Sunday, April 27, 2008

Briones Regional Park

"Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day."
-Harry S. Truman

Locale: Briones Regional Park (North Section), Martinez, Contra Costa, CA
Date: Sunday, April 27, 2008
Duration: 7 miles (we actually did 7.5 or so in 4 hours)
Price: Free
All in all: A grassy getaway on an immensely hot spring day
Rating: ***
Maps & More info:

I could not find anything more fitting then the amusing President Truman quote to describe our day at Briones. I would describe our four hour plus hike as a successful letdown. Do not get me wrong, Briones Regional Park offers acres upon acres of lush landscapes filled with lagoons, wildlife, grazing cattle and preying vultures flying overhead. The mishaps on our journey were to the fault of our own for we should have hiked much earlier in the morning or perhaps not on such a hot breezeless day and paid better attention to the trails (we actually had to backtrack twice - both times steep uphill sections). So I will attempt to give the few of you reading this the adequate information needed to have a actual successful loop tour of the northern and less traveled end of Briones.

Getting to the northern end is a breeze. Simply go on Hwy 4 into Martinez, take the Alhambra exit and take a right. Then go right on Alhambra Valley Rd, after a mile turn left on Briones road and drive the remaining 1.5 miles til you get to the dead end. Got it? If not, just look for the signs guiding the way. The many trails of Briones are populated by hikers, bikers, equestrians, dogs and cattle. So as you can imagine in the winter, the trails are muddy and are full of animal and footprints. Today in the hot dry air of late April, the trail was completely dry but was rough terrain from all the footwork of last winter and the previous years. In reading about Briones, I found that over a century ago, a man named Felipe Briones ranched the land with his family before being killed on the land. Decades later, the park became an official regional park, more recently Briones Regional Park hit news when this man died:

Ivan Dickson donated nearly half a million dollars to the East Bay Park District when he died, in return they named this loop trail after him at Briones as well as buried his favorite beer and food by a park bench.

Start out this loop at Old Briones road (it'll be at the right of the parking area/or straight through the cattle gate). After a half mile of pretty flat terrain, you will go through another gate - turn right to stay on Old Briones. On this trail you will pass natural ponds and here will be the beginning of the grasslands on this hike. Beware: it was extremely hot and dry in the sun today with very little breeze so either wear a bunch of sunscreen or all white clothing because it would put Dante's Inferno to shame at times so if you know it's going to be hot be prepared. I'd say about 85% of this loop was in the hot sun. After another .3 miles bear a right on Briones Crest Trail - be careful for those cow or horse pies!! At the top of the hill you'll see to your right the Benicia-Martinez bridge as well as the Mothball fleet (aka old warships at bay that have been put to use in many of the Earth's bodies of water). At 1.5 miles, join Mott Peak Trail which is to the left. You'll start to climb before seeing a gate at the top. Ascend to the left first to get a full view of Mt Diablo, the bay, the fleet, and the acreage of beautiful grasslands.
Back at the Mott Peak Trail, go through the gate and descend. You will see cattle and for those of you not too friendly with cows, they are more scared of us then you are of them that's for sure. You should be heading west now and in about .75 miles turn right on Abrigo Valley Trail. You'll pass 2 camps and as the trail starts to go steeply and curvy you'll hear a faint brief waterfall.

But oh fore where art thou trail to reach it? We could not find out. We just saw the creek which was a trickle. We couldn't find the waterfall but found a small fountain like area which was too far away (due to thick poison oak and weeds) to reach.
How lovely it would've been to cool off with cool running water. Out of breath, we continued to climb up past more cattle to yet another gate. Here turn right until you get to Lagoon Trail, now turn left. The majority of the rest of this hike is all downhill. Lagoon trail will continue for a mile and then proceed left onto Toyon Canyon which is very downhill for another mile. At least here there is some much needed shade. Lastly, turn right to Pine Tree Trail. Pine Tree Trail climbs alongside the road you drove in on. At this point in the hike I'd normally be content but today I was just too damn hot and was out of my 2 liter camelbak water. My boyfriend and I took frequent stops (I was nearly hyperventilating unfortunately) even though we were almost back to the car. As we drove back into Martinez and then onto Hwy 4 I did not regret our weekend hike at Briones Regional Park even though we had experienced a bit of a drawback, instead, I decided to marvel it because it is natural, it is beautiful and like John Muir might have thought, it is a wonderful place of open wilderness.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

