Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes Travel Blog

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The Golden Gate Bridge
I just started my job in June and YAY...I got days off for the July 4th holiday.  So I headed north on an impromptu solo road trip to the Bay Area to visit my brother, to meet up with my cousin Mar who was visiting her friends, and to celebrate America's independence. 

My cousin and I needed an outdoorsy fix since it had been a year since our last adventure...our cross-country road trip.  With its relatively close proximity to San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore was an ideal destination.  Around 9am Mar picked me up in a borrowed car from my brother's place and we drove north on Hwy 101 and across the Golden Gate Bridge.
AWH...Bambi!
  Any trip to San Francisco is not complete without viewing this engineering marvel so we took the Vista Point exit into the northeast parking lot. 

After we took our token SF photos, it was back on the 101 into Marin county where we exited Sir Francis Drake Blvd westbound towards San Anselmo.  Tweny miles west, in the town of Olema, we stopped for an early and quick lunch and hike provisions.  At the junction of Sir Francis Drake Blvd and Hwy 1, we headed north on Hwy 1 and onto Bear Valley Rd to get to Bear Valley Visitor Center (1 of 3 visitor centers for Point Reyes NS).  At the visitor center, we quickly viewed the area exhibits, purchased post cards, and got trail maps.
Drake's Estero at low tide. Entrance to Home Bay on the right and entrance to Schooner Bay in the background.
  After consulting a ranger, we decided to take the Estero Trail because my cousin had to return the car later that evening. 

From the visitor center we stayed on Bear Valley Rd until it joined Sir Francis Drake Blvd.  We continued on Sir Francis Drake Blvd for about 7 miles to Estero Rd which after a mile led us to the Estero Trailhead parking area.  My...how quickly the weather changed.  At the visitor center the sun was shining and the clouds were few and far between.  At the Estero Trailhead, the skies were gray and threatened rain.  We decided to hike on...if bad weather prevailed, we could always turn back. 

The first "stage" of the Estero Trail cuts through tall grasslands.
Bluff overlooking Drake's Estero
  We were lucky enough to run into Bambi feasting by the trail and he allowed us to take pictures of him before he scampered off into the thicket.  When we rounded a curve in the trail, the trail started to descend into a Monterrey pine forest which was totally out of the blue but it said to be remnants of a Christmas tree farm.  The trees were tall and grew densely.  The trail continued out of the forest and into more grassland before we crossed a wooden bridge over a narrow section of Home Bay, which is part of Drake's Estero (an estuarine system) .  At the time we crossed the bridge, the tide was making its daily retreat exposing the the bay's sandy bottom.  After the bridge, the trail veered to the right and thus began the first of several hill climbs and descents. 

Somewhere along the trail,  the trail was blocked off by a wood and barbed wire cattle fence.
The Wanderer
  On the right side of the blocked trail was a type of kissing gate (gate that allows people through but prevents the passage of livestock) that was basically a narrow, "N" shaped pathway that we had to squeeze through to get to the other side.  After the gate, we made our way further along the trail in free range cattle country.  Cow patties were everywhere...I tried my best to avoid stepping into a pile of shit!  At the top of one steep hill was a grassy bluff overlooking Drake's Estero.  Large fallen tree branches that littered the ground offered us a place to sit and enjoy the view.  In the distance, I saw floating platforms which were oyster beds for either Drake's Bay or Johnson's Oyster Farms. 

After we traversed more downhill and uphill sections of the trail and passed through another fenced kissing gate, the trail reached a junction.
Drake's Estero
..to our left is the continuation of the Estero Trail...the trail ahead of us leads to Sunset Beach via the Sunset Beach Trail.  We paused and checked the time.  We decided to continue on the Estero Trail.  From the junction, the Estero Trail went up a slight incline and lead to an old dilapitated coral.  Not sure where the trail was, we followed the fencing and the remanants of a cattle trail until we saw water again.  We looked at our surroundings then at the map and we decided to veer to the right and follow the cattle trail that headed towards the water.  There was no signage marking Drake's Head but we were on it.  We continued on the Drake's Head Trail but the wind started to whip around us and it looked like the clouds were rolling in fast.
Sea Lion Overlook
  So we decide to head back without reaching the bluff at Drake's Head. 

