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The Best Hikes in Phillip Burton Wilderness

24 Triplog Reviews in the Phillip Burton Wilderness
Most recent of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
10.09 mi • 1,527 ft aeg
I started pretty late in the day because I wanted this to be a sunset hike. This turned out to be a wonderful idea not just because of how amazing it is to catch the sunset at Point Reyes but also because by the time I started, nearly everybody was headed back to the trailhead. I'd originally intended to be back at the historic barns at the trailhead by sunset to get some photos but since there was nobody out at Tomales Point by the time I got there, I took a long break and watched the world go by for a while. As always, it was windy but it was warm enough that it was perfect for hiking.

Wildflowers
Everything was in bloom or about to bloom. The poppies were some of the biggest I've ever seen
7.5 mi • 1,830 ft aeg
Point Reyes... backpacking wilderness of my youth, memories of rainstorms, fog, wind, breathtaking vistas...

Now that I'm an old fart, I just wanted fog and cold to provide some respite from searing heat accosting the rest of the state of CA and AZ. And she delivered in droves! A quick overnight with the wife to Sky Camp was just what was needed. Took the well trodden and refreshingly steep Sky Trail from Bear Valley 2.5ish miles up to the camp rather than the easier access from Limantour road. Ferns, Lichens, Redwoods, Wildflowers, Blackberries, Poison Oak (seriously, don't go to Point Reyes if you don't know how to spot poison oak!), Deer, Wind, Cold --- everything we wanted for a quick overnight getaway. We took the comparatively less traveled Meadow Trail (judging simply by the trail maintenance and width). A very nice stroll and numerous deer in the meadows. No views though. Socked in with fog the whole time. No regrets there though :lol:
5.97 mi • 122 ft aeg
I thought it would be fun to hike multiple miles along the beach while barefoot, and what better place than Point Reyes National Seashore to give it a shot. I enjoyed not having to worry about getting my feet wet, and the free pedicure was an unexpected bonus. The soles of my feet are still a little tender, but in a good way.

The beach was crowded, especially near the Limantour parking area because that day was the first really warm day of the year throughout the Bay Area, and it was above 80 where surf meets shore at the edge of Western civilization. The highlight of my trip was eating lunch atop a large rock that created a cove with a sea arch. The top of this rock had a number of small, shallow tide pools that had organisms small and smaller swimming about.
12.21 mi • 2,307 ft aeg
Gorgeous day in Point Reyes National Seashore. Saw a lot of people including a family taking a stroller down the Woodward Valley Trail which is very steep. They were speaking some European language other than English, French or Spanish which was a common theme today.

This area is pretty much always moist so the ongoing drought isn't as evident here as it is elsewhere in California, but the lack of rain has led to a lackluster wildflower season and many Bishop pines look stressed. The 12,000-acre Mount Vision Fire was 20 years ago this October, and this area seems primed for another conflagration. There are numerous dog hair patches of Bishop pine, and leaf/grass litter is feet thick in places. I think a key to whether or not Point Reyes becomes dangerously combustible will be whether the poison oak dries out. We'll see.

Started at Sky Trail Head, took the Sky Trail to Horse Trail to Ranch Trail to Mount Wittenberg Trail lollipop loop then the Sky Trail to Woodward Valley Trail then south to Sculptured Beach then back on the Coast Trail to the Laguna Trail to Fire Lane and finally on Sky back to the trail head. I wish I would've started earlier so I could've done more, but I'm pleased with the trajectory of my hiking fitness after the disaster that was the 2014 football season.
9.21 mi • 1,864 ft aeg
Today was a very good day to hit Point Reyes because temperatures were in the 60s while the inner East Bay where I live was sweltering in the 90s. I didn't see a soul on any of the trails, and only about a dozen people scattered around the large summit area.
I saw a western terrestrial garter snake, a bunch of raptors including an osprey, a bunch of brush rabbits, scrub jays and California quail. The super-dense Bishop pine forest is always a trip.
The Bishop pine forest consists of large groves of small pines only about 1-3' apart. These pines require fire to open the cones, and they burn like gasoline. The oily sap from the trees helps form a hard crust over the soil so it doesn't wash away during the winter rainy season. There is a foot-deep accumulation of needles and duff everywhere, and the place looks like a tinderbox. Of course the humidity was well over 50% so we probably won't have to worry about wildfires here until September.
Low clouds prevented any views the last time I was here so today's clear sky was a welcome change. I'd definitely do this hike again, maybe add Limantour Spit or the Estero Trail.
Took Bayview up to its trailhead then Inverness Ridge to the summit. Bucklin is a steep way down, and it was in bad shape. Only one tree across the trail, but it was very overgrown with LOTS of poison oak. I'm surprised my legs aren't itch-tastic right now. Maybe the bug juice I coated my lower legs with also works against poison oak? I walked through a lot of 2-foot-high brush today while wearing shorts and this is the height of tick season. Nada :D

