The hiking book: Hiking the San Francisco Bay Area
The distance: 9 miles
The CityGirls rating: 8

The ocean was calling to us last month.

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It cut through the haze and dirt of the city, whispering of cool breezes, wet air, and expansive vistas. It tugged us away from holiday shopping, preparing for visitors, and mundane chores.

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It drew us to golden cliffs and salty air that refreshed the senses and the spirit.

And off we went to clear our heads and clear our lungs. To recharge amidst the greenery and expand with the ocean as it stretched to the horizon.

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From the Bear Valley Visitor Center, we struck out through Point Reyes National Seashore toward the bluffs that overlook the ocean at the park’s western edge. A cold breeze reminded us of how warm it had been the last time we hiked these trails.

We walked through open grasslands, dense lush greenery, sparse conifer forest and coastal bluffs. Each new rise of hill presented a new ecosystem, a new feel to the trail, until at last we emerged to a view of the sun beginning to sink toward the still, blue-gray ocean.

20131123_Point-Reyes_seagullCoastal creatures welcomed us: seagulls and chickadees had no fear and foraged for crumbs inches from our feet. Water birds fished near the shore. And a family of sea lions played in the surf near the rocky shoreline. A young sea lion was learning to fish, diving to follow his prey and then gliding back up to the surface to bask in the sun’s warmth.

We were reminded (though how could we ever forget?) of the restorative power of the sea and of our hikes.

Living in a bustling city, we need these escapes into nature to stay connected, to stay centered, to stay whole.

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HIKE NOTES
Ease of following designated hike: 9. It’s a fairly simple out and back on large, well-maintained trails.
Best season to hike: Sometime when you can find a combination of cool weather and sunshine. We found a lovely cool, sunny, clear day in November, but it was something of an anomaly.
Our hike time: 2.75 hours.
Solitude: 5.