lost in the woods: Forbes Bench hike

I am no navigator.

If you’ve hiked with any frequency, you might realize that trailheads and markers can be a bit difficult to locate. It can be easy getting lost in the wilderness, especially when there are multiple paths sprawled out across the countryside. These are things I thought about as my friends and I tried to locate a short hike on Mt. Tam in Marin County.

When people say they’re hiking Mt. Tam, it can mean any combination of smaller trails, loops, and off-path lines in the grass. Fortunately, however, my friend and I avoided riding rescue copters home. Our on-the-fly hike was made successful because we:

  • Stuck to clearly marked paths through sunny and dry chaparral and shaded and lush forest,
  • Attempted to memorize the names of the trails we were using (starting from the Boot Jack parking lot near Pantoll Ranger Station, crossing over to the Matt Davis trail, and following the Old Mine trail), and, last but not least,
  • Were lazy and lunched after only an hour or so of walking (though, in our defense, it included an intense 50-degree uphill climb!).

Best of all, we stumbled upon a pretty landmark with panoramic pay-off: the Forbes Bench, dedicated to a cross country runner who would gather there with his friends annually. I wouldn’t mind making this picnic hike a tradition, myself!

(Technically dogs aren’t allowed on the trails, but don’t tell on us! We stumbled upon a few other canine friends during our hike, so dear Atticus wasn’t the sole four-legged soul out there. Besides, everyone seemed to fall in love with that lil’ face. What a ham.)


One thought on “lost in the woods: Forbes Bench hike

  1. Dear Ms. Julie: I just read your entry above regarding the Forbes Bench on Mt. Tamalpais. I am writing on behalf on John D. Forbes, the man who had the bench built in memory of his father, John F. Forbes, who was a cross-country hiker, NOT a runner. The bench is located on the spot where, every Sunday, NOT once a year, John F. Forbes would gather with the members of the Cross County Club, founded by Miss Alice Eastwood (a botanist), starting in the year 1900, for picnic lunches after a hike on the mountain. John D. Forbes, his son, had the bench installed about 25 years ago. I might mention that John D. Forbes is now 105 years old. He himself began walking on Mt. Tam at the age of 4 and continued until age 94. His father, John F. Forbes, was born in 1876 and died in 1965. Sincerely, M.E. Forbes

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