Because 1/3 of Point Reyes is controlled pastoral zone, another 1/3 is protected wilderness, and this National Seashore/Park is in the Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve, it seems both spacious and empty. While there, it’s hard to keep in mind that 7 million people live just south of it.
Thursday. Spend some time in the Bear Valley Visitor Center. This is one of 3 information-providing facilities opened to the public. Bear Valley VC is resort like because its architects included lots of wood in its construction. Its displays have a big focus on birds, wildlife, Francis Drake, and the Pre-European inhabitants of the area, the Miwok people. The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center is where free buses stop so that passengers can buy tickets to see the lighthouse. The Lighthouse itself is often open and has some displays. Its observation platform is a popular spot for seeing migrating grey whales. Several short trails–Woodpecker, Rift Zone, and Kule Loklo, which leads to a re-created Native American village–are found near Bear Valley. The entire Point Reyes has 150 miles of hiking trails. Guided trail rides on horses are available.
Friday, beachcomb. Gentle Tomales Bay has a few beaches and is popular with sea kayakers. At Point Reyes, visitors can explore 80 miles of beach. Many trails lead to them. My favorite is the 11-mile-long Point Reyes Beach seen at the top of yesterday’s blog. Nicknamed “Great Beach”, it’s known for high surf, sneaker waves, and rip currents.
Saturday. Learn about the San Andreas Fault. This major rift passes through Point Reyes National Seashore and Tomales Bay. In fact, this is where the Pacific and Northwest Plates exist side by side. The Point Reyes Peninsula moves about 2 inches north each year. A short loop Earthquake Trail is accessed from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. During the famous 1906 San Francisco Earthquake this peninsula shifted 20 feet northwest in less than one minute. Scientists conjecture that Point Reyes was near Los Angles 30 million years ago and has traveled 280 miles since then. The next big shake is said to be soon and inevitable.
50 animal species listed as threatened, rare, or endangered spend time in Point Reyes National Seashore. Unfortunately, the striped skunk isn’t one of the endangered. Evidence of its presence is not hard to find, but this species is at least known to strike the ground audibly with its front feet before propelling those foul-smelling yellow droplets on any tormentor. My advice is to run when it starts striking. That worked for me.