1.  How do I get to the starting line?

 

For explicit directions, go to www.maps.google.com and enter 320 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941 as your destination.

 

 

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2. Where do I stay?

 

We recommend the Larkspur Hotel, which is the host hotel of the Quad Dipsea. All of the hotels and motels listed below are within 15 minutes of the starting line:

 

Less Expensive

Travelodge Mill Valley, 707 Redwood Hwy., Mill Valley, 415.383.0340

America’s Best Value Inn, 155 Shoreline Hwy., Mill Valley, 415.332.1732

Tamalpais Motel, 680 Redwood Highway, Mill Valley, 415.381.4775

 

Moderate

Larkspur Hotel, 160 Shoreline Hwy., Mill Valley, 415.332.5700

Best Western Corte Madera, 1815 Redwood Hwy., Corte Madera, 415.924.1502

 

Expensive

Mill Valley Inn, 165 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley, 415.389.6608

Mt. Home Inn, 810 Panoramic Hwy., Mill Valley, 415.381.9000

Acqua Hotel, 555 Redwood Hwy., Mill Valley, 415.380.0400

Cavallo Point Hotel, 601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito, 415.339.4700

 

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3. How do I get information on the other Dipsea races?

 

There are two other races annually on the Dipsea Trail:

 

The Dipsea (7.1 miles) is normally held on the second Sunday in June. It is a handicapped race (based on age and gender) and is difficult to get into. See www.dipsea.org.

 

The DSE Double Dipsea (14.2 miles) is normally held on the fourth Saturday in June. It, too, is a handicapped event. It is not a problem to get into this race, which starts at the Stinson Beach end of the trail. See www.doubledipsea.com.

 

Unlike the Quad, both of these races are “open” courses, i.e., runners are permitted to take various shortcuts. This can add to the fun (and also to your chances of getting lost).

 

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4. I don't know the trail, but would like to train for the race on the course itself. What do I do?

 

The best bet by far is to contact someone who knows the trail and get them to show it to you. There are a lot of intersections and, while the Dipsea Trail is reasonably well marked with permanent trail posts, it would be fairly easy to miss a turn.

 

If you want to go exploring on your own, you might want purchase a map. You can find them at The Depot Bookstore at 87 Throckmorton Street in Mill Valley. The best one is called “A Rambler’s Guide to the Trails of Mt. Tamalpais” by Olmstead Maps. A less detailed map is also available at www.durt.org/images/dipsea_tpo.jpg, reproduced here:

 

 

Using a good map and the following verbal description, you probably won't get too far lost.

 

Park on the city streets nearest the intersection of Throckmorton and Cascade in Mill Valley (and observe the parking regulations).  Starting from the intersection of Throckmorton and Cascade Drive in Mill Valley:

 

Proceed southwest on Cascade Drive. Old Mill Park is on your left. The actual Dipsea race starts on Throckmorton and Miller Ave. , but the Quadruple and Double Dipsea races eschew the three blocks of city streets (and the traffic control required to use them). At the end of the block, Cascade bears to the right, but go straight up what looks like a driveway. About 50 yards up the hill, you'll see the bottom of the infamous (there are 671 of them) stairs.

 

At the top of the first stretch of stairs, turn right onto the street. At the first corner, turn sharply left. Look for the next stretch of stairs on your right. You may occasionally see "Dipsea" stenciled onto the street.  All of these markings are accurate.

 

At the top of these stairs again turn left and look for the next stairs on the right.

 

At the top of these stairs, turn right (uphill) onto the street (Sequoia Valley Rd.). This is a fairly busy road, be careful. After a long block, bear to the right (Walsh) into the new sub-division. There is an open metal gate at the entrance to the sub-division. This used to be the Flying-Y Ranch, but was sub-divided in 1990.

 

Stay on the cul-de-sac until the end. Go straight out the back and the trail briefly becomes dirt. After about 100 yards, it becomes paved again.  This is Bay View Drive. Follow it to the end of the street. (Believe it or not, you've now traveled only 0.92 miles.)

 

At the intersection (the cross street is Panoramic Highway), bear toward about one o'clock and you'll see the trail head across the street.

 

The city part now ends and the trail running begins. About 150 yards down the trail there is a fork. Take the left hand fork (downhill) and follow it to the street below. This section is known as Windy Gap.

