November 5, 2014
Flawless day for a coastal run, just wish I had someone to enjoy it with. Drove down to Muir Beach to start my run for the day – lots of parking on a weekday, new (to me) vault toilets but couldn’t find a drinking fountain anywhere…would have been a nice extra. The trail stars by walking over the bridge over Redwood Creek to connect with the Coastal Trail. Turn left after exiting the other side of the bridge.
Now it’s a steady climb to the top of the hill on the access road, and the views get better the closer to the top of the hill. From here, the trail spurs off of the fire road and switchbacks down the side of the hill, following the contour of the hillside. The trail can be a little overgrown on your way down to Pirates Cove, witch is an additional 100+ feet down the hill, but worth the extra effort. It is a rocky shoreline, and is best appreciated from a distance. A sneaker wave too close to the water would not be a pleasant surprise, but a trip to the hospital at best.
Looking straight up the hill from Pirates Cove, you can see the seemingly endless staircase that awaits you for your climb out of the ravine. Well made and placed wooden stairs are evenly spaced for running up or down the stairs. Another great effort to get to the top and it’s time enjoy some more coastal vistas that are only earned after hiking or running this far. There are two choices from here for your descent to the Tennessee Valley and beach: the little used single track trail that hugs the steep rim of the coastal cliffs or the fire road that is safer, but still a steep hike down to the road that connects to Tennessee Beach. Today I chose the fire road, as I was hiking/running alone. Finally at the beach, I took a little time out to enjoy my surroundings. Far more people there than I had expected to see on a weekday. The beach is somewhat accessible by car by parking at the end of Tennessee Valley Road, and walk about one mile to the beach at Tennessee Cove. I’ll have to ride my mountain bike there someday with a friend and have a picnic on the beach.
Now time to head back, I have a lot of climbing to do to get out of this valley. Taking the fire road again, it was a calf burner on an already warm day. No complaints, mind you, just a comment. At the top I had a chance to cool off with the afternoon breeze picking up, and attempting to run part of the way back down to Pirates Cove. With the ruts and some loose rocks, I throttled back my downhill effort to insure I completed my journey in one piece today. (Always better to live to run another day). Now for my last big climb of the day, getting out of the ravine at Pirates Cove and climbing back to the top, nearly a 360′ gain in elevation. A couple of level spots where I got to run at a fair cadence made me feel like I got my heart rate up.
Back at the top, I quickly begin my descent back to Muir Beach. Once again, the dirt access road is not an easy running surface, with ruts, rocks and loose dirt making me unsure about pulling out the stops and run down in a full gallop. About 200 yards form the bridge the road becomes smoother and more conducive to jogging for me. I kept up a good pace until the bridge, then it was time for my cool down. I did walk a little extra to cool myself off, then about 5-10 minutes of stretching before I poured myself in the car for my drive home. Very happy with my run today, though there was so much climbing I wasn’t able to work on cadence, but – another day, another run…we’ll see where I go tomorrow.