"Too sweet a flower to bloom on Earth,
she is gone to bloom in Heaven."
-Epitaph on a 2 year old child's gravestone at Rose Hill Cemetery

Locale: Black Diamond Mines, Antioch, Contra Costa County, CA
Date: Saturday, April 19, 2008
Duration: 5.3 miles (took 3.5 hours)
Price: $5 at kiosk
All in All: A wonderful place to explore nature and local history
Rating: ****

Maps & More Info:
Out of all the hikes we have completed thus far, I can't think of a place that is so well rounded. There are over 60 trails at this reserve all of which are full of history. These hikes/trails are great for regular hikers, families, couples, and children. It is very simple to get to as well - just go on Hwy 4 towards Antioch until you get to the somersville exit. Go right on this exit straight for a few miles until you reach the reserve. You will drive to a kiosk where you must pay a fee and receive a map. There are two parking lots. The first is for the information center. STOP HERE IF YOU WANT MORE USEFUL INFO! We had headed to the trailhead and found ourselves a bit confused as to where to start (I definitely wanted to see Jim's Place and the mine shaft). We stopped at the center where there are a couple of live snakes to seek plenty of maps for local hikes and a helpful guide who showed us exactly where we needed to go. From here, drive up the road a mile to the final lot to start the hike.
At the trailhead is restrooms and when we arrived a treasure hunt start. A woman who works for the EB Parks service was handing out GPS's to use for treasure hunts. We saw many children with their parents starting and ending their hunts here. The trails for these were only about a mile or two (mainly up to the cemetery). We decided to not do this or to go on the atlas-mine tour which is $3, though I would go on the tour next time. Before we started we overheard the story of Sara Norton - or the "white witch" who is buried among the 200 at Rose Hill Cemetery (more about her later). I had read the reserve was allegedly haunted adding to my enthusiasm of the hike but I tend not to believe in the occult so I did not feel scared, perhaps, if it was dark out when apparitions have presumably been seen it might be different.

The hike starts out on a blacktop road where you pass mounds and go up stairs pass the old visitor center which is now boarded up for maintenance. After the stairs you will see the Eureka Slope - used to hoist coal to the surface. Do use your map to see the points of interest at each pit stop. (See above picture).

Turn to the right to go on Chaparral Loop. Eventually you will go left on Manhattan Canyon and climb a ways and will come to a cattle gate. Go through it to enter Black Diamond Trail. Black DIamond Trail has the best views. You see the hills, the rocks, the wildflowers, Antioch and the windmills in the distance.

Black Diamond is fairly flat for awhile then climbs upwards with more remarkable views. If you have been to the Donner Falls you will see the same area from the top of B. Diamond as well as Clayton. As Black Diamond becomes a paved downhill curved path, at the bottom you will see Cumberland Trail. Cumberland Trail is brief and leads to an open mine shaft for you to explore. It only goes in a hundred feet or so but a flashlight is handy to view spiders, sandstone, and people who carved their initials and obscenities (shame!).

Continue back to Black Diamond Way. After about .20 miles turn right on coal canyon to see Jim's Place.

Jim's Place was a carved out cave with a skylight, stovepipe hole, and a shelf carved out. It's small but cozy if it was still the 1800s. No one is sure of who lived here or for how long. Continue on the trail. The trail is narrow and watch out for the huge pine cones that fall along here. On this path you will see other mine openings to explore. Eventually, you will go through another cattle gate and turn right onto Nortonville Trail. Stop at the signs to view pictures of what Nortonville looked like. Here over a hundred years ago was one of the small mining towns that held families from all over the world (Australia, South Wales, Scotland, etc) who came to mine. There was a saloon, a school, houses, and shops. After visiting history, continue climbing up the endless hill.

