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Point Reyes National Seashore

Marin, California

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Point Reyes National Seashore

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  • Chimney Rock Trail.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • The historic Point Reyes Lighthouse.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • A common sight within the Point Reyes National Seashore.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • The 12-mile long Point Reyes Beach (also known as Great Beach).- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • The Point Reyes Elephant Seal Overlook is located near Chimney Rock.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Drakes Bay.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • This lifeboat station in Drakes Bay was built to save mariners who were shipwrecked off of Point Reyes.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • McClures Beach.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Point Reyes' Tomales Point is home to one of California's 22 herds of tule elk (Cervus canadensis nannodes).- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Tule elk near Tomales Point.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Tomales Bay seen from Inverness Ridge.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Kehoe Beach.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Located on the southern end of the Point Reyes National Seashore, Alamere Falls is one of only two waterfalls in California that plunges directly onto a beach.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • A calm, glassy morning near Palomarin Beach.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • A forest path leading to Bass Lake from the Palomarin Trail.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Palomarin Trail.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • The road to Point Reyes.- Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Bear Valley Visitor Center, Point Reyes National Seashore headquarters.- Point Reyes National Seashore
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Scenic coastal hiking. Abundant wildlife. Historic lighthouse. Expansive beaches.
Cons: 
Often foggy and windy.
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Alerts: 
As of March 21, 2014, the area of the Arch Rock Trail leading up to Arch Rock is closed due to a collapse of the cliffs making up the overlook. Check with the Point Reyes National Seashore park service for trail status updates.
Region:
Marin, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Team

A stunning California coastal territory managed under the National Park Service, Point Reyes National Seashore comprises the majority of land on the Point Reyes Peninsula as well as the surrounding near-shore Pacific waters. Protected against development risks under National Seashore status since 1962, the Point Reyes coastline remains a pristine habitat and a haven for wildlife that also draws many human visitors to its shores.

The geography of Point Reyes has been shaped by tectonic shifts. Point Reyes Peninsula split from the California mainland along the San Andreas Fault, which caused the sinking of land that now runs beneath the length of Tomales Bay. The entire protected area consists of 71,000 acres that runs northwest from Bolinas Lagoon up to Tomales Point, and west from Tomales Bay to the eastern tip of Point Reyes.

The seashore has an interesting navigational history. The eastern tip of Point Reyes juts out to sea as much as 10 miles, and it is often enshrouded in fog. In pre-radar days, Point Reyes was the cause of many shipwrecks for vessels entering and leaving the port of San Francisco. The historic Point Reyes Lighthouse was constructed in 1870 to mitigate the danger, but shipwrecks continued to occur. A lifeboat station, now included on the National Registry of Historic Places, was constructed in the calmer waters of nearby Drakes Bay near Chimney Rock to rescue shipwrecked mariners from Point Reyes' rocky shores.

Wildlife on the peninsula is diverse, and the chances for spotting large sea and land animals is good if you know when and where to look.  Local wildlife includes various marine mammals, sea birds, and one of California’s largest herds of tule elk that inhabits the grasslands near Tomales Point. Trumpeting elephant seals can be heard for a mile away from their colony near Chimney Rock during the winter months. From February to April, whale watchers visit Point Reyes Lighthouse in hopes of spotting gray whales on their annual migration between Baja and Alaska. Marine life thrives in the waters around Point Reyes. This rich marine ecosystem, part of the Gulf of the Farallons, supports one of the largest populations of great white sharks in the world, which is something to consider before taking an ocean swim.

Point Reyes is home to many scenic and expansive beaches that are regularly ranked as the cleanest in the state. Popular beaches include Palomarin Beach in the south, Limantour Beach on Drake’s Bay, McClures Beach near Tomales Point, and the Pacific side’s 12-mile long Point Reyes Beach, also called Great Beach (Kehoe Beach makes up the northern section of Great Beach).

A wonderful network of trails exists throughout Point Reyes, and there are excellent trail options for day hiking and backpacking that traverse the coastline, forests, and uplands of the peninnsula. Outstanding day hikes include Chimney Rock, Tomales Point, and the Palomarin-Alamere Falls trail. Take the Coast Trail from Palomarin into Wildcat and Coast Camps for a popular multi-day trip. Many other custom hiking loops can be made on the large network of trails within the seashore. Spring hikes offer fantastic displays of coastal wildflowers.

The Point Reyes National Seashore Headquarters is located at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, located near the town of Olema. The visitor center is also a major trailhead, and it is a great starting point to get your bearings along with up-to-date park and wildlife information. In general dogs are not permitted within the seashore due to sensitive wildlife and habitat concerns. A couple of on-leash exceptions are made at Kehoe and Point Reyes' Beaches.

Point Reyes National Seashore is one of the most scenic coastlines in northern California, but it can often be foggy and windy. If you can time a visit during a high pressure weather system with clear weather, you'll be greatly rewarded. 

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