Pt Reyes Lighthouse-Chimney Rock Century

Saturday, June 29, 2013

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We’re heading west today to avoid the hot inland temps forecasted for Contra Costa County, so what better place to go than out to Pt Reyes National Seashore? This century heads out on Sir Francis Drake Blvd for the long stretch of remote road to Pt Reyes Lighthouse followed by another short jaunt out on Chimney Rock Rd to the Historic Lifeboat Station at Drakes Bay.

We begin this Marin ride at our usual starting place on Miller Creek Rd in San Rafael. The few flat miles on Lucas Valley leads to the short climb up to Big Rock summit. The descent drops down into the valley through the towering redwoods out to Nicasio Valley Rd.

The area along SE Nicasio Valley Rd has many horse ranches and training arenas; the road runs in and out of the redwoods and under a gorgeous canopy of trees before reaching the half mile climb up to the top of the gap. The road drops down pass Roy’s Redwoods and the San Geronimo Golf Club to the small town of San Geronimo.

We head west on Sir Francis Drake Blvd through the towns of Forest Knolls and Lagunitas and enter the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Samuel P Taylor Park. The section of road from Lagunitas to the bridge crossing over Lagunitas Creek is wonderful; it travels under the towering redwoods on smooth pavement with no potholes! The road reverts to bad conditions for the next mile or so before the turn off into the park. Be cautious-this road has no shoulder area with heavier traffic use during the weekends and holidays.

The turn into Samuel P Taylor Park is a welcome detour to staying on the main road;  the scenic 2.1 miles on the quiet Cross Marin Trail takes you through the majestic redwoods and heavy wooded sections of the park. The trail pops back out onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd at Platform Bridge.

The short 7-8% ascent up Olema Hill on Sir Francis Drake Blvd takes us up and over into Olema. We run into our friend Diane at the top of the climb and stop briefly to chit chat-her husband Bill was descending Olema Hill while we were climbing it-small world!

From Olema, we take Bear Valley Rd through the open meadows and marshes along Olema Creek back to Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Sir Francis Drake Blvd heads north along Tomales Bay through the towns of Inverness Park and Inverness.


The 0.8 mile climb out of Inverness up towards the ridge has an average grade of 8.5% and 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 to the left to continue on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. From this point, it’s 16.5 scenic miles out to the Lighthouse; this remote road has stellar views of the bays around Drakes Estero, the open pastoral lands, rolling hills, expansive coastal grasslands and prairies. Cows can be seen grazing out along the coastal fields with the stunning Pacific Ocean in the background-WOW!


The terrain out to the Lighthouse begins on the flats and rollers out to Bull Point and continues with a series of steep 10-12% climbs and descents from the junction at Drakes Beach Rd. Every which way you look, the breathtaking vistas and views of this beautiful remote area will amaze you! Wildflowers gloriously line the road as you wind your way out to the western-most point of the Point Reyes Headlands.




Do watch out for the cattle guards as you enter and exit the historical working dairy and beef ranches along this road. As you near the Lighthouse, there is one section of road with drifting sand-proceed with caution! The coastal views from the top of the ridge are stunning!


At the small picnic area next to the steps, the winds are whipping around at 20-25mph! To shield ourselves against the winds, we opt to have lunch next to the Visitor Center. As we exit the Lighthouse area, the winds have picked up dramatically and it’s blowing!


We reverse our way back on Sir Francis Drake Blvd and continue to the eastern-most point of the Headlands out to the Historic Lifeboat Station on Chimney Rock Rd. Follow Chimney Rock Rd to the very end of the road and it will drop you down to the Lifeboat Station on Drakes Bay. Seasonally, elephant seals can be seen lying along the beach behind the station, but for today, there are none. Take the time to enjoy the fabulous views of Point Reyes Headlands and the ever so blue waters of Drakes Bay.


We exit the Lifeboat Station and make our way back out to Sir Francis Drake Blvd; the tailwinds makes the long miles go by ever so quickly!


We descend Sir Francis Drake Blvd into Inverness and take CA-1 north into Pt Reyes Station for a quick stop at the Palace Market for a cold drink and some salty chips.


For the second half of this century, we head NE on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd on flat to rolling terrain to the climb up the spillway to Nicasio Reservoir.

Tailwinds are still in our favor as we roll along the reservoir to the climb up and out to the Marin Cheese Factory on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd.

From the Cheese Factory, the road drops down towards Hicks Valley with fantastic views of Hicks Mountain, Red Hill and the surrounding meadows, farmlands and hillsides. The rolling climbs on Novato Blvd heading east takes us pass ranches, vineyards, farms and pasturelands out towards Stafford Lake.

The last 15 miles of this route winds around the city streets of Novato through the residential neighborhoods and horse ranches along Indian Valley Rd to the more urban areas on Ignacio Blvd and Alameda Del Prado.

The multi-use path that parallels Hwy 101 from Alameda Del Prado to Marinwood pops us out onto Miller Creek Rd. I look at my odometer and we’re short a few miles to complete a century so we head up Lucas Valley Rd for an additional 3.4 out and back miles before finishing up at Marinwood Community Center.

I love riding out to the different areas around Pt Reyes National Seashore; this less traveled road seems so remotely far away yet is accessible to all of us-we just have to take the time and GO! Come out so that you too can enjoy the stark beauty of what nature has to offer! Remember to check the weather forecast to ensure an optimal day of riding.

Garmin Stats:
100.79 Miles with 7270′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 640′

Weather: FABULOUS! Sunny and warm with mild NW morning winds turning to brisk afternoon winds. Temps ranged from the low 60’s to the mid 90’s

Go where you like, like where you go. Life is good!


Click here to view the interactive route map & profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:

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