Once to the top, there will be another sign to read about the grazing of cattle and the ecology of the area. At this point there's only around a mile left. The most interesting point of the loop is to come on the left ahead - Rose Hill Cemetery.
The park has a whole brochure just for the interesting cemetery. You can get this at the center or at the cemetery but beware the holders may be empty here. The brochure has a map of the 200 burial plots and some interesting biographies of people buried here. Sadly, last century idiots decided to vandalize and destroy plots and many just have the base of a stone. But the park service has done their research and have repaired broken headstones, placed plaques over proper areas but they still have more to restore. The most interesting plot holder may be of Sara Norton.
She was a midwife who delivered scores of babies who died being thrown from her buggy. People have claimed to see her ghost here at night wearing a white gown, some say they have seen a buggy hearse climbing up the hill as well. True? Who knows, I'm not one to give into the myths but I don't want to be around after dark to find out. The tombstones are interesting and historic. They also tell sad stories. Many are buried with their infants and children who died from disease, accidents, and the mines themselves. I would say the average age of the people buried here is around 20 years old or so. Rarely did we come across an elderly person's grave. Try to read the epitaphs and poems on the grave, some are hard to read.
Notice the misspelling on this stone.

After admiring the cemetery and mourning the tragedies, continue down the hill to the parking lot. A shorter hike through a history chamber was how I felt at the end of the day, one definitely well spent. Above is a picture of a baby snake which said au revoir as we exited the park.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An Effort to Save our State Parks

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
-John Muir, Our National Parks

For those of you who are well aware and well, those of you who may not have heard, Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed to close 48 state parks and 16 state beaches in California for the next fiscal year. That is 64 LESS places to enjoy and cherish. In a society in an era that has dealt with blows such as 9/11, the War on Terror, the increasing gas prices and the economic recession, it at times may seem less important to fight to save state parks but hopefully after experiencing them firsthand (if not virtually through blogs and websites), we all can pitch in to at least try to save these 48 parks and 16 beaches.

Below is a link to the names of these proposed closures as well as places you can go to donate or contribute somehow to the cause. Thank you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Steep Ravine-Matt Davis Loop

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sign
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Locale: Matt Davis-Steep Ravine Loop, Stinson Beach, Marin County, CA
Date: Sunday, April 13, 2008
Duration: 7.5 miles (took us 5 hours due to our car parking situation and a brief backtrack)
Price: Free if starting at Stinson Beach, if at Pantroll ($6)
All in All: A great way to spend a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon.

Rating: ****
Maps & More Info:
Amongst the small but lively city of Stinson Beach lies many famous weekend explorations. Stinson Beach has many shops, restaurants and inns that fall alongside Hwy 1 just yards away from the beautiful Pacific Ocean and miles of trails that cover Mt. Tam State Park. Across Hwy 1 is the fire station on Belvedere Ave where parking is sparse for trail hikers. Our adventure was delayed in starting due to two reasons, however. First of all, coming from Hwy 101 then onto Hwy 1, we missed the first mention of Panoramic Hwy. Instead, the first time we saw Panoramic was when we were just a block away from the trailhead and ended up going up Panoramic when it was unnecessary. For those of you who are heading to Matt Davis trail, I find it simpler and much more scenic to just follow Hwy 1 until you get to Stinson Beach. You'll see the fire station (Belvedere Ave) on your right, take this right and the trailhead begins at the do not enter sign post. As we pulled into Belvedere it was already about one o'clock on a hot and sunny Spring day. The beach was packed and parking was almost impossible. We decided to park at the community center which was not open along with other cars. Just as we got out of our car, a man and his very soon to be wife pulled up and stated, "Do you know this is a tow away zone?" Cripes. In fact, he and his fiance' were to be married that afternoon. Fellow hikers and us were forced to repark. We parked a few blocks away in the confusing one way streets of cramped but lucky tenants overlooking the area. We found a tight spot and finally headed on our way.

