Updated: Jul 22, 2020
Tule Elk Reserve, Tomales Point, Pierce Point Ranch, walk through history, conservation and the peninsular beauty.
Looking to be one with nature, Tomales Point makes for a perfect choice
Point Reyes is home to the historic Pierce Point Ranch, Tule Elk Reserve and Tomales Point. It is about 90 miles from east bay and takes about 2 hrs passing over the Richmond Bridge in the Marin county towards Lucas Valley Road. The drive is amazing through thick forest, small towns and windy roads. Tribe left early and we had the whole road to ourselves. It was still foggy along the way, from Lucas Valley take the road towards Nicasio Valley Blvd. Follow onto Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, and turn right at the Y signed for "Tomales Bay State Park" and "Pierce Point Ranch." Along the way you will pass through a few ranches with cows and horses making for a perfect countryside views.
Park close to the trailhead outside of the Pierce Point Ranch. Tribe was probably the first few cars there. We quickly gathered our daypacks and followed signs to the trailhead. Very well maintained for the first 3 miles, moderate climb with amazing views of the cliffs and ocean on the left and Tule Elk grazing on the right. For the first couple miles, the visibility was not that great, fog was still out there, weather was chilly with slight winds. We were hoping that the sun would come out soon for us to enjoy the stunning views around us. Given the trail was mostly flat , tribe moved quickly. There are some wonderful wildflowers to enjoy all along the way. Once you are about 1.7 miles to the Tomales point the trail suddenly becomes a lot more undefined. Moreover you get extremely slow given that the ground you are walking on is completely sandy with overgrown plants. A lot of what grows around makes for sensitive elk habitat, it's extremely important to stay on trail.
Interestingly what I also learned was that the Tule Elk, a subspecies of the Elks is only found in California. The early European and Spanish settlements in addition to unrestricted hunting resulted in disappearance of the herds of Tule Elks by 1870. That is when a serious effort was made to protect them and subsequently laws were put in place. The male elk can grow upto 500 lbs, while the female could be around 425 lbs. The efforts turned out to be fruitful and Point Reyes, Tomales Point area became home to the Tule Elks, one of the largest herd in California.
Heading through the overgrown parts of the trail, we reached the most amazing views of the day. Sun burned the fog and the cliffs, bluffs and Pacific Ocean started to shine. You can easily sit and enjoy the sound of waves, the sea lions at a distance and the wonderful views for an entire day. The cliffs are lined up with beautiful wildflowers. While the views are amazing it's important to exercise caution at this point as the bluffs can be loose and there is at least 40 ft if not more of a drop. The narrow trail leads to the end of land, tribe enjoyed their snack and company of some wonderful wildlife around.
After a short break at Tomales Point, tribe traced our journey back the same path, we were luck to see a large herd of Tule Elk by a water bowl. Once we were at the end of our hike, we took a slight detour into the Pierce Point Ranch for a walk through history. The dairy, the barn, the school were just so amazing.
Pierce Ranch was one of the ranches in the early 1800 and they excelled in production of dairy products including some of the finest butter. At the time, the ranches in Point Reyes area were considered to be some of the finest. The Pierce Ranch ceased operations in 1973.
The tribe was so glad they decided to do this trail, just a perfect blend of soaking in the nature we needed.
Learning's from the tribe - 'Pictures are not able to capture the immense beauty of nature', thoughts from Mystic Lion. That seemed so apt! Memories of an incredible journey are so much more valuable!