Every week I get dozens of messages from readers who are out doing extremely adventurous things. Just the other day, I heard from someone who is about to camp 40 miles out in Alaska’s deepest backcountry among the grizzlies and eagles, at a lake so remote, it isn’t on any map. I hear from people who are in the middle of hiking national scenic trails, running some truly frightening endurance races and doing other crazy things. But every once in a while, it’s good to know about “slackpacking” options that give you access to views and libations with no effort at all. One such hike is out here in California, not far from Muir Woods. All you do is drive up Highway 1, turn right on the Panoramic Highway and park your car at the Pantoll Ranger Station (if you can. Parking there is kind of a pain.) Then you strap on your running shoes (who needs hiking boots for such a short walk?) and head toward the ocean. On a clear day, you will see some astounding views, and the redwoods are beautiful. It’s almost all downhill (or flat), and you wind up in lovely — if somewhat sharky — Stinson Beach for fish and chips and perhaps a beer or two — so long as you’ve brought a designated hiker-driver along with you. Then, when you are finished with your dining, shark-watching and libations, hop on the West Marin Stagecoach ((415) 526-3239), which will take you and your friends right back to Pantoll for dirt cheap. Calories expended? Zero. In fact, this may be the one hike in the world where you get fatter as you walk along. In other words, it’s my kind of trail.
(by the way, this is NOT to be confused with the Tourist Club/Beer Woods hike that I wrote about a short while ago.)