Please let it be known that there are in fact 2 starting points and ending points of this loop. You may choose to start at Stinson which this blog is based (which we found to be more difficult then the other start/end) and try to find a parking spot (but not pay a fee) OR you may start at Pantroll station which is actually on Panoramic Hwy. If you choose to start at Stinson, you will reach the Pantroll station halfway through the hike which is a nice pit stop if you have a packed lunch, need some guidance from the ranger, need a bathroom break and water, etc.
Matt Davis-Steep Ravine contains numerous bridges that cross Webb creek like the one above. In fact, as soon as you start out on Matt Davis you will cross one. Sadly due to the heat in the afternoon, I was already partially winded (walking on pavement uphill from the car) once we got to the trail, I figure this along with my long work week added to the strenuous nature of the first half of the hike. What is good about starting at Stinson is you get the hardest part of the hike out of the way first. Matt Davis climbs upwards 1500 feet. As the trail zigzags up the small mountain, we crossed the creek, admired the firs and redwoods and said hello to many other hikers. The trail uses many series of steps so if steps are not your thing, I do not recommend this hike as it can be tiring in the sun and heat. Luckily, this harder part of the hike was in the shaded woods though there was little breeze. We had purchased a pair of blu bandoos which you soak in cold water and wear around your neck to keep cool. I was so glad we got these as they came in handy. We often soaked them in the cool creeks.

We did notice many families (with small babies and children) coming from the Pantroll Station way (which made sense due to it being downhill and not uphill). Never the less, we trekked onwards up to the top of the hill. We stopped at one location where we saw a family eating lunch. It's flat gray rock overlooking the beach. Standing towards the far right we notices a small memorial to a woman who passed away in 2005, though it did not mention why the plaque was placed here, I did not need to question. Shortly after this, we stopped at a small waterfall to get some cold water to splash on our face and saw an angel someone had placed there.

After you get to the top of climbing, you find yourself out of the woods and on a grassy plain. There are three trails. One small dirt trail goes back into the woods, another small trail goes higher up still, and the main trail continues straight on into the sunny plains. Continue on Matt Davis (the sunny straight path). I was actually thankful for getting out of the woods into the hot sun. Call me crazy but I needed a break from climbing up stairs as much of an achievement as it was. The trail continues all the way in and out of wooded areas for about 2 miles where you have to cross Panoramic to the Pantroll Station. But along the much easier 2 miles, be sure to admire the views. Stinson Beach is to your right and San Francisco is straight ahead.

Matt Davis Trail as it finishes the ascent and through grass and wildflowers.

A view of the city from Matt Davis.

Shortly before reaching the Panoramic/Pantroll Station crossing, you will see the following sign:

Toward the beginning of Matt Davis, you will also come across this tree:
Gladly but unfortunately at the same time, we did not encounter rattlers or any wildcats, but we did see the below gardener snake.

There is a bench towards the crossing as well, just a matter of yards later you must cross the hwy to the station. Be careful! At Pantroll station, you have many options. You can stop and eat, fill up with water, ask the rangers questions, use the restrooms or continue on to many different trails. For the purpose of this blog and our trip, continue on to Steep Ravine Trail. This is the most famous section of the loop. It contains a trip into the darkly shaded forest where waterfalls, more bridges, fallen redwoods, and a 10 foot ladder climb awaits you. .8 miles through the trail you find yourself along side a small waterfall and the top of 10 foot ladder.
The ladder may be a bit uneasy for those scared of heights (I am included) but is fairly sturdy and safe as long as you hang on. My only pet peeve for those of us climbing DOWN the ladder is there is only one hand rail, I would feel safer knowing there was two. I did not even use the rail, I simply climbed downwards like a regular ladder as the use of one rail was not enough. Admire the falls, take a few pictures and onwards you go, you are now a bit over halfway through the loop.

