In these drought-dominated days, I’ve found that I go dowsing for water whenever I hit the trails – not to drink, nor to swim in, just to admire. Call it nostalgia for what spring used to be around here.
So this weekend, look westward where, presumably, the Pacific Ocean still surges. On the southern flank of the Point Reyes National Seashore, around Olema and Bolinas, wedged between the ridges of the San Andreas Fault Zone and the bluffs overlooking the ocean, lies what guide books call the “Lakes District.” In a five-mile stretch along the Coast Trail are five lakes – Bass, Pelican, Crystal, Ocean and Wildcat – and, farther inland, a sixth, Mud Lake. Add the Alamere Creek and Falls and assorted vernal pools and ponds, and this seemed the perfect antidote for my parched eyes.
The 10.5-mile, out-and-back trek along the Coastal Trail, or an alternative 11.2-mile loop inland using the Lake Ranch and Ridge trails, makes for a pleasant day trip. It’s also a nice change of pace from the beautiful, but always crowded, trails carved into Mount Tamalpais that can be accessed a scant few miles away in Stinson Beach. There may not be nearly as much climbing on the Coast Trail as on Mount Tam, but testing your fitness should not always be your reason to hit the trails. There’s something to be said for a pleasant jaunt with ocean views, though the coast route does feature a 2,000-foot elevation gain and the ridge route goes from a low point of 189 feet to a high of 1,359 in a few miles.
Weekend Hike: Palomarin Coast Trail
Distance: 10.5 miles
Directions to Trailhead: From Sacramento, take Interstate 80 west to Highway 37. Take the Atherton Avenue exit. Go on Atherton Avenue until it turns into San Marin Drive. Turn right on Novato Boulevard, then left on Pt. Reyes-Petaluma Road. Continue on Platform Bridge Road, make a right on Sir Francis Drake, then left on Highway 1, South. After 9.1 miles, veer right on an unsigned road. Take the road (Olema Bolinas Road) 11/2 miles toward Bolinas. Turn right at Mesa Road and drive 4 miles (the last mile of which is non-paved) to the trailhead.
Route: From the Palomarin Trail head, take the Coast Trail about 4 miles. At the junction with the Ocean Lake Trail, go left on Ocean Lake for 1.3 miles until the loop rejoins the Coast Trail. Turn right on the Coast Trail and retrace steps to the Palomarin Trail head.
Toilets: Yes, at Palomarin Trail head
Call The Bee’s Sam McManis, (916) 321-1145. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcManis.