Why is hiking through fog so captivating?
For me, I wonder what’s ahead, even if it’s a trail I’ve been on many times. I also know that as my elevation and terrain changes, I may literally rise into and out of the mist. The coolness and moisture in the air are invigorating too. I haven’t hiked yet in England or Ireland but I do plan to someday, and I picture those places as being fog-shrouded moors and hillsides. In any event, on the very northern tip of Point Reyes National Seashore Sunday, fog was everywhere. Until it wasn’t.
Our path was the Tomales Point Trail, a 4.7-mile straight line north to the end of Point Reyes, where Boedga Bay transitions into Tomales Bay. It’s a trail with history and character. The history comes from the Pierce Point Ranch and all the other historic ranches scattered around the peninsula. Pierce Point is more than 150 years old and has the distinction of being one of the oldest working ranches out there. It is also a National Historic Site so there are plaques and information throughout for a self-guided tour. The ranch buildings are at the start of the hike where there’s a large parking lot with overflow room. There aren’t any facilities at the lot, but a short walk down the road is the parking lot for McClure’s Beach where there are restrooms and even more parking.
The hike rolls a bit but with no steep elevations to speak of. The reason to do it is for the view throughout. Ours was foggy but in parts the ocean to our immediate left was visible as was the bay and shoreline of Bodega Bay and Dillon Beach to the right. The tule elk, which I’ve written of elsewhere, were in their customary gender-segregated spots along the way, watching us hikers closely as we passed.
At the end of the straight-line hike, the fog lifted for us, almost on cue, revealing the oceanic expanses in front of and beside us. Nothing to mar that image at all, especially of Bird Rock. And the end of the Tomales Point Trail happens to be a virtual playground of rocks and ledges overlooking the ocean from all heights. Stay for a picnic or just some whale-watching. We saw dolphins and several types of birds, but no whales. The entire hike, with some noodling around, lasted about 10 miles over 4 hours. One downside is that the trail does tend to get crowded and it is a fairly narrow one throughout so either go early or be prepared to be passing and/or passed by lots of other hikers. The photos above are better than my usual fare, mainly because they’re not from me. My winsome hiking partner is on the case these days, photographically.
It had been a few years since I had been out to Tomales Point – it’s a good 25-minute drive north of the Bear Valley Visitor Center – but it’s well worth the visit for a day hike with views as memorable as they are impressive.