The redwoods resemble those at Muir Woods throughout this section and you may feel both admiration and sadness for those trees who are fallen over each other on the flank of the trails.

Soon though, you will junction with Dipsea trail. Dipsea is a well known trail that contains miles upon miles of trail. We also hiked it at Muir Woods. Dipsea is not contiguous however. You will see a "Caution: High Voltage" section (bummer! I thought this was supposed to be nature!), continue to your right - this is Dipsea. Dipsea ascends for a short ways and then flattens. Dipsea continues and you must cross the Hwy once again. The last mile or so is either downhill or flat on crushed rocks with bushes on both sides. Directly in front is the Pacific - what a view, if it wasn't for the noise of the nearby Hwys, it would be damn perfect. The trail dips back into the woods before ending back on the other side of the fire station. Hopefully the trail was worth it. I know it was despite the breeze-less heat and dehydration (I actually drank more all of my 2 liter camelbak bladder bag shortly before the end of the trail). Enjoy the beautiful sunset on the curvy cliffside roads of Hwy 1 as you drive back toward the city.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mt. Diablo - Donner Canyon Falls Trail

"To understand water is to understand the cosmos,
the marvels of nature, and life itself."
-Masaru Emoto, The Hidden Messages of Water

Locale: Mt Diablo State Park (North Section), Clayton, Contra Costa County, CA
Date: Sunday, April 6, 2008
Duration: Approx. 5.5+ miles, took us around 4 hours
Price: Free
All in all: Don't go chasing waterfalls this time of year BUT still a great hike.
Rating: ***
Depending on where you are coming from, trying to find the proper exit may be tricky. We were coming from 680 from the North (as we live in Vallejo). The directions that we obtained were coming from the south or from San Fran, however, I go to school in Pleasant Hill and swore I had seen Ygnacio Valley Rd off of 680 as our directions noted. Coming from the North, we passed Walnut Creek and found ourselves in Danville. Danville is home to the main entrance of the Mt. Diablo Park but this is the southern entrance. To do the Donner Falls trail, you must be in the Northernmost part of the park. So we turned around and on 680 and sure enough we found Ygnacio (ONLY accessible from the right side of the interstate coming from the south). So if you are coming from the north, you need to turn around shortly after passing the first Walnut Creek exits or around Olympia exit. The park trail is in a odd location. It's found in the suburbs of a small town called Clayton. After driving on Ygnacio for around 7 miles, you turn right on Clayton and then another right on Regency Dr. Regency is where the entrance of the trail is located. Park somewhere at the end of the road (which is a dead end).

As we parked and looked around at the nice houses, I couldn't help but wonder if these people take advantage of the beautiful landscapes and trails that are literally in their backyard. I'm sure the people who have lived there for years may grow tired of the same trails or perhaps the hikers who take up their guest parking spots on the road. But I feel that's a small price to pay for the views. The trailhead is down a small hill from the street on the left. You enter a gate (see below). Read what the signs say as well. Be careful of rattlesnakes!! Also there may be a few equestrians as there was with our trip (only on the beginning/end of the trail where it's double pathed). We had the Mt. Diablo map which unfortunately was NOT helpful whatsoever. I believe it's the same map at the entrance. The map shows the entire park and does not show all the individual trails. We were a bit confused at first. Three trails are found at the beginning of the entrance. (We later learn they all take you in the same places, well, kind of). We had to ask hikers on their way out. Take the middle doublepathed trail which follows the Donner Creek.

We got about .1 or .2 miles down when we saw a big wild turkey to our left. I've seen wild turkeys before but this one was large. We managed to take a few pictures before it gobbled and we moved onwards.

