A few weeks ago, Monica and I went on a 9.5-mile hike to Tomales Point on the tip of Point Reyes Peninsula. We hiked with stunning cliff views on either side of the peninsula and Tule Elks grazing just several feet away from the path. It was a very unique hike because it felt like we were hiking to the end of the world (the land) as the peninsula narrowed as we go closer.
We began our day at 5am to beat the traffic in San Francisco and to finish the hike before the afternoon sun started beating down on us. The drive to the trailhead at Pierce Point Ranch took around two hours where we drove through backcountry roads and passed by farms. Because it was so secluded and distant from the highway, the area was very well preserved and we were the only ones there at 7am.
The hike was very manageable despite the distance. For the majority of the hike, the trail was well defined on solid dirt paths. It wasn’t until the last mile or so that it turned into an unmaintained trail hiking through sand, which could be frustrating if you don’t have hiking boots. There was also not much elevation gain so Monica and I were able to hike at a pretty steady pace – averaging ~20 minutes per mile, which I think is a pretty fast hiking pace.
We hiked by cliffs on either side, although we were closer to the Pacific Ocean than Tomales Bay, and it was beautiful seeing down the entire peninsula coast. We saw the coves and beaches beneath us as the waves on the Pacific side crashed into the rocks. It was both relaxing – because there was no one besides us – and exhilarating – because these waves were pretty big. It was like this pretty much the entire hike to Tomales Point; it was awesome.
Along the hike, we were accompanied by various animals who just looked at us curiously. The peninsula is on an Elk Reserve so there were a bunch of Tule Elks just chilling along the trail. They’re giant and the antlers on the male elks looked so majestic! Although the first thing I thought of was how heavy those antlers must be. But anyway, when we walk past them they would all look up and stare at us, and then continue munching on grass. Besides elks, we also saw rodents and snakes crossing the trail as we hiked. There were also mountain lions in the area but thankfully we didn’t encounter any (I was actually slightly nervous about them).
After roughly 2-3 hours hiking at a 20-minute-mile pace, Monica and I finally reached Tomales Point. We stopped by several overlooks to admire the cliffs and waves below us and took a break the tip of the peninsula. To reach to the tip, we hiked along the ridge of the peninsula until we couldn’t go any further. It kind of felt like we hiked to the end of the world (to the end of the peninsula). From there, it was water on all sides and we were probably only 20-30 feet above the water.
The hike back took even shorter because we jogged for roughly 1.5 miles of it. It got pretty hot as the sun rose over the mountains and the trail became more crowded. We had a pretty leisurely hike back to the car and got soup dumplings and ice cream back in San Francisco.
I would recommend the Tomales Point hike to people looking for a moderate but adventurous hike. The hike is a little longer than a stroll in the park, but it’s totally doable in half a day. The views of the ocean and cliffs as well as the elk accompaniment were unique experiences that you don’t get on every hike. I’m glad I crossed off another hike off of my Bay Area bucket list J.