, the work is done before we seek the reward. Which means that our newly intensified hike will conclude at the Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur Landing, right across from the Larkspur Ferry. The beers are prolific, the food is abundant, and we get to bond as a Circle on the heat-lamp intensive patio -- because the folks at the Marin Brewing Company love us,

So, given the reconfigured hike -- who's still in?

 

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  • Tom M

    A well spent Sunday afternoon. Brian- Thank you for your organizing efforts!

    July 28, 2013

  • Rich

    Awesome hike. Beautiful views. Just look at all the pictures people took. Wish it had been a little sunnier, but really worth it.

    July 22, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Had a great time :) nice meeting all these awesome people.

    1 · July 21, 2013

  • Madelene T.

    Sorry I missed you

    July 21, 2013

  • Joanna S.

    Sadly, I've come down with a nasty cold and won't be able to make it after all. :( Hoping to make it to the next one!

    July 20, 2013

  • Sherry

    Hoping some spots open up...still on the waiting list..

    July 19, 2013

    • Eric

      I will RSVP no ... to the highest bidder! :)

      July 19, 2013

    • Brian Patrick H.

      You're in luck, Sherry -- thanks for hanging in there.

      July 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Darnit, something came up.

    July 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Too lucky! :) Condolences to whoever is suffering with the throbbing toe.

    July 19, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    sorry to wus out at the last moment :(

    July 19, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Can't make it unfortunately, but how about a South Bay hike soon?

    July 19, 2013

  • Kurt W

    There is a chance I won't be able to make it, so I will reluctantly relinquish my spot to someone on the waiting list.

    July 18, 2013

  • Julie L.

    Regrets, but have opened a spot for a fellow hiker.

    July 18, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    So, is the end of the hike near where we are parking? Or how are we getting back if not?

    July 17, 2013

    • Brian Patrick H.

      All of our hikes circle back to our cars. We don't shuttle. We drink beer.

      July 18, 2013

  • Brian Patrick H.

    Big changes on this hike from the one that was originally posted -- here's hoping you're still feeling lucky! If not, please change your RSVP!

    July 17, 2013

    • Rich

      Still in; me +1

      July 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Yes! Go Bucks! I'll see you for the Sept 14th game if not before. My reference to Brian Gregg and also to James is in reageds to them wanting a ride with me from Walnut Creek BART. Gentlemen, please make other arrangements. I will gladly drive for future events. Have a great time, y'all!

    July 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry! Tougher hike than what I feel I can do with my knee. James and Brian Gregg, I am sorry to change my plans but must. Can anyone help with rides?

    July 17, 2013

  • Jen

    Sorry Brian, you can't get rid of me that easily.
    ;)

    1 · July 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Still in.

    1 · July 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I still plan to go

    1 · July 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    My ankle is still feeling a little weak so I've decided to pass on this hike. Hope I can make the next one!

    July 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Muir Beach and the parking lot closed July 8th for renovation. I was there thursday and had to take my bonfire plans elsewhere. The pellican can vallet cars. If u buy a drink, first two hours of parking are free. $10 each additional hour there after. Trail to beach is still open to public but lot is totally fenced off.

    July 16, 2013

    • Brian Patrick H.

      'Tis True, Amaranta -- we're about to unleash the alternative plan. Stay turned.

      1 · July 16, 2013

  • Jen

    Bummer gotta cancel, super behind at work. :(

    July 16, 2013

  • Dan

    Hum, I forget to add my plus one. Hope that won't be an issue?

    July 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    have to pass on this - I'm moving and need to pack boxes :(

    July 15, 2013

  • Sherry

    Yeah! Good ocean air.

    July 12, 2013

  • Sherry

    Looking forward to the coastal trails!

    July 12, 2013

  • Kitty A.

    Ooh! I really hope I get to come!

    July 9, 2013

  • Amy

    Hi everyone, Anyone going from SF? I won't have my car yet bc I'm moving to CA the weekend before the hike. I'll be in Noe Valley.

    July 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Lets do this!

    June 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This hike will be great, and I love the Pelican Inn! But, my daughter comes back from camp that afternoon and I'd be cutting it rather close.....

    June 29, 2013

  • Kathy W.

    Sounds great, but I'll be car-camping in the Sierras that weekend. Love the Pelican Inn! Great pick, hope to hike with everyone here soon.

    June 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    @ James: WC Bart is perfect. Would you please resend your phone number. The MeetUp email message is not loading correctly and now not able to see your digits. Thanks!

    June 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Love this hike! I'm coming from Walnut Creek if anyone wants to hop in my buggy. Looking forward to advancing my badge from "One Hike Wonder." I had a slight delay because of work. See ya soon!

    June 29, 2013

  • Rich

    Sounds beautiful. Looking forward to it.

    June 29, 2013

28 went

  • Brian Patrick H.
    116-HIKE VETERAN/39 Semi-Circles, Organizer,
    Event Host
  • Jen
    24-HIKE VETERAN/5 Semi-Circles (Top 100 PBR)-2016: 1/1
  • Molly
    10-HIKE VETERAN/1 Semi-Circle (PBR: 56)
  • Debbie
    26-HIKE VETERAN/7 Semi-Circles (TOP 100 PBR)
  • Laura A.
    16-HIKE VETERAN/5 Semi-Circles (AUGUST PBR: 37)
  • Kim C.
    THREE-PEATER (1 Semi-Circle)
  • Trina
    THREE-PEATER (1 Semi-Circle)
  • Eric
    13-HIKE VETERAN/3 Semi-Circles (PBR: 42)
  • Dan
    ONE-HIKE WONDER
  • Merle
    25-HIKE VETERAN/9 Semi-Circles
  • Tom M
    25-HIKE VETERAN/15 Semi-Circles
  • Tim N.
    14-HIKE VETERAN/3 Semi-Circles (TOP 100 PBR)
  • Harshal
    19-HIKE VETERAN/4 Semi-Circles (TOP 100 PBR)
  • Rich +1
    12-HIKE VETERAN/3 Semi-Circles (PBR: 45)
  • Sam
    FOUR-RUNNER (2 Semi-Circles)
  • Michelle
    ONE-HIKE WONDER
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member

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