I’ve found my new favorite local hike.
Tomales Point. Dramatic and grand it’s also a geologic marvel.
An aerial photo would help explain the geology of the point. I found the website of a photographer named Robert Campbell. Yow! Stunning. Visit this link and find the 4th photo from the bottom titled “Point Reyes Station and Tomales Bay.”
Consider Tomales Bay a finger on the pulse of the notorious San Andreas Fault, poking the little town of Point Reyes Station. Said bay and Olema Valley running south are called a Rift Zone. The great earthquake of 1906, which demolished most of San Franciso, wrecked havoc on the little farming communities in this area.
This geology info I’ve gleaned from a meaty but useful field-trip booklet by the USGS.
The Point Reyes Peninsula calls the Pacific Plate home. It took an 80-100 million year long ride up the coast from Southern CA. Marin County sits on the North American Plate. Most of the rocks on the east side of the Tomales Bay are sedimentary in nature (mostly sandstone) with some pillow basalt from underwater volcano action mixed in. The peninsula’s make-up is much like what’s found on the Big Sur coast down south, more ancient granitic rocks frosted in sedimentary covers. Makes sense.
This map shows how the peninsula connects to the mainland:
On to Tomales Point.
Back to Robert Campbell’s website. Find the last photo on the page, titled “Tomales Point.” Imagine walking out to the tip.
That’s this hike.
One drives all the way out Pierce Pt. Rd. to its end. There sits the old Pierce Pt. Ranch. Once the most successful and largest dairy farm in the area, it ceased operations in 1973. The site includes the home built in 1869, a large barn, a school and numerous outbuildings.
This photo I took on a later, fog-free trip from the road above it. I like that you can see how the ranch sits in relation to the bay (on the right), the Pacific on the left and the point.
The ranch house:
Left the buildings and headed out the trail. Walking through this felt like I was floating along. It’s open and treeless up there. Maybe this is why early sailors feared sailing off the earth?
Looking back at McClures Beach (that’s a future post):
Looking ahead at the ragged coastline. Cue the sun:
Cue parting clouds with angelic voices singing down: I got a view of what was to come.
There’s a gap mid frame above. My pics of this area did not come out. It’s called (?Windy Gap?). Pierce Point Ranch once had a second farm here. Must’ve been a harsh place to live and work. Long gone, now it’s spring is a favorite spot for Tule Elk. Nearly hunted to oblivion they were reintroduced and now thrive. Here are some I passed by:
Many stop above the old farm site making it a 4 mile round trip. I went to the end. It’s a bit of a sandy slog past the gap but well worth it.
At the end I planted my butt down and listened. Waves, birds, and the offshore buoy’s steady bell were a perfect foil for a sort of meditation.
Once I had my fill, I retraced my steps back.
9.5 miles out and back. A handful of rolling hills keep the mostly flat hike honest. It is wide-open. Be ready for weather changes and bring warm clothing if you go.
Back at the ranch (har har) a raven (my favorite bird) was tapping at and making noises at a window. Was it trying to enter? Did it think it’s reflection another bird? Amusing.
Should make a beautiful spring flower hike I suspect.