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Welcome to the camp, hidden in the forest on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais.
Ben Schmidt was one of the Tamalpais veterans. He was as passionate about music as he was about hiking. In the late 1950's he placed a music stand in a hidden area and invited his friends to join him there. For many years, his "Music Camp" was one of the mountain's legendary locations, and only a few hikers knew its location. The trail to it is now marked, but it remains a special place, with music stands, wind chimes, sand dollars, crystals, small benches, and other gifts or messages brought by visitors.
Music Stand Trail is off of Laurel Dell Fire Road, across the road from the short connector to Barth's Retreat. Many hikers come from the Rock Spring trailhead, and take Benstein or Simmons Trails. More information about this route is in the Bay Area Hiker.
I often start near the Mountain Theater parking on Ridgecrest, above the Spring parking lot. From there, we take the fire road to the Benstein trail (after it joins and then separates from the road). During the early spring we look at the wild Calypso Orchids blooming in this area or off unsigned trails east of Barth's Retreat, and then head down to camp.
Music Stand Trail follows the West Fork of Swede George Creek -- normally dry or just a trickle this high up. The trail becomes clearer as the path descends. Music Camp used to be slightly away from the main trail, but the path now takes you directly to the cache location.
The cache is a small plastic container hidden behind the rocks that border the camp. Please make sure that it remains out plain sight.
What you find at the camp might vary with each visit and you may want to bring something for it as well as the cache. The MMWD "cleaned up the area" long after this cache was placed, but it is still a Music Camp so feel free to make your own music or to listen to what is around you -- you can often hear the sounds of the creek and a slight breeze.
There are many of the Mountain's secrets in this area -- from the orchids to parts left by a corsair crash long ago, near Laurel Dell and off the Micky O'Brien trail. As always, Tamalpais Trails by Barry Spitz or the "Rambler's Guide" maps are the definitive sources to the trails of this area.
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