Hike Date: May 12, 2012
Distance: ~ 9.4 miles
Trail(s): Tomales Point Trail
Where’s it at? Marin Headlands. Pt. Reyes National Seashore
This is one of my personal favorite hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area. There is great wildlife viewing from insects to Tule Elk, Harbor Seals to Canadian Geese. There are also TONS of wildflowers depending on what time of year you go. Personally, I recommend May when the weather is nice and the flowers at their extreme. There are parts of the trail where you are literally losing the trail in a sea of 4-foot tall flowers. There are also some nice looking Cyprus trees here and there.
The hike is fairly long but there’s nothing too intense in terms of elevation change, and with so much scenery you hardly notice it. On the return trip if you know where you have to get back to, it does seem like a long ways away but the trail goes by quickly. Signage at the trailhead suggests it’s a 4.7 mile hike. Usually these signs would indicate TOTAL mileage but this is just the mileage out to Tomales Point, a small peninsula on the very northern end of Point Reyes. The return trip is along the same trail. Throughout the hike you can see both the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay.
The trail starts out without much fanfare. You might wonder where are all these flowers and wildlife, but things change pretty quickly. As you round the first of several hillsides you will inevitably see a large number of Tule Elk to your right. In fact, you will see Tule Elk in fairly large numbers of the next half of the hike. It’s been odd to me that I’ve never seen one on the other (ocean) side of the trail… After a while you will see a grouping of Cyprus trees in the distance shortly after a large freshwater pond, which has a tree that you can use as a bench and is a nice spot to grab a snack or have lunch. Beyond these trees is where the trail really narrows and depending on the time of year you will be literally surrounded by millions of wildflowers. Some of the most interesting to me are the cobweb thistles which look like they have spider webs protecting their flowers. The trail turns into fairly loose sand as you approach the end of the trail but nothing too bad. At Tomales Point itself you can scramble down a fairly steep path and will usually see a lot of sea birds and sea mammals here. It’s another spot to have lunch.
Bring plenty of water, wear some sunscreen and use the restroom at nearby McClure’s beach as there are no facilities along the trail!
Strongly recommend doing this hike, and if you can, do it in the Spring. I’d hiked and posted a blog entry of this same trail last year in 2011.
Photos from A Hike on Tomales Point Trail (click to enlarge)
- nps.gov on Pt. Reyes Hikes
- bahiker.com on Tomales Point Trail
- Point Reyes Birds Info
- Info on Pt. Reyes Tule Elk
Directions to Tomales Point Trail in Pt. Reyes
View Hiking the Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes in a larger map