We followed a detailed guide from a hiking book I had bought but though some of the trails and mile markers were correct. We found ourselves confused by the trail markers. You have to be sure to be looking at the posts correctly or else you may go in a circle and not realize it. Once the trail became a single path dirt trail, my boyfriend swore he saw either the shadow or the real thing - a black panther. I, however, did not. I had mentioned to him previously that people have sightings of the panthers around parks here occasionally. Was there really a panther? Do not know, but I am doubtful. Ode to the power of suggestion perhaps.

Once we hit mile 2, the trail begins to climb and keeps climbing. I was aware that the trail was much like a roller coaster - going up and down but I found it to be a bit of the opposite. It just goes up, then goes down. From around mile 2 all the way to the last waterfall you see, you will be climbing. The first steep section seemed to be the worst in my opinion (depending on if you like hiking uphill). It seemed to keep going. We have not yet purchased hiking poles but poles would most definitely help on this trail. Note: This was the first hike we did with our new hiking liner socks as well as wool socks on the outside. Though it was warm, it made such a huge difference. My feet were just a little sore and I had no blisters (either it was the socks or the moleskin).

Once you get to the top of the first long ridge, however, it is rewarding. Look around. You will see acres upon acres of trees, hills, Mt. Diablo, the creek, endless trails, a bit of the suburbs, and magnificent rocky cliffs. Much like in this picture.

The first half of the hike is pretty much all uphill, the last half is all downhill. This is how I can describe it best. The waterfalls were much like Monet paintings (much better from a distance). It's been a dry winter and spring so the trails were very dry and so were the falls. The falls were starting to decrease in quantity - you can tell by the mold and moss how big the falls can get.

Though we chose the trail mostly for the falls, I found it to be one of the least enjoyable aspects of the hike. I thought just the gestalt view itself was the best part. Of the three hikes I've blogged thus far (Muir Woods, Pt. Reyes, and now Donner Canyon Falls), I found this to be the most challenging even though it was the shortest. This is due to the fact that it is all uphill one way and all downhill the way back. Some prefer this as they'd rather expend lots of energy in the beginning but I thought going downhill (there are a couple rather steep downhill sections) was just as hard if not more difficult. We tended to let ourselves run down the hill rather than step by step. This proved to be faster to get through those sections but I found myself face first in the dirt.

All in all, the hike went by very quick. Though it's just the beginning of spring, it was very dry and hot in the sunny areas so I had regretted wearing my fleece vest. Layers like a hoodie would be better as you can drape that around your hips. Climbing upwards got very warm and a couple who passed us were barely wearing anything because of the heat. They didn't have any water as well which I thought was a mistake. We saw them later cooling off with the cool water at the falls and creek. Just bring water to drink. They were in better shape than I but I bet you any money they were dehydrated when they returned.
As we headed back, the last mile of trail is pretty flat which was a big relief. It also transitions you from the rocky hills back into civilization. If you so choose, you can reach the summit from this trail as well, it's about 4 miles from the entrance. We figured if we were a bit winded after this hike, we better go on some more day hikes before tackling the summit. One of these days.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pt. Reyes National Seashore - Polomarin Trail to Alamere Falls

"I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier... writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures." - Jack Kerouac

Locale: Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Marin, CA
Date: Sunday, March 30, 2008
Duration: 8.5 miles (took 5+ hours)

Price: Free and priceless all in one
Rating: *****
Maps & More Info:

I only mention Mr. Kerouac because on your way to the Pt. Reyes National Seashore, you will pass the Zen Center on your left. This center resembles Zen Centers that were visited by Kerouac and others of his fellow rucksacking Buddhist friends. I, myself, am not Buddhist but after the hike at Polomarin Trail to the beach could understand some of the enlightenment that is entailed.

