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Tule Elks Encounter At Tomales Point Trail

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Location : Tomales, Marin County, CA.

Parking : Free (roadside)

Trail type : Out and back

Trail Length : 9.4 miles

Elevation Gain : 1177 ft

Difficulty : Moderate

Trails traversed : Tomales Point Trail

Tomales Bay

This is one of the top rated hikes in the Bay Area as it offers spectacular views of Tomales Bay, Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean, not to mention sightings of numerous Tule Elk herds grazing along the trail. During late spring, the area is abloom with colorful wildflowers making the entire landscape picturesque from end to end.

Pink and grey thistles blooming along the trail

Parking is ample along Pierce Point Road at the trailhead. The trail starts off at the big historic farmhouse, and although not well marked, is easy to follow. Almost all of the trail is over rolling hills and is uncovered. So plan this hike on a cool day or in the early hours before the midday sun comes bearing down on you.

As you walk along the oceans edge, you will encounter herds of Tule Elks grazing away, unaware of the gawking passers by. The tule elks were close to extinction, until in 1978 when the National Park Service designated Tomales Point Wilderness as a tule elk habitat and grew the herd from 10 to more than 300 today.

The first mile of the hike is pretty flat and runs along the ridge, providing breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

The trail ascends to its highest point for the second mile after which it falls steeply until you reach a tall tree and fallen logs. At this juncture you can view Bodega Bay in the distance and tule elks grazing around a pond closeby. Soon the trail leads you to a huge sandy dune which will be a challenge to climb if you are not wearing boots and long pants. The trail disappears at this point amongst thick shrubbery, but it is not hard to make your own as you walk in the direction of the ocean.

Trail runs through some thick overgrowth and wildflowers

The "trail" finally ends at the cliff edge with spectacular views of the ocean in all direction, with the city of Bodega and Bodega Beach to your right.

The trail ended at the oceans edge. Worth the long 5 mile hike to this point, trudging uphill and then downhill through so much sand.

This is a good place to break for lunch before retracing your way back to your parked car.

Once you complete the hike you realize why this has been named one of the best hikes in the Bay Area, year after year - with Tule Elks grazing lazily on the side, and wildflowers blooming every step of the way, and the awe-inspiring scenery of the wide span of blue ocean, this Tomales Point Hike is true poetry for the soul!

On your drive back home, stop in Inverness to check out the cypress tree tunnel.

Another interesting sight close by is the long forgotten fishing boat, S.S.Point Reyes in the small downtown area in Inverness.


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