Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hiking Among the Elk

The rains seem to have ended for the season and the days are bright and sunny. Now is the perfect time to visit Point Reyes National Seashore; one to two hours north of San Francisco, depending on the part of the park you wish to explore. (For more information, read "Rick's Tips, No. 12."

This past Sunday we left a sunny San Francisco hoping to find an equal amount of sunshine at Point Reyes, where we planed to hike to Tomales Point, one of our favorite trails in the Bay Area. We were not disappointed when we arrived. The sky was bright blue with a few wispy and puffy clouds. The temperature was in the sixties with a fair amount of wind. Nearly perfect hiking weather.

The Tomales Point Trail starts at the historic Pierce Ranch, an old dairy farm, and ends 4.7 miles later at the northern most spot in the park - Tomales Point. The trail travels over rolling hills with breathtaking views of Tomales Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. After our heavy rains this winter, there were an abundance of wild flowers in bloom -- California Poppies, Queen Ann's Lace, iris, thistle, lupine, and others. Plus dozens of tule elk were easily visible from the trail.

As you start the hike, the Pacific Ocean, North and South Beaches, Point Reyes, and McClure's Beach are clearly visible to your left. Further down the trail the panorama moves to your left, where you can see Tomales Bay, the villages of Marshall and Dillon Beach, and Mt. St. Helena in the distance. As you climb what appears to be the last hill, you soon discover that you have not yet reached the end of your journey. There are two more false ends before you finally reach Tomales Point. Here your view includes most of the aforementioned sights, plus Bodega Head straight in front of you.

Prepare for the hike by dressing in layers as the weather at Point Reyes is usually colder and windier than anywhere else in the Bay Area. While it is windy on Tomales Point, you can sit in areas protected from the winds so a picnic lunch is a perfect reward for reaching the point. You can pick up supplies in nearby Point Reyes Station and Inverness. Lastly, there are no restrooms on the trail, but they are available at Abbott's Lagoon and McClure's Beach, which are near the trailhead at Pierce Ranch.

If you want to take a private custom tour that includes a visit to Point Reyes, try our Point Reyes Ramblings Tour. You may book a tour by calling (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mailing me by clicking here.

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