A Fabulous Family Hike on Tomales Point Trail
May 5, 2010Posted by pamela |
One of our favorite places for a family outdoor outing is Point Reyes National Seashore, and it's a favorite with many other families in Marin, too. Guest author Stacey Padrick-Thompson writes about her recent hike on Tomales Point Trail.
My husband and 3-1/2 year old daughter recently hiked a section of the Tomales Point Trail at the northern tip of Point Reyes. Just the drive there is itself worth the time, especially while the hills are still green and wildflowers still blooming (the best flowers are in April and May). At points on our drive, with beauty surprising us around each bend in the road—gorgeous hills cascading down into the ocean, cows, sheep, and horses lazily grazing on the lush green grass, and birds soaring above, and then below, us as we crested the hills in our car—I was swept back to driving the Ring of Kerry in Ireland.
The hiking trail, from which you enjoy spectacular coastal views with the cliffs rising 400 feet above the waves, is easy to follow and relatively flat for the first 30 minutes. Because it eventually starts to climb, we brought a Kelty child carrier backpack, just in case, but didn’t need it since we didn’t go too far on the trail this time. We hiked just high enough to find a nice soft spot on the grass, and break out the granola bars, curried chicken salad, carrots, and apples. My husband napped to the lull of the ocean waves, as my daughter and I played “I spy” looking for many different colored tiny wild flowers and searching for the hole of the gopher who kept popping up to say hello (which also gave me a good opportunity to teach my daughter about leaving animal habitats alone rather than kicking dirt into their hole!).
Though a good portion of the 9.4 mile trail still lay ahead, when the whining started, we decided to head back to the car and take one last look at the white-tailed Tule Elk that inhabit the Point.
It’s a lengthy drive so, if your child still takes an afternoon nap as ours does, plan to head there in the morning leaving enough time to hike, picnic above the ocean, sit back and enjoy the tranquil hills and stunning views—and, of course, still have time for a stop in Point Reyes Station at the infamous Bovine Bakery.
The main street in Point Reyes Station is fun to walk but at least be sure to hit the bakery and treat yourselves to the peanut-butter blondies and (my new favorite) the double-chocolate cherry cookies. I wish I bought some to take home!
Getting there: You can drive to Point Reyes via Highway 1, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Lucas Valley Road, or through Novato on Novato Boulevard past Stafford Lake. My daughter delighted in the drive starting from Lucas Valley and continuing through Nicasio with its enchanted patch of Redwoods, then on past cows grazing on the hills, and people fishing at the Nicasio Reservoir. After passing through Inverness, stay on Sir Francis Drake, and eventually, Pierce Point Road veers off to the right. Head out till you see Pierce Point Ranch—an old white barn and a parking lot.
If you arrive by 11 am, you will most likely find a parking spot in the lot or alongside the road. If parking is full, you might have to wait till some hikers return to their car. There's also parking down the road in the lot for McClure's Beach.
Tips: bring a hat since there is no shade; remember those water bottles and snacks; no dogs allowed. There’s not much privacy on the trail so empty bladders beforehand. If needed, bring a back-pack carrier for your child rather than a jogger.
Stacey Padrick-Thompson lives in Ignacio with her husband and 3-1/2-year-old daughter. In addition to the outdoors, she enjoys Montessori, kale smoothies, singing, writing, farmer's markets, dark chocolate, and anything that helps her get organized.