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Two Days of excursions from San Francisco to show a friend of mine a bit of local California. The first day was a trip down towards Big Sur, ending up at Point Lobos with a walk around the Preserve, returning by way of the very scenic Carmel Valley Road. On the second day, we visited the Marin Headlands, with a stop at Bonita Beach and a dusk visit to Muir Woods. Maps and description of Wednesday is here. Maps and description of Thursday is here. Map(s) of perambulations below.
After a not excessively early start, we headed south on I-280...certainly more scenic and interesting than US-101. The drive down was pleasant, especially south of San Jose where the freeway has finally been widened. We hit the coast at the former Fort Ord, where the sand dunes are covered with a particularly scabrous looking growth of iceplant. After winding past Carmel we were informed (by signs) that Highway 1 was closed south of Big Sur, which derailed one of my options, however, shortly after crossing the Carmel River we reached Point Lobos State Reserve, which neither of us had visited before, so we stopped there. Point Lobos is a fragment of granite that the San Andreas Fault is slowly shipping to north...rather a change from the usual mudstone coastal benches.
We parked at Whalers Cove. The water in the cove was amazingly clear and calm. There was a Great Blue Heron perched on the kelp offshore, and an assortment of other interesting birds. We walked along the North Shore Trail around Cannery Point, then cut inland on the Whaler's Knoll Trail, then down to the other side of Point Lobos on the Piney Woods Trail. On the way back, we followed the Lace Lichen trail across the fairly recently burned flats to the the Whalers Cove road and the Museum and the interesting artifacts there.
After leaving Point Lobos, we stopped just up the road at San Jose Creek Beach, which had an actual sandy beach, unlike the granite rocks to deep water of Point Lobos. This gave Marna a chance to visit the Pacific Ocean again. As sunset was approaching, we pointed ourselves at San Francisco to return...and almost immediate turned to the Southeast (instead of due North) on the Carmel Valley Road, one of the wonderful smaller roads that cross from the Coast to the Interior, in this case to the Salinas Valley. Lots if squiggles, and the whole variety of California coastal-to-inland scenery. We made it over the crest before the light failed entirely.
On the way up the Peninsula, it struck me that we were nearing San Mateo where one of my favorite sushi chefs if now working, so we stopped at Kyoto and ate and hung out with Kevin. I still miss him at Ebisu. Besides the sushi, he has a fine touch in the kitchen.
About 2 miles, a couple hundred feet of climbing.
Mostly sunny and warm. The trails are well groomed.
Excursion route, route in fuschia and blue
Detail map of Point Lobos with walking route, route in fuschia and blue
We started the day off with a visit to the Post Office and an ultimately successful effort to overnight several items to a friend who is about to be deployed to Iraq. Lunch at the Chinese fast food nearby, then we headed out for a bit more sightseeing.
Over the Golden Gate Bridge and up Conzelmann Road, past Battery 129 and Hawk Hill to the bluff over Bonita Beach. The Bonita Beach Trail has a prominent "Trail Closed" sign installed, apparently more to keep tourists from freaking out about the de facto clothing optional status than actual impassability of the trail. The trail is steep and slightly treacherous. We wandered down to the west end of the beach, more protected from the breeze, scrambled up on some rocks and then down to the next pocket beach. As the tide seemed to be coming in, we didn't stay too long, crossing the strand between waves for the safer main beach.
Onwards to Muir Woods, by way of Rodeo Valley, the cool tunnel under the hills, back onto the freeway and through the Rainbow Tunnel, down to Tam Junction, back up the winding Shoreline Highway to the ridge and down again on the excessively twisty Muir Woods Road. One forgets, living here, how neat it is, until you go out with a visitor.
Dusk in Muir Woods...in a valley with lots of tall trees, one of the best times to visit the redwoods. Almost noone else there. Trilliums were flowering, even an Erythonium. Marna found some trees to hug. Then the walk back in the evening dimness. Back, by way of the Shoreline Highway.
The Bonita Beach trail is short, maybe a half mile each way, but steep, gaining nearly 500 feet. Muir Woods is pretty much flat, our loop was just short of 1.5 miles.
The weather was pleasant and sunny, a bit breezy at the beach, but certainly not windy. As dusk fell, it got rather chilly in Muir Woods.
Map of hike location and route detail maps, route in fuschia, orange and blue
Point Lobos and Points North / Robert Parks / email@example.com /
revised Feb '04