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Now is a great time to do that trail trifecta that starts and ends at Stinson Beach. Judging from the crowds on two of the trails, you – or someone you know – has likely done it.

Of course I’m referring to the loop of Steep Ravine, Dipsea and Matt Davis trails. I’ve done it a few times, always starting on Matt Davis, doing the long, difficult uphill first – maybe 3-4 miles worth of serious climbing – and then resting at the Pantoll Station (full facilities, parking, maps, etc.) before heading into the unforgettable other two-thirds of this 9-1o-mile loop. Distances can vary, based on some side spurs, detours and appropriate coastal wandering for better views. We climbed up to about 1,500 feet in elevation and did nearly 10 miles.

This time though, I did it backwards, and it was the first time I got to climb the 10-feet-high Steep Ravine ladder that is as popular as it is polished-down from use. Let me tell you, it was an entirely different hike, and a vivid reminder that sometimes a new perspective can emerge from a familiar view. Instead of an arduous and exposed climb, it was a hike that began under cover and alongside a

creek and several gushing waterfalls and then crested at an appropriate lunch spot. Much different to do it this way, but I suspect that’s how most people do it.

The redwoods provide a cool inland change from the beach weather, but are scattered enough that terrific views of the ocean and into the Marin Headlands are visible throughout most of the hike.

This hike also did include a detour to the Mount Tam amphitheater that is the site of the Mountain Play performances. It’s a stone embankment set into the mountain that is almost a show unto itself, with the accompanying views and forest sounds. This will be the 99th season of shows there, and they start in a few weeks. ‘The Music Man’ is the 2012 show. Click here for more details.

On the Dipsea Trail around now, there are lots of indicators of the upcoming Dipsea Race. Here’s a factoid – it’s the oldest trail race in the country. It started back in 1905, and this year’s installment will be June 10. It’s too late to register for the 7.4-mile run, but it’s quite an event.