An axiom about hiking: A vista reached after a tough climb is more beautiful because it was harder earned. A similar truth about mountain biking: A downhill freefall is more fun when you have a hard climb to get to the start. That was the conclusion I reached after biking the Stewart Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore.
The trail is the best of the few routes open to bikers at Point Reyes. It runs about 6 miles one way, starting near Highway 1 and concluding in magnificent style at the Pacific Ocean. The route is almost equally divided between an uphill section and a downhill section. On the way in, the climb is thankfully shaded by trees as you make your way up the service road that is the trail. The views open up on the descent to ocean panoramas.
I took the trail as a weekend bikepack trip, staying at the gorgeous Wildcat camp on the ocean. Reservations must be made for the camp months in advance. You haven’t seen Point Reyes until you’ve seen a sunset on the beach there.
If you don’t want to camp, you can easily cover the 12 miles in and out on the Stewart Trail in a day. Plan to lock your bike to something at the campsite, and walk to Alamere Falls, a mile south on the beach. It’s an easy hike, but the views are still swell.
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Trail: Stewart Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore
Length: 12 miles, in and out
Info: 415-464-5100, ext. 2, or www.nps.gov/pore/index.htm