Golden Gate Bridge and Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore has been a favorite place of mine ever since my hubby (then college boyfriend) and I hiked the Tomales Point trail and came suddenly face to face with a large herd of over 20 male tule elk standing possessively across the last part of the trail we needed to traverse before reaching the end of the trail, Tomales Bluff. We didn’t want to turn around just short of the end. So, we hung back and waited, watching in awe, grateful for the glimpse of these majestic animals. I can still picture vividly in my mind the elk in the middle of the fog. The thick fog coming from the Pacific ocean, crossing the trail, and ever so gently, swirling down towards Tomales Bay on the other side. It was magical! About half an hour later, just when we were about to turn around and head back, the herd moved off the trail as if giving us permission to proceed. Once they moved far enough away, we tiptoed on, turning our heads frequently to get our last looks and also to make sure they were staying put. It was a little bit scary walking by in silence, knowing that all of their eyes were on us, their size and their antlers were no joke!

We didn’t see the group on the way back, but since then we’ve returned to do this hike two more times, hoping to see the large herd again. Both times we spotted elk, but never in such a large group as the first time. Fortunately, this hike has so much going for it with sweeping ocean views of both the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay, that seeing elk is really just icing on an already fabulous cake. Recently, we hiked this trail again, our fourth time, hoping to see the herd again. But I’m getting ahead of myself… Before I share about what we saw on the trail, let me share with you some things we did on the way that I highly recommend.

Golden Gate Bridge Photo Safari
If you’re lucky enough to cross the Golden Gate Bridge on your way to Marin County, take a quick stop at Baker Beach and get yourself that iconic picture of the Golden Gate Bridge with the SF Bay and Baker Beach in your frame. When we stopped there at around 8 AM, there was still the everpresent coastal fog covering the top part of the bridge. Make sure to explore the Battery Chamberlain on the right side of the parking lot, and read about its interesting history as well.

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View of the Golden Gate Bridge (well, half of it) from Baker Beach
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The Battery Chamberlain

Then drive a few minutes to the other side of the bridge (the side closest to SF) for a different vantage point. A little more bridge became visible through the fog across the bike path.DSC_0155Next we made it down to Fort Point and got our under the bridge look.

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One of my favorite views of the bridge along the trail leading to Fort Point
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Fort Point National Historic Site: if you want to tour inside make sure to check operating hours before you visit (it was closed when we visited)
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A view of the bridge from Fort Point

For the last bridge view, we crossed the bridge and took a picture from the marin side facing the city. If you’re already there anyway, walking a few minutes on the bridge is a must.

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San Francisco is on the left side of the bridge (I swear, really)

Marin French Cheese
After taking sufficient pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge we headed over to Marin French Cheese in Novato to pick up some picnic supplies and enjoy lunch on one of the many picnic tables around the lake. Their soft-style cheeses and various sandwiches (with brie cheese of course) are absolutely delicious!

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Marin French Cheese welcome sign
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Picnic table with lake view
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Our entertainment, a heron catching its own lunch
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Take your pick of picnic benches

Fueled up for our afternoon of hiking, we continued on to Point Reyes National Seashore to get to the Tomales Point trailhead, which was only 45 minutes away. About 30 minutes into the drive we caught a glimpse of Abbotts Lagoon from the road and unanimously decided that it was too beautiful to pass up and that we HAD to explore it up close.

Abbotts Lagoon Hike
The Abbotts Lagoon hike is an easy, short and flat hike which is only about 2 miles round trip (more if  you go past the bridge at the lagoon). The trail meanders along grassy fields over bridges and a boardwalk, giving you glimpses of the lagoon in anticipation. If you’re lucky you may see the cutest little bunnies hopping across the trail. The short diversion to the lagoon was worth it!

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The start of Abbotts Lagoon trail

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Grassy fields and rolling hills for miles
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Nearing the lagoon
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Abbotts Lagoon view, the Pacific Ocean is past the dunes in the far distance
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Great log for a quick stop to admire the view
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What’s up with this sprawled out rabbit? She didn’t move until we got pretty near. At the last minute she hopped away around the bend… to her little one. She was trying to distract us from her baby!
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The momma stayed between us and her baby and tried to get her baby to follow her into the bushes… BUT the bunny just sat there patiently while we took picture after picture. Are you kidding me with the cuteness!

Tomales Point Hike
Our final destination was the Tomales Point trail at the end of the road. Getting back to my story about hoping to see large herds of elk on our 4th time hiking this trail, we were excited to see a a few male elk right when we entered into the Tule Elk Reserve. We took this as a good sign!

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Welcoming elk

The Tomales Point hike starts on the south side of Pierce Point Ranch at the end of Pierce Point Road.

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Starting off on the Tomales Point trail after passing Pierce Point Ranch
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Expansive views of the Pacific Ocean on the left side
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Tomales Bay on the right side

After about a mile and a half we suddenly came across an elk happily eating grass by the side of the trail. Then we saw another, and another… and soon realized that we came upon an actual herd. Unlike last time, these elk were female, some with their youngsters in tow.

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Finally, an elk herd encounter!
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There are many more elk than what we saw at first glance, see the elk sitting down in the grass?

We stood on the trail staring at the elk as they continued to munch away on the vegetation. Every once in awhile an elk would look up and give us the once over, probably wondering why the three weirdos were just standing there still staring at them.

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We had the trail pretty much to ourselves late afternoon
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A view of McClures Beach from the trail (zoomed in)

Just as we were minutes away from our van and already talking about what to have for dinner, one more elk popped its head up right next to us on the trail and greeted us. He stared at us for a few seconds and then went right back to grazing. This trail was amazing until the very end!!

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Our last elk encounter before we reached the parking lot

5 thoughts on “Golden Gate Bridge and Point Reyes National Seashore

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