On our return to the trail junction, the sun started to peek out behind the clouds...awh...the solar warmth!  The way back to the Estero Trailhead was lovely.  The tide was making its way back into the estuary and the sun was finally out and shining brightly.  We quickly jumped into the car and made our way back to the main road.  It was about 4 pm and since the sun was now out we headed further into Point Reyes National Seashore.  From the Estero Rd, we drove southwest on Sir Francis Drake Rd through acres of pastoral lands towards Point Reyes Lighthouse.  Before the lighthouse was the Sea Lion Overlook.  From the parking area a steep staircase leads down 54 steps to the lookout point.
Point Reyes Lighthouse
  The wind was fierce, the sun shone, the skies were clear, the water was ever-so blue...but no sight of sea lions...oh boo!  So onto our next stop...the lighthouse. 

The parking for the lighthouse was about a quarter mile from the visitor center and UPHILL.  The kicker was the heavy winds which made it so much colder than it should be.  When we got to the visitor center and lighthouse were already closed...shucks!  At least the restroom facilites were open AND they are open 24 hrs/day!  We continued around the center's walkway and it lead down to a viewing platform 300 or so steps above of the lighthouse.  The viewing platform had picnic tables and would make a perfect picnic spot in less windy conditions.  On our way back to the car, we stopped briefly to view the Point Reyes Beach which seemed to stretch on 'til forever.
Point Reyes Beach
 

The ride back to SF was long and we were exhausted.  Point Reyes National Seashore is a beautiful, wild, and diverse ecosystem.  I would definitely come back and hike more of the trails, hopefully view the wildlife, and be awed by the rugged landscapes!
poohstanggt says:
I was just here a week ago!!! Of course, I am lagging on posting!!! LOL. It was soooo cold and windy though-but still amazing! We got there after the visitor's center closed too and that walk was a killer!!! (We were there during a storm so it was even worse than normal). What a fun place though!
Posted on: Mar 25, 2008
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The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge
AWH...Bambi!
AWH...Bambi!
Drakes Estero at low tide.  Entra…
Drake's Estero at low tide. Entr…
Bluff overlooking Drakes Estero
Bluff overlooking Drake's Estero
The Wanderer
The Wanderer
Drakes Estero
Drake's Estero
Sea Lion Overlook
Sea Lion Overlook
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes Beach
Point Reyes Beach
Lunchtime!
Lunchtime!
a deer heading into the thicket
a deer heading into the thicket
On the trail leading into an encha…
On the trail leading into an ench…
Bridge at the edge of Home Bay
Bridge at the edge of Home Bay
Home Bay
Home Bay
Cattle Trail...watch out for the c…
Cattle Trail...watch out for the …
Drakes Estero viewpoint
Drake's Estero viewpoint
Limantour Estero
Limantour Estero
Bluff overlooking Drakes Estero
Bluff overlooking Drake's Estero
Limantour Estero
Limantour Estero
Limantour Estero
Limantour Estero
Limantour Estero in the distance
Limantour Estero in the distance
Drakes Estero
Drake's Estero
Mar viewing Drakes Estero
Mar viewing Drake's Estero
The Estero Trail with view of Drak…
The Estero Trail with view of Dra…
Drakes Estero and Home Bay at hig…
Drake's Estero and Home Bay at hi…
Learning how to Fly!
Learning how to Fly!
Im the Queen of the World!
I'm the Queen of the World!
Overlooking Point Reyes Beach
Overlooking Point Reyes Beach
Bluffs above Point Reyes Beach
Bluffs above Point Reyes Beach
Sea Lion Overlook near Point Reyes…
Sea Lion Overlook near Point Reye…
Point Reyes Beach
Point Reyes Beach
Point Reyes
photo by: David