Pt Reyes: Drakes Beach-Tule Elk

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

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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. *1

This route heads west from Nicasio out to Olema for a roll along Tomales Bay on Sir Francis Drake Blvd to Inverness. It continues out through the beautiful Pt Reyes National Seashore to Drakes Beach. Keep an eye out for the free roaming Tule elk!

This ride begins at Nicasio Square in Nicasio.

Turn right on Nicasio Valley Rd; it stretches 3.3 miles along the SE edge of 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. Enjoy the wonderful views of the surrounding rolling hills.

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

Cross the Old Platform Bridge at the Cross Marin Trail for the climb up Olema Hill; it’s 0.8 mile with an average grade of 7.4% up to the summit at Bolinas Ridge.

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

A short jog on Hwy 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.

Enjoy the views of Tomales Bay!

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%!

The road drops down to a Y intersection, 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 past Historic G Ranch, circa 1869.

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

The flat road continues out past Historic F Ranch towards Bull Point Trailhead with views of Creamery Bay.

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

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

Go straight and continue on Drakes Beach Rd towards Drakes Beach. Enjoy the spectacular ridge top views!

Keep a lookout for Tule Elk-WOW!

From Historic D Ranch, the ocean comes into view followed by a steep descent to the Visitors Center/Drakes Beach parking lot.

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. *2

Lunch stop at Drakes Beach:

The steep climb out of the beach area has gradient ranges of 11-14%!

Tule Elk!

The road leads back to the Pt Reyes Lighthouse Junction.

Continue straight on Sir Francis Drake Blvd and retrace the route back towards the Pierce Point Rd junction.

The return east on Sir Francis Drake Blvd drops back down through Inverness and heads south along Tomales Bay.

Stay on Sir Francis Drake Blvd for a stop at Point Reyes Station.

The short climb up Hwy 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 dam.

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.

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!

*1 http://www.nps.gov/pore/index.htm

*2 http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/beaches.htm

Garmin Stats:
54 Miles with 2904′ of elevation gain
Max Elevation: 226′
Max grade: 14%
Terrain: Moderately hilly

Weather: Breezy & overcast with some afternoon sun. Temps ranged from the mid 50’s to the high 60’s with brisk SW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:

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