Wildflowers
Saw a lot of blue lupine, Mount Vision ceonathus (AKA the Point Reyes creeper), Point Reyes blennosperma, sticky monkeyflower and coast Indian paintbrush.
4.75 mi • 1,298 ft aeg
I met up with my sister and her finace in Santa Rosa this weekend and we ventured out to Point Reyes for a day of exploring the coast. After one hike to see the ocean, we decided to get more of a workout in and hit the park highpoint in the process. Mout Wittenberg is a very nice little peak with great deal of vegetation to observe on your way to the top.
7.59 mi • 586 ft aeg
Gorgeous day in Point Reyes National Seashore. Started at Limantour Beach then walked south on the beach to Santa Maria Beach. Up the Laguna Trail to the hostel then down the Coast Trail back to the beach. Lots of people out today. There were about 200 people on Limantour Beach when I left around 3:30, and more were coming in. I'm guessing that they were planning on enjoying the last sunset of 2013 from the beach. My resolution for 2014 is to hike a lot more than I did in 2013.
5.73 mi • 249 ft aeg
Did this with my cousin Kevin who lives in SF. This was his first hike since we did Redwood Regional Park in May of last year when I took him on a 10-mile hike after telling him it would be 4-5. Limantour Spit is not a grueling death march, but walking almost 6 miles on sand (even the firmer stuff down by the water) takes its toll.
There were a bunch of harbor seals at the end of the spit. The tide was low, and the spot where I saw numerous harbor seals doing their thing in the surf a month ago was now an exposed seal haulout. There were about 20 seals on the beach along with 20 more on a nearby sandbar that's only a few hundred yards from the mouth of the estuary. People are legally required to stay at least 300 feet away from all marine mammals here, and realistically we couldn't get within 500 feet without disturbing them. We saw this guy who was carrying this stout, club-like thing with a large metal hook at its end. Like a giant shark hook attached to a small baseball bat. He didn't seem to bother the seals, fortunately, but it reminded me of something used during those baby seal harvests up in Canada.
Very cloudy with temperatures in the upper 50s, but the wind wasn't too bad.
6.5 mi • 165 ft aeg
I needed an easy hike by the beach for my birthday, and this fit that requirement to a 'T'. The Bay Area has been suffering from a heat wave since June 28th, and I expected the beach to be jammed. I found easy parking a little after noon, though the beach still seemed fairly crowded. Even the traffic to and from Limantour Beach was lighter than it is on a typical Saturday. A lot of the traffic problems I encounter heading out to the Marin Coast stem from the Wine Country crowd (on the way home to Walnut Creek), people heading to San Francisco for Saturday night (both directions), and obviously people headed to the coast. All in all, that made for a decent birthday present by itself.

The hike was cool, but I got way too much sun courtesy of forgetting to bring a hat. Brisk wind about 20 knots, but not enough to whip up a lot of sand. The most memorable part was seeing the dozen or so harbor seals at the end of the spit. They were wary of me, and seemed quite wild. Two gentlemen proposed to each other about 30 yards away from me as I was video recording the seals. I imagine there were lots of similar scenes around the Bay Area last weekend considering last week's Supreme Court decision and the fact that this weekend was Pride Weekend in SF.

It was cool to see a relatively unspoiled estuarine ecosystem. There are cattle in about half of Limantour Estuary's watershed, but their numbers are kept down. I saw mud flats that had tens of thousands of "blowholes" belonging to mollusks every acre so pollution must not be too bad. I imagine Mission Beach in San Diego looked like this area before it was dredged and developed. Pics on the way, but I screwed up the video by zooming in.
9.42 mi • 1,138 ft aeg
This is a nice hike. Great views of both the coast and Inverness Ridge. There aren't many spots on Point Reyes where one can see both Mount Vision, Mount Wittenberg and Firtop. It's usually too cloudy/foggy/misty anyways for such a vista. I gave an older lady a band-aid for her blister as she was 1.5 miles into the loop going the opposite direction of me when I was almost done. That blister looked rough, too. Very red and already open. I hope she's not regretting the hike too much. : rambo : I saw a nice herd of about 3 dozen elk, but they were about 3/4 mile away on the other side of a large drainage, and not much else in terms of wildlife. A few LGBs like dark-eyed juncos, some ravens, and a few coveys of California quail.
There was about a 3/4-mile stretch that was just wading through poison oak and stinging nettle. I was wearing shorts, and my legs are still fairly torn up. And itchy. The native flora redeemed itself in my eyes after I ate about two dozen blackberries I found growing on the trail. Pics soon.
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