Saturday, June 8, 2013
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We’re heading west today to avoid the scorching high inland temps predicted around Contra Costa. The weather forecast for the Pt Reyes National Seashore area shows sunny blue skies with no coastal fog and temps to be in the mid 70’s-it’ll be perfect!
We begin at our usual place; on Miller Creek Rd at the Marinwood Community Center in San Rafael. The flats on Lucas Valley Rd leads up to the short climb up to Big Rock summit followed by a very nice descent into the valley through the towering redwoods out to Nicasio Valley Rd.
Nicasio Valley Rd goes along the reservoir with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains, golden rolling hills sides and open meadows.
We stop for a brief moment to move a snake off to the side of the road on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd. The reflections of the mountains and hills create a perfect mirrored image from the calm blue waters of the reservoir-gorgeous! I think this is one of the most beautiful roads in Marin with its gorgeous scenery, great pavement, wide shoulder area and flat terrain.
The gentle flat rolling terrain on Platform Bridge Rd leads to the crossing at the old Platform Bridge up to the Olema Hill climb on Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
The fast descent drops us down through the town of Olema to Bear Valley Rd and back onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd to Inverness. Sir Francis Drake Blvd heading north runs along Tomales Bay through the towns of Inverness Park and Inverness.
The 0.8 mile climb up towards the ridge has an average grade of 8.5%, it begins at the intersection of Camino Del Mar to the top at the Pt Reyes National Seashore sign.
At the bottom of the short descent, stay on the right to continue on Pierce Point Rd. The short pitch up to the top has wonderful views of the mixed woodlands and open grasslands of the Pt Reyes National Seashore area.
Pierce Point Rd heads north for 9 miles out towards Tomales Point to our destination at Pierce Point Ranch. The first 6.2 miles of flat gentle rolling climbs on this quiet road goes pass the Historic Ranches, the trailheads leading out to Abbotts Lagoon and Kehoe Beach. The open grasslands and treeless coastal plains are dotted with beef cattle and dairy cows. The Clover Organic Farm occupies a large part of the dairy-farming ranches in this area.
The climb up towards Inverness Ridge to the Pt Reyes headlands begins after passing the gravel dirt section through the cattle ranch; it’s a 1.1 mile climb with an average grade of 8.5% and steep pitches of 11-13%. The reward for this effort is the breathtaking views of the seashore and expansive pastoral plains.
The road continues up along the ridgeline with commanding views of Tomales Bay-WOW!
As we wind our way around the ridge, the road opens up to views of the Pacific on the descent down to Pierce Point. We spot a herd of Tule elk on the west side of the wilderness area of Tomales Point-they are a magnificent sight!
We drop down to Pierce Point Ranch and have our lunch next to the hay barn. If you’re not in a hurry, take the self-guided tour and explore the ranch.
From the ranch, we reverse our way back on Pierce Point Rd; it gives us another opportunity to enjoy the stark beauty of the coastal prairie and grasslands.
Our next destination stop on Pierce Point Rd is at Tomales Bay State Park-Hearts Desire Beach. The quick descent takes us to the lower parking lot down to the beach area. Water and restrooms are available here.
The climb out from Hearts Desire takes us back on Pierce Point Rd to Sir Francis Drake Blvd. We return through Inverness and Inverness Park to CA-1 heading north to Pt Reyes Station for our snack stop at the Bovine Bakery.
We continue on CA-1 N along Tomales Bay for the next 8.6 rolling miles to the town of Marshall.
The stair step climb up Marshall Petaluma Rd aka “west Marshall Wall” begins with a steep pitch up to the red St Helens Church; it’s 1.3 miles with an average grade of 7%. The half mile descent drops down to the ranch before the next climb begins.
The second 0.8 mile climb up to the top of Bolinas Ridge has an average grade of 6.8% with steeper pitches of 9-11%. Look around and enjoy the awesome views of Tomales Bay from the top of the ridge!
The sweeping ridge line descent takes you down to Walker Ranch for the gentle rolling miles through the canyon out to Hicks Valley Rd.
Hicks Valley Rd takes us onto Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd for our next short stop at the Marin Cheese Factory.
We continue on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd for the short climb and fast descent down to Nicasio Valley Rd into Nicasio.
The last 9.4 miles on Lucas Valley Rd takes us back to Miller Creek Rd.
It was a perfect day for a ride out to Pierce Point Ranch-no fog with mild winds and balmy temps; we got to experience nature at its best! And the Tule elk herd sightings was icing on the cake-Life is great! Check the weather forecast before heading out to Pierce Point Ranch-on a clear sunny day, it’s spectacular!
100 Miles with 6939′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 854′
Max grade: 14%
Weather: PERFECT! Sunny and warm with clear blue skies. Mild morning SW winds turning to brisk NW winds in the afternoon. Temperatures ranged from the mid 50’s to the low 90’s
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains ride into and above the clouds. ~Edward Abbey
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Well, I rode to Inverness that day and I can’t believe we didn’t see each other. I rode from San Anselmo, but still. Give me a head’s up sometime when you’re headed this way. I had 3 friends that went all the way to the Light House that day, but I bailed at Inverness.
Best regards, Bill Stephens
Bill, I’ll have Michael contact you, we’ll set something up to get together! Nancy
Nancy – Kudos to you for moving the snake out of harms way of cars. Did you find a long enough stick nearby to do that? Beautiful ride and thanks for sharing.
Rinaldi, Thanks! The snake was just out on the road catching some sun-Michael’s the one who moved it to the side and it slithered away. Nancy