Serendipity: “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for” according to Websters, which in our case meant deciding to hike the Tomales Point Trail and being unexpectedly overwhelmed with wildflowers!
The trail is located in Point Reyes National Seashore. That national park is a treasure, filled with remarkable animals like a subspecies of the Mountain Beaver found only at Point Reyes and one of the last remaining herds of California Tule Elk, which were down to just 30 remaining animals in 1870 but now number about 450 in Point Reyes and 5,700 statewide.
A well-situated base for exploring this wonderful National Park is the Olema RV Campground with 80 RV sites and over 100 tent sites (note that there is no overnight camping anywhere in the park). Most of the RV sites are arranged around cul-de-sacs so that you are not crowded on both sides by neighboring campers, and the sites along the creek are particularly nice. We reserved just a few weeks in advance and could not get a creekside location, but at site #106 still had some room around us, making for a pleasant camping experience (photo taken before the campground filled up Friday night!).
That evening an unusual travel trailer pulled in next to us; a restored 1972 Bell. Pretty cool!
For our Saturday hike I decided that the 9.4 mile out-and-back Tomales Point trail would be a pleasant excursion. By the time we arrived at the trailhead at 9:30 it was filling up fast. I thought “This is a lot of people for a cool cloudy day in May!”. Three miles in on the trail I figured out why it was so popular. At times the trail disappeared beneath fields of four foot high wildflowers!
In addition to the flora, there was also plenty of fauna. Tule Elk, quail, and Lupen bushes covered with fuzzy caterpillars!
Plus, a great lunch spot.
For a more strenuous hike, on a visit to Olema last year we started at the Bear Valley trailhead, went up to Mt Wittenberg and down the Sky Trail (stunning views to the north on a clear day!) to Kelham Beach for lunch, then returned on the Bear Valley (about 13 miles and 2,000 ft of elevation gain in total).
Lunch on Kelham Beach can be fine, but don’t sit so close to the high water line that a rogue wave will sneak up on you and fill your pack and shoes with water and sand; which is exactly what happened to us a few minutes after this photo was taken…
On that trip we were in site #149 along with some hiking friends in an Airstream on one side and a truck camper behind us.
There are many more trails to explore at Point Reyes National Seashore. And there is no entry fee for the park. Considering it is only about a one hour drive north of San Francisco, it’s surprising it is not more heavily used.