Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
|Tour Cost: $2,295
(includes all lodging, all meals, park entrance fees, leaders, van shuttles, trail maps & narratives)
One of the most remarkable features of the Point Reyes National Seashore is its geographic location. A relatively isolated spit of land with its virtual limitless level of ecological diversity is situated on a peninsula a mere 30 miles from downtown San Francisco. The contrast between the two could not be more stark and dramatic.
Incorporated into our national park system by Congress in 1962 as the Point Reyes National Seashore, the park is bordered on the west, as you might imagine, by the Pacific and its vast white sand beaches, rocky coastline, rugged towering headlands and crashing surf are just a few of the components that contribute to the area’s magnificent seascape. Several of our hikes on this hiking trip are designed to capture the spectacular vistas for which Point Reyes is noted.
But Point Reyes is more than its magnificent coast. It is a land of forests with lush stands of Douglas fir, streams that carve through the rugged terrain, ultimately plunging over and beyond their rocky barriers as they ultimately tumble into the Pacific. It is also a land of rolling pastures and rich grasses that still sustain a thriving dairy cattle industry. Not to be overlooked as an integral feature of the peninsula of Point Reyes is its position straddling the San Andreas Fault.Although San Francisco is most commonly associated with the devastating earthquake of 1906, the epicenter of that quake was located along the San Andreas in the heart of Point Reyes. Needless to say, we are excited about the addition of Point Reyes National Seashore to our hiking program. Two dates are planned for 2013---the wildflowers in June are phenomenal, while October promises sunny and warm weather, the kids are back in school and their parents are otherwise occupied driving them to football and soccer practice. Point Reyes assembles in Olema and we’ll provide a van shuttle from our pre-tour lodge near the San Francisco Airport early morning of Day 1. Along the way, we’ll stop at the Golden Gate Bridge as we cross the Bay into Marin County. We’ll walk the bridge along its adjacent sidewalk as a unique means of stretching our legs. We’re headed to the Bear Valley Visitors Center as a great introduction to Point Reyes and hike several of the informative interpretive trails that radiate from the visitors center, including the Earthquake and Kule Loklo trails. Time permitting; we’ll also hike to beautiful Limantour Beach (6 miles). It’s then on to Olema late that afternoon for our first of five overnights.
Late-16th century explorer Sir Francis Drake occupies a prominent position in the human history of Point Reyes. In his service to Queen Elizabeth I, Drake, following his plundering of the Spanish settlements along the Pacific shoreline to the south, is believed to have landed in what now is known as Drake’s Bay to prepare for the long voyage home. We’ll hike the Estero Trail to Drake’s Head and its overpowering view of Drake’s Bay. The Estero also is noted as a great bird-watching area and is home to the largest harbor seal breeding colony in Point Reyes (9.5 miles).
Day 3, we’ll hike from the Palomarin Trailhead along the coastal trail beyond Bass Lake to Wildcat Beach. We’ll walk along the sandy beach for a view of Alamere Falls and then backtrack to our trailhead (11.5 miles).
It would be unthinkable to ignore the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse and that’s where we’re headed on Day 4. And why would we even consider a visit to the Lighthouse and not descend the 320 numbered steps to the lighthouse itself? Following our tour of the lighthouse, those numbers will assume a greater significance as we return to our van. And since we’re in the neighborhood, we’ll hike out to Chimney Rock with its great vantage point overlooking the sea lions basking in sunshine along the beach below (6 miles).The Tomales Point Trail planned for Day 5 is considered to be one of the most dramatic trails in Point Reyes as it travels along a spit of land to the northernmost point on the peninsula. Tule Elk roam the point and the yellow lupine are not to be believed (at least in June). We’ll hike to the tip of the point, with its unparalleled views of the Pacific and Tomales Bay, before returning to our trailhead (9 miles).
We’re now into our final day and a word of caution here---No early flights out of San Francisco on this day. We have a full day’s hike planned that you don’t want to miss because of some misguided notion that you must catch some insane “red-eye” home. We’ll hike from the Bear Valley Visitors Center, climb the Meadows Divide to its junction with the Sky Trail, hike along Sky’s ridge and then descend to the ocean as the Sky joins the Coast Trail. We’re headed for Arch Rock on the headland above the pounding Pacific before returning to the visitors center along the gentle Bear Valley Trail. Then, and only then, is it time for our inevitable return to San Francisco (9 miles) where our Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tour concludes.
|Day 1||Group assembles at San Bruno lodge (near airport); van shuttle to Olema/Point Reyes National Seashore; walk the Golden Gate Bridge enroute; Point Reyes Visitors Center; hike the network of interpretive trails radiating from visitors center, and/or Limintour Beach||6 miles|
|Day 2||Estero Trail to Drakes Head||9 miles|
|Day 3||The Coastal Trail: Palomarin-Alamere Falls||11.5 miles|
|Day 4||Chimney Rock—Point Reyes Lighthouse||6 miles|
|Day 5||Tomales Point||9 miles|
|Day 6||Meadow Trail—Sky Trail—Arch Rock—Bear Valley Trail||9 miles|
Total Hiking Mileage - 41.5 miles