Point Reyes - Tomales Point, CA • Hike
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Point Reyes - Tomales Point, CA

Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 9.93 miles
Trailhead Elevation 305 feet
Elevation Gain -277 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,488 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17.37
 Interest Historic
 Backpack No
 Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
5  2022-04-02 ajfish
14  2016-09-25 Lucyan
28  2013-03-09 JimmyLyding
author avatar Guides 111
Routes 433
Photos 4,307
Trips 781 map ( 4,566 miles )
Age 48 Male Gender
Location Walnut Creek, CA
Associated Areas
list map done
Bay Area Region
Historical Weather
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Preferred Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb → 3 PM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  7:19am - 5:32pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Hike to the edge of Western civilization
by JimmyLyding

Tomales Point is the northern tip of Point Reyes National Seashore. The narrow peninsula formerly held a dairy farm from 1858 until 1929 and a hog and dairy ranch until 1973 when the National Park Service took possession. The prime attractions here are the obvious physical splendor that comes from hiking out to the end of a narrow peninsula jutting into the ocean, but also the high likelihood of having a close up view of tule elk. Tule elk used to roam Point Reyes and much of California, but hunters wiped out all save a small herd that was discovered in 1880 after the species was believed to be extinct. They were reintroduced to Point Reyes in 1978, and are largely confined to Tomales Point. They're a little smaller than Rocky Mountain elk, and seemingly unafraid of people (though I didn't see anyone leave the trail and approach elk which is illegal).

The trailhead is located at historic Pierce Point Ranch. The ranch buildings are still intact and maintained by the park service. The Tomales Point Trail starts out flat with views over your left shoulder of McClure Beach and Elephant Rock. The vegetation is the common coastal chaparral, but it's pretty chewed up and short courtesy of the 400-500 tule elk. The trail travels gently downhill before bottoming out above a scenic beach.

Continue north on the trail (there are no official side trails on this hike) as it goes uphill for about 3/4 mile before evening out. A steep plunge down to the remains of Lower Pierce Point Ranch (the trailhead is at the upper) marked by small groves of eucalyptus and Monterey cypress a few hundred yards below a stock pond. The ranch is right about 3.5 miles from the trailhead.

The trail goes up and down for another 1.5 mile until it descends steeply to a small overlook that sits 50 feet above the rocks that mark the northern tip of Point Reyes. These rocks are covered in mussels, and sea anemone are just some of the sea life that can be observed eking out a living between them. The last mile of the trail is distinctly more "sandy" as footing becomes slightly looser.

Return the way you came for a total trip that should come in a bit shy of 10 miles.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2013-03-11 JimmyLyding
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

     Permit $$

    Point Reyes National Seashore National Park
    more info

    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Hwy 101 take Second/Third Street exit in San Rafael, CA west as Third St. merges into Second St. before finally turning into Fourth Street. You reach Sir Francis Drake Blvd. 2 miles west of the 101, and take that 17 miles to Olema as it winds through the pretty hill and dale that make up western Marin county. Continue north on Sir Francis Drake as it runs concurrently first with Hwy 1 before heading inland to the west after passing through the small 'burg of Inverness Park. There looked to be a deli, a few restaurants, and a few bed & breakfasts here. Head through the dense forest that cloaks much of Point Reyes for another mile before driving the west of the way through windswept cow country. Pierce Point Ranch trailhead is 17 miles from Olema.
    page created by JimmyLyding on Mar 11 2013 9:41 pm

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