Pt. Reyes was a place I chose (my boyfriend chose Muir Woods) because I love the seashore. I know some native bay area residents who avoid the beaches during certain times of the year due to the wind and chill. As I've mentioned earlier, we are from the frozen tundra of the midwest and like to go to the beach regardless. We know the Pacific waters are frigid year round here but it's not about that at all. I did some reading about it on and was impressed by the pictures. This hike was a bit further then Muir Woods but oh so worth it. Far less people and so much to explore.
This was also our first hike after buying proper boots (such a great investment). I got a pair of hi-tecs which were originally sixty bucks, better and more expensive ones are available but I'm a student and my job doesn't provide ample finances so they work great. What I really like about Pt. Reyes is there's a mixture of beach, waterfalls, woods, forest, lakes, cliffs and grassy knolls all into one trail. The drive there has a LOT of curvy roads so be careful. It's quite a drive from Mill Valley/Muir Woods to the seashore. I'd say a good twenty plus miles which takes longer due to the curvy, hilly roads but the views are amazing. The road resembles that of Big Sur. Not at all straight, narrow, not a continuous guardrail with a steep and beautiful cliff over the pacific. On your way you might pass stands of local vendors selling fruit and roasted almonds.

It tends to get windy here so definitely wear layers. The beginning of the hike goes through some shade and woods areas away from the coast. This doesn't last very long before the trail opens up to the coast. A trail also exists that you can walk down to the beach and walk all the way to the falls when the tide is low but we were unaware of it at the time and stayed to the regular trail above. There is no potable water here and be sure to have phone numbers in case of emergency as there is no one at the trailhead as there is at Muir Woods. My cell phone worked at the parking lot but not on the trail. One might say screw technology out in the wilderness anyway, I'm one to agree but sometimes shit happens and a cellphone is the only way out. Maybe if the Donner Party had one back when they were pioneering the Sierras, they wouldn't have resorted to cannibalism.

Anyhow, the trail gets a bit strenuous because of loose rocks and a short steep trail forward - this happens as the trail first curves away from the shore which for us was a bit of a blessing as it got extremely gusty where the trail was exposed. And we were walking against the wind as well. In fact, a couple's dog in front of us nearly fell over due to the winds.

After the short steep walk comes the first lake (Bass Lake I believe) on the left. We took a breather here and shortly ahead of us was a group of fellow twentysomethings, one with a guitar singing. The musician didn't even have a case (in fact we saw them later down at the beach by the falls and were wondering how careful he must've been climbing down with his guitar).

About a mile later comes Pelican Lake, if you look at it, it looks like it connects to the ocean. I mentioned to Nat how this must've been the first lakes we'd seen since we moved out here.
The trail to the Alamere Falls is marked by a sign stating it is unmaintained and it is indeed so. It's a single file trail that had a lot of brush and poison oak growing over it so it'd be best to wear long sleeves walking down to the falls area. It's maybe .5 miles on this trail before getting to the waterfall. The waterfall is in 3 parts. The source, the second fall, and the third and biggest which goes down to the beach. The whole falls is about 50 feet.

Once you climb a bit to where you are between the source of the falls and the ocean. You will be standing around forty feet on a cliff so no horseplaying guys. In fact here's a view of my boyfriend laying on the edge.
The climb down to the falls looks scarier than it actually is. I figure if I can do it, then any average person can as well with no hiking/climbing experience. But still be careful. You need to make sure you have a grip on your feet because rocks slip. It was very windy hear. I had dust flying in my eyes and the people above me unfortunately were inadvertently sending rocks down at me. The beach is very beautiful and provides you with a great view of the falls.
If you look closely in this above picture you will find the guitar loving friend in which I spoke. There were actually quite a few people on the beach and when we were ready for the strenuous climb back up to where the falls start, we had to wait in line. If you come here with a group make sure to space people out - you don't want rocks in the face.

After getting back on the main trail, you turn right. The way you came and the rest is history. Point Reyes was a great experience. But bring lots of water because there's no water source. In fact on passing one of the non-potable water stations we saw that the pipe was broke. Not much help there.

My accident-prone self managed to slip just standing as I was about to kiss my boyfriend on loose gravel. So boots or something with good gripping is key. This time around my feet hurt much less but I didn't stretch enough and after all that climbing from the beach, I soon realized my mistake. But this is definitely one of the most beautiful places to hike for sure.