As much as I’ve been exploring Point Reyes the last couple of years, it is always a treat to head out on a new path there. I’ve done several hikes that have touched on Drakes Bay, but never the Estero Trail.

A few miles west of Inverness, almost to the lighthouse, the Estero Trail is a great jumping-off point for several routes.  Our group headed out to Sunset Beach, about an 8-mile out-and-back hike over fairly easy terrain. Climbing was minimal, not sure what the elevation gain was but I doubt it was much more than 500 feet at any one point.

Some hikes are short and quickly forgotten, some are hard and memorable. This one was fairly brisk but not to be dismissed. Ocean breezes, postcard scenery and good company generally add up to a terrific outing. On the way to the beach, we crossed the estero itself, or the estuary. On the trip out, a cow (la vaca! la vaca!) ignored us as we wandered by, content to graze. On the way back, he was resting on the ground, obviously worn out from the day of sunshine. Even if the cows didn’t appear to see us, their presence was evident as part of the trail is a semi-cattle trail, complete with large cow droppings to be avoided.

The overlook of the water is a constant throughout the hike, and it’s a good view of egrets (I think) and oyster farms. Which was fitting as after the hike, we celebrated by BBQing some fresh Drake’s Bay oysters, purchased just up the road. Add garlic and lime to those chunky mollusks, throw them on the grill, and they’re delicious. (Even without salt and butter.)

For our hike, lots of color on the trail, which isn’t always the case this late in the summer. From the purple irises to the red-tailed hawks, this hike provides plenty to see. We lunched at Sunset Beach, a small inlet on the Bay with plenty of sand, calm water and bench-like logs. While it was chilly when we headed off from the trailhead, and it is usually is, the beach is sheltered enough that it was pleasant enough there for us to linger for awhile.

[nggallery id=24]