Point Reyes National Seashore: Hiking Tamales Point Trail

Road Journals Blog—As my friends and I drove through the late fall fog from Berkeley to Tomales Bay, I felt like a certified tour guide—after all, I’d read Josh Sens’ road trip feature about cruising up Highway 1. When we hit the town of Olema, I began to recognize the sights: “You can rent a kayak at Blue Waters Kayaking!” “And, there's Rocker Oysterfeller's, a great restaurant for fresh oysters!” But we were really interested in what Sens’ story didn’t tell us about—the “hiking trails that lattice Point Reyes National Seashore and its stunning coastal ecosystem.”

Tomales Point Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore

At the beginning of the Tomales Point Trail, you can see to the end of the point.

We decided to head for Tomales Point—a rugged finger of land separating Tomales Bay from the Pacific Ocean, 55 miles north of San Francisco. At the very end of Pierce Point Road, Tomales Point Trail winds along dramatic bluffs falling away to the rocky shore. We bundled up, braced ourselves against the gusting coastal winds, and set off on the 10-mile route.

The first three miles of trail were well maintained and fairly level, meandering through the Tule Elk Reserve where dozens of elk grazed beneath the watchful eye of a five-point buck. Just off shore, we saw a whale blow a geyser of air and then dive away, waving goodbye with its upraised tail.

Tomales Point trails, Point Reyes National Seashore

Two friends hang out above the ocean at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Once we passed the halfway point, the trail became steep and narrow, overgrown in places with brush lupine and coyote bushes. But a few nettles in my socks were well worth the stunning view from the tip of the point, with a sweeping panorama of ocean and a cluster of tide pools just out of reach.

Tomales Point Trail makes for a beautiful trek, but it’s not for the faint of heart (or foot). Make sure that you’re prepared with long sleeves and pants, a windbreaker, and most importantly, good hiking shoes.

What’s your favorite rugged winter sojourn?

This blog post was first published in January 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.