Monday, July 3, 2017

Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes: Elk, Sun, and Sand

The Fourth of July weekend was a great time to do a day trip outside my normal stomping grounds. My friend Alex was game for an adventure, so we decided to hit up the Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore. 

Hike Stats:
  • Distance: 9.5 miles 
  • Elevation gain: 1,223 feet
  • Moving time: 3:14
  • Elapsed time: 4:13 
  • Trailhead: 
According to this site, the hike is rated as  Challenging, but I'd rate it as Moderate. Though there were some hills, but I didn't find them particularly difficult or steep. That said, I do live in San Francisco, so my view on hills is likely skewed.

Why this hike was awesome:

Tomales Point
1. Non-stop ocean and bay views: This hike follows a narrow peninsula between Tomales Bay and the Pacific Ocean. This means you are surrounded by water for the entire route. The first part of the hike ends at Tomales Point, a great place to have a picnic lunch while soaking in the views.

2. Wildlife: The hike goes through a Tule elk preserve. I mean look at these guys! After speaking with a bunch of hikers, it seemed that people who hiked earlier in the day saw more elk than we did (we started at 11 am). The early hikers mentioned that the crowds that come later sometimes scare the elk away. We were lucky to hike at a time of year when there were many babies among the adult elk.

In addition to the elk, another hiker saw sea lions and I saw an adorable gopher.

Yellow bush lupine
3.  Wildflowers: There were a lot of lovely flowers including wild radish and yellow bush lupine and wild radish. While the rest of the trail was covered in dead grasses, the flowers added a lot of beauty. 

4. Easy to follow: I venture to say it's almost impossible to get lost on this trail. You find the trailhead by walking in a straight line from the parking lot, and there are zero turns on the trail. It was super easy to find our way into, out of , and around the area.

What could have been better:

I really enjoyed this hike, but if I could come up with a few minor critiques, they would be the following:

1. Crowds: There were a lot of people on this trail. I did do the hike on the Fourth of July weekend, so maybe that was my fault. :)

2. Out-and-back instead of a loop: I am a novelty seeker, so I prefer loop hikes that don't double back over repeat territory. But honestly, this out-and-back trip didn't bother me. I enjoyed it!

3. Walking in sand. From miles ~4-7, the trail is unmaintained. It's marked as such, so you know when you're getting to the unmaintained section. This wasn't a huge bother, but parts of the trail were very sandy and sand is not my favorite terrain. Still, not a big deal! You can just empty your shoes after the unmaintained section. And you can't really be surprised to see sand when you're walking on a narrow peninsula between two bodies of water

Overall assessment:
As an animal lover, I really enjoyed this hike. The elk sightings were a true highlight as were the ocean and bayside trails. The hike was also just hard enough to be satisfying, but not hard enough to be too tiring. I would definitely do this hike again as the elk sightings would be different every time. As long as the weather is good, this is a unique hike I'd bring out-of-town friends on, too.

View this trail on Relive:

Note: No restrooms at the start of the trail, so stop 5 miles before this trailhead at the Abbott's Point Lagoon trailhead.