Point Reyes: Hiking Tomales Point Trail

I rounded the corner and the orange-red tiers slowly came into view. A mix of tourists, bicyclists, and joggers appeared to my left and right. The sun shined down on what was a positively lovely day in the Bay Area as I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on my motorcycle.

This past Saturday, I took a day trip with my friends Luke, Mike, and Brent (Mt. Dana crew represent!) to visit the lovely Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County north of San Francisco. We spent the time enjoying our ride to Tomales Point Trailhead and the subsequent 10-mile hike through some of the most peaceful coastal trails I’d seen.

The group met at my apartment bright and early, and after I warmed up my good ol’ Monster, we were all off to Marin. We made a quick Safeway stop after crossing the bridge to grab snacks and sandwiches for lunch and proceeded on the well-known California State Route 1.

The ride there was so much fun. It had been a while since I’d taken my bike out on a longer trip, and even longer since I’d ridden the twisties, which this route had plenty of. An hour-and-a-half passed by almost unnoticed as I took turn after turn on the quiet one-lane highway. The ride there was easily great enough to make the trip – but then we arrived at Tomales Point and our trip got even better!

Elk-spotting on a beautiful day out at Tomales Point Trail

Elk-spotting on a beautiful day out at Tomales Point Trail

Tomales Point is a beautiful hiking trail located on a peninsula at the northernmost point of Tomales Bay. It’s a straightforward 4.7-mile hike heading north over flat terrain to the tip of the peninsula, with the return trip backtracking the same trail.

We hit the trail close to noon and immediately noticed the calm, windswept terrain surrounding us. This trail was definitely a coastal trail, with no tall trees or vegetation, just rows and rows of grass, sand, and shrubbery. On several points of our hike, we spotted the famed tule elk herds inhabiting the area, including bulls with huge antlers resting peacefully on the plains.

My guess is that we’d just missed the tule elk mating season of late summertime, which usually involves male elk battling each other with their antlers and making high-pitched bugling sounds. While it would’ve been exciting to watch, I was glad there weren’t going to be any chances that day of getting accidentally caught in the crossfire.

Hiking crew at Tomales Point Trail

Hiking crew at Tomales Point Trail

We hit the end of the trail in good time and enjoyed lunch on the cliffs overlooking the crashing waves below. It was really windy here and definitely louder right by the coast, really a great place to bird watch. Between bites of our sandwiches and gummy bears we spotted cormorants diving into the waters in search of prey and  pelicans and seagulls gliding with ease with the wind.

Our return trip was more of the same, except for the moment we came across a coyote on our path. At first we thought it was sick, but it was soon apparent that the coyote was just used to humans – it casually sauntered next to us and crossed over to the other side, lying down for a moment to scratch an itch and continue on. No harm, no foul.

At the end of our hike we explored an old dairy farm near the trailhead entrance, walking through the barns and reading about how the place used to supply milk and dairy products all over California. After a quick break and an easy half-mile walk to McClures Beach, we left for the city, ending our fun and relaxing day trip at Point Reyes.

Ocean waves at end of trail at Tomales Point

Ocean waves at end of trail at Tomales Point


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