Pt Reyes: Drakes Beach-North Beach

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

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Point Reyes National Seashore was established to preserve and protect wilderness, natural ecosystems, and cultural resources along the diminishing undeveloped coastline of the western United States. From its thunderous ocean breakers crashing against rocky headlands and expansive sand beaches to its open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges, Point Reyes offers visitors over 1500 species of plants and animals to discover. Home to several cultures over thousands of years, the Seashore preserves a tapestry of stories and interactions of people. Point Reyes awaits your exploration. (http://www.nps.gov/pore/index.htm)

This route heads west from Lucas Valley through the towns of Olema and Inverness. Roll along Tomales Bay on Sir Francis Drake Blvd through the beautiful Pt Reyes National Seashore to Drakes Beach and North Beach. Look for the free roaming Tule elk!

Lucas Valley begins on flat-rolling terrain for the first 3.5 miles along the valley floor.

The road tilts up for the climb up to the Big Rock summit; it’s one mile long with an average grade of 7.2%.

Lucas Valley drops down into the valley through the gorgeous redwoods to the ranches and grasslands of West Marin.

Turn right on Nicasio Valley Rd to Nicasio Square.

Nicasio Square

Nicasio Valley Rd takes you along Nicasio Reservoir to Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd.

Turn left and head west on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd for the scenic flat miles around Nicasio Reservoir with views of the surrounding rolling hills.

At the STOP sign, go straight onto Platform Bridge Rd. The flat to rolling terrain goes along a quiet back road to Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

The climb up Olema Hill to the top of the Bolinas Ridge is 0.8 mile with an average grade of 7.4%.

The road quickly descends through the Golden Gate Nat’l Recreation Area onto CA-1 N to Olema with fantastic views of the dense forests and open ridge top!

A short jog on CA-1 N leads to Bear Valley Rd; this back road runs along the east edge of Pt Reyes National Seashore with views of the low marshlands and wooded greens.

Continue on Sir Francis Drake Blvd to Inverness; the road hugs the shoreline along Tomales Bay through the small residential and business community around Pt Reyes National Seashore.

The climb up Inverness Hill to the summit on Inverness Ridge is 0.9 mile with an average grade of 8.7% and steep pitches maxing out at 11%! Keep a lookout for the Osprey nest!

At the bottom of the descent at the Y intersection, we continue left to stay on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. The flat terrain on this road goes along a creek that flows out to Schooner Bay at Drakes Estereo.

The road winds along the bay pass Historic G Ranch, circa 1869.

The short pitch up from the ranch takes you out to the open grasslands and coastal scrubs to Historic F Ranch.

The flat road extends to Bull Point Trailhead with views of Creamery Bay.

The road continues with a series of climbs and descents towards the Historic E Ranch with splendid views of Drakes Estero.

 

The road winds up, down and around the expansive pastoral lands to the Pt Reyes Lighthouse/Drakes Beach junction.

Go straight and continue on Drakes Beach Rd to Drakes Beach. The views from the top of the ridge are spectacular! From Historic D Ranch, the ocean comes into view followed by a steep descent to the Visitors Center/Drakes Beach parking lot.

Keep a lookout for Tule Elk!

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Drakes Beach-enjoy the gorgeous coastal bluffs and sandy beach! A wide stretch of beach backed by dramatic white sandstone cliffs makes this a very popular place. Drive-up access, a small café and a visitor center add to its appeal. The sands of the Drakes Bay cliffs were deposited in a shallow sea 10–13 million years ago, compacted, then uplifted. Erosion has revealed the striations of this story in the cliff faces. (http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/beaches.htm)

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The descent is now a steep climb out of the beach area with gradient ranges of 11-14%!

Tule Elk!

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At the Pt Reyes Lighthouse junction-continue straight on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. The rolling terrain leads back to Historic E Ranch followed by a descent.

At the Pt Reyes North Beach sign, turn left and head down to the beach area.

North Beach-enjoy the views! The Great Beach—also known as Point Reyes Beach—is an incredible expanse of over 17 kilometers (11 miles) of undeveloped ocean beach visitors are welcome to explore. If you are looking for the drama of heavy surf this is the place to be. Drive-up access is located at the North Beach or South Beach parking lots. Please be very cautious near the water as “sneaker waves” have been known to drag unwitting victims out to sea.( Please be very cautious near the water as “sneaker waves” have been known to drag unwitting victims out to sea.)

Exit North Beach and return east on Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

Drops back down through Inverness and head south along Tomales Bay.

Stay on Sir Francis Drake Blvd for a stop at Point Reyes Station on CA-1 N.

The short climb up CA-1 N leads out of Pt Reyes Station towards Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd. Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd drops down along Nicasio Creek followed by a short climb up to Black Mountain Ranch. The flat-rolling terrain continues to the junction at the colored bridge.

Stay on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd for the climb up the spillway to the top at Nicasio Reservoir.

Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd continues on flat terrain around the reservoir for the next few miles to Nicasio Valley Rd.

The flats on Nicasio Valley Rd takes you back along the SE edge of the reservoir to Nicasio.

Return under the beautiful redwoods on Lucas valley Rd for the gentle mile long climb to Big Rock summit.

The run down Lucas Valley Rd finishes off with a fun flat stretch back to Miller Creek Rd.

This is a gorgeous ride along the quiet beautiful back roads around West Marin. Come out and explore the spectacular beaches around Pt Reyes National Seashore-you’ll love it! Keep an eye out for the herds of free-ranging Tule Elk around the open coastal grasslands-they’re magnificent!

Garmin Stats:
75.49 Miles with 4193′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 637′
Max grade: 14%
Terrain: Moderately hilly

Weather: Sunny inland with dense coastal fog. Temps ranged from the high 50’s to the mid 90’s with brisk SW winds

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Drakes Beach

Follow this route for today’s ride:

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