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Friday, June 8, 2007

Point Reyes: Mt. Wittenberg & Woodward Valley

20070201 Fallow Deer
Fallow Deer

When I started hiking it was for two objectives: exercise, and photo opportunities. I did not value the experience of hiking for its own sake. But the more I hike, the more important that experience becomes, and the less I worry about those other objectives.

I planned this hike in order to get a good workout. The winter hikes in the area do not require nearly as much climbing as the Sierra trails allow in summer, and I had done very little hiking from October through December. So I wanted a long hike with as much climbing as I could get in at Point Reyes National Seashore.

At 13.5 miles with 1407 feet of variation in elevation, this hike gave me the workout I wanted, but it also proved to be an absolute delight, and a great overview of the variety of wonders Point Reyes has to offer.

I started from the staging area at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, and took off on Bear Valley Trail for 1.9 miles before hitting the junction with Mt. Wittenberg Trail. Then came the steepest portion of my hike. The trail doesn't go to the peak, but there is a small spur trail that does, so I took it. The "peak" was disappointing--it's just a clearing in the woods. The only view you have is of the trees around you. But I still, I guess I bagged that peak.

So I continued on to the Sky Trail, and then onto the Woodward Valley Trail. The Sky Trail was in a lovely forest, but the Woodward Valley Trail is where I started to get excited. It goes through an area that was hit hard by the 1995 Vision Fire. There are some areas that were not touched, others that are growing back nicely, and others that are still dominated by charred trees.

20070201 Leaf

At one point on the trail, not too far from the above leaf, I encountered an area with lots of wild mint. The smell was nearly overpowering, and quite an unusual experience for me. Later as I started descending the coast, I was treated to views of the Limantour Spit, Drakes Head, and miles of beaches.

20070201 Douglas Iris

20070201 Douglas Iris

At the end of the Woodward Valley Trail I turned south on the Coastal Trail. I encountered the fallow deer (up top) somewhere along the Coast Trail. The trail also took me by a little spur trail to Sculptured Beach. My friend Erik and I had recently hiked there to see the tidal pools at low tide, but I made a quick jaunt out to take another look.

20070201 Giant Green Anemone
Giant Green Anemone at Sculptured Beach

Then it was back to Bear Valley Trail and the easy return to the car alongside the creek.

Before returning home, I drove around and shot some Marin County neon.

20070201 Fairfax Theater

20070201 Lark Theatre

Hike Summary

Trailhead: Bear Valley
Approximate Distance: 13.5 miles
Map: South District Trail Map

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