 

At the street (Muir Woods Road), cross and look for the trailhead across the street. Follow this trail for a little more than half a mile. (Note: in the winter of 2006 there was a slide and washout that closed this section of trail. Runners being runners, many have traversed it anyway. If you go around the “trail closed” sign, you will find the trail in decent shape except for about a 50-yard stretch where you will likely have to scramble a bit and also cross over a 30-inch diameter drain pipe. Alternatively, you can simply turn right and follow the narrow road down the hill for about half a mile. If you take the road route, look for a bunch of mailboxes on your left and the trail head immediately west of them to pick up the trail again.)

 

As you approach the mailboxes, you'll see the trailhead directly across the dirt road. Follow the trail down the hill. At the bottom it widens and you make a hairpin turn to your right.  You'll see a park maintenance building on your right and a road (Muir Woods Road again) straight ahead.

 

Cross the road into the parking lot on the other side. On your right hand side you'll see a railing and some steps leading down to a creek (Redwood Creek). There is a water fountain here, this is the only water before you get to Stinson Beach. The creek may or may not be dry, but there is now a small wooden footbridge over it. If it has recently rained a lot, the water in the creek may flow over the wooden bridge. In this instance, there will be a sign showing a detour for the Dipsea trail. Ignore it.  You'll get your feet wet, but this is the proper trail.

 

Cross the creek and follow the trail (obvious) on the other side up the hill through the redwoods.

 

After about a quarter mile of uphill you'll come out to a fire road (Deer Park fire road). The trail and the fire road criss-cross several times over the next couple of miles, but run essentially parallel to each other. The race route always follows the single-track trail. The trail heads are pretty well marked with permanent markers.

 

After being out in the open for a while, you will go back into the deep woods again and cross the Deer Park fire road one last time, climbing a big hill (known as Cardiac) to the top, where it comes out into the open again.

 

At the top there is an intersection with a fire road (Old Mine Road). Go straight across. There will be an aid station here during the race (mile 4.07). You also get your first view of the ocean here (if it’s not foggy).

 

The next mile or so follows a section of trail that was refurbished in 2008 and is now a very smooth and slightly downhill trail that locals are calling the “Freeway.”

 

The trail eventually cuts off to the right into some trees. After about 200 yards you'll see a fence straight ahead, where the trail bends to the right. During the single Dipsea, you hurdle this fence and go straight down the hill (and I mean straight down) called Swoop Hollow. The Quadruple sticks to the trail (the park rangers don't like this short cut) to the right, which is somewhat slower but very scenic through more redwoods.

 

After about a half-mile, the trail turns left and you go down a treacherous stretch of uneven landings, full of tree roots and often very damp from condensation of the fog. This is called Steep Ravine. Be careful here; 90% of the people I know who injure themselves on this trail do so here.  At the bottom, there is a wooden bridge. After crossing it, turn left.

 

After about 100 yards there is a fire road. During the single Dipsea everyone turns right and takes some poorly-marked short-cuts which involve considerable running on a paved road. It's quicker but you'll get lost if you don't know it. The Quadruple follows the single-track trail which goes straight across the fire road and up the hill (called Insult Hill).

 

This brings you out into an open section called The Moors. From here you can see Stinson Beach for the first time. The trail crosses a couple of more fire roads, but just keep your same bearing and stay on the single-track trail.

 

You drop back into the woods for the last time and come out to a road (Panoramic Highway). Cross the road and run down the dirt hypotenuse and you quickly come to another road (Highway 1).

 

Turn right on Highway 1 and cross to the other side at your first opportunity (often lots of traffic here).

 

Take the first left (Arenal Ave.) and follow it for about two blocks. You'll see the Parkside Café, a small cafe/snack stand on your left. Congratulations, you made it.  The Quad actually takes the first left from Arenal onto Marine Way and goes to the fence at the end to avoid causing congestion in front of the café. The single Dipsea goes through the gate at the end of the street to a finish about 70 yards past it in Stinson Beach State Park. But there is a water fountain just behind the Parkside Café and food there. And if you follow Arenal around the corner to the right (around the little park) you’ll also find a small local grocery store, The Superette. Either is a good spot to re-fuel if you are going to run back to Mill Valley.

 

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Revised 7/21/2010