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favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

Saskatoon, Canada
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favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

My daughter and I will be renting a car and spending a day driving from San Francisco to Point Reyes in mid April. We would welcome your suggestions of things to be sure to see.

We are from a land-locked province so the seashore is very appealing! We love the outdoors and are reasonably fit. My daughter would not be into a real long hike but I think I could talk her into anything 1 hour or less.

San Francisco
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1. Re: favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

Check out the Golden Gate National Park site for Point Reyes -- there are great road and trail maps (with distances) that will give you a start: parksconservancy.org/visit/park-sites/point-…

Fremont, California
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2. Re: favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

There is a nice walking path by the parking area with gorgeous views of the ocean - I would start there. Its nice to walk; then find a great rock to sit on and watch the ocean for a bit.

On the cove area - i.e. it is a separate area in the park that you drive to (note: it will be on the park map and clearly marked); is worth going to. Usually you see divers and also sea animals here (for example, sea lions, etc.). There is a small museum there (note: one room - but interesting when open). There is a path to top of a bluff there; there are stairs etc. but it is easy to do as long a you can climb a set of stairs. I would go up there and take a look - its right by the parking area.

These are more like 15-20 minute type things to do; but well worth it. Also, there is a nice picnic area in the park - great for a picnic or a snack.

After that there are a number of longer hikes through the trees and hill part; its all so beautiful. I would just choose one and do part or all of it.

Saskatoon, Canada
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3. Re: favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

Thanks RamblinSal for the link to the maps!

Mini, I was wondering which parking area you were refering to?

Napa, CA
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4. Re: favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes has many parking areas with gorgeous views. I'm not sure which one mini is describing.

Anyway, I hope you have good weather, acjjj. Point Reyes is not a good destination if it's raining or very foggy. April, though, often has very good weather.

For a first visit, you should head out to the lighthouse if the weather is decent. You need to go Thursday through Monday. Saturday and Sunday can be very busy and the Seashore operates a shuttle bus, so weekdays are best.

The view out at the lighthouse is one of the most spectacular on the West Coast. It's only limited by the horizon or the fog bank. Whales can still be spotted migrating to Alaska in April. The hike down to the lighthouse itself is moderately strenuous but well worth it if you can handle it. Otherwise, just enjoy the view from the top. There's also a small visitor's center here.

After the lighthouse, I'd head to Drake's Beach and walk as far as you want. If you go east, you can end up at Drake's Estero, the spot where Drake supposedly refitted his ship, The Golden Hinde in the 16th century. Drake's Beach is quite spectacular:

pointreyesphotoguide.com/places/…

There are picnic tables here and a nice cafe' (check hours of operation).

Drake's Beach is best hiked at low tide. Check the tide tables before you go:

http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/get_predictions.shtml?year=2011&stn=1813+San+Francisco&secstn=Point+Reyes&thh=-0&thm=51&tlh=-0&tlm=31&hh=*0.98&hl=*1.04&footnote=

If you are there at high tide, you can always walk on the Great Beach. There's two parking areas, one North and one South. Usually, the surf is up here and the ocean is quite spectacular.

If you find yourselves here at a time when there is a minus tide, you might want to check out the tidepools at McClure's Beach. McClures is at the other end of the Great Beach, about a 30 minute drive. It's a ten minute walk down to this beach and then you have to walk a ways through a notch at the southern end to access the tidepool area. This can be fascinating if you haven't seen one before.

If you do venture out to McClure's, you can also check out the old Pierce Point Ranch next door. If you are here in the late afternoon, you stand a great chance of spotting tule elk in the area.

San Francisco...
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5. Re: favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

I would *highly* recommend visiting Limantour Beach (part of Point Reyes National Seashore; you can find lots of info about it on Yelp and on the National Park Service site -- www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/beaches.htm) Limantour is a gorgeous beach with a long stretch of quiet land and protected reserve/wildlife. There are several different day hike trails that you can take by the beach. If you want to see quintessential beautiful Northern California beach, go to Limantour!

Santa Cruz...
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6. Re: favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

If you are interested, there is, near the Visitor Center, an interpretive "Earthquake Walk", which ends in a place where the earth slid 8 feet during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and separated a fence...It is quite interesting. I believe that the parking lot mini is talking about must be the one at the end of St. Francis Drake Blvd. This is 20 miles from the Park Headquarters and Visitor Center at the entrance to the park.

It is a large park----65,300 acres/

Edited: 06 April 2011, 04:45
Fremont, California
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7. Re: favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

In terms of parking, Whalers is the one with the divers, museum, and sea animals - you can do a quick walk to top of the bluff to see the area at a higher level.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=571

The other one is by the ocean - there are several parking lots there - I tend to park at the end of the parking lot area - i..e where you start looping back again because you come to the end. However, any of the ocean parking lots are spectacular.

San Francisco
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8. Re: favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes is one of my favorite places, and I would recommend: Tulle Elk Reserve (you can drive up there and park your car on the side of the road and take pics), and Chimney Rock for the views and wildflowers. And of course, the lighthouse and Limantour Beach.

If you're up for it and interested in a longer hike, I highly recommend the hike to Alamere Falls. It's on the south end of Point Reyes (close to Bolinas) and is a 8 mile roundtrip hike to a spectacular waterfall that falls right onto the beach. Really nice in the spring.

Also, if you like oysters, don't miss out on the nearby oyster farms: Hog Island and Tomales Bay Oysters are the two that are most well known. Point Reyes Station has some nice restaurants and bakeries (and cute little farmers market on weekends) too.

Napa, CA
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9. Re: favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

mini - your link is for Point Lobos, not Point Reyes.

Saskatoon, Canada
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10. Re: favorite things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore

Great suggestions! We have tentatively booked a car for a Thursday. Will keep hoping for a clear day.