On the southern flank of the Point Reyes National Seashore, wedged between the ridges of the San Andreas Fault zone and the bluffs overlooking the ocean, lies what optimistically is called the Lake District.
Happy to report that the Lake District between Olema and Bolinas is not a misnomer even in these drought-dominated days. In a 5-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 will be the perfect antidote for your parched eyes. And, of course, there are gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean.
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.
Weekend hike: Palomarin Coast Tail, Bolinas, Marin County
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Trail length: 10.5 miles
Elevation gain: 2,368 feet
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 Point 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) 1 1/2 miles toward Bolinas. Turn right at Mesa Road and drive 4 miles (the last mile of which is unpaved) 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 Trailhead.
Exposure: Can get windy near the coastal bluffs; can get sunny on exposed ridge
Toilets: Yes, at Palomarin Trailhead