National Parks


Sometimes you need a quick, easy hike with great views and an excuse to go to Sol Food for dinner. The Tennessee Valley trail has become our go-to for these situations.

We needed some time out of the city, but we didn’t have time for a full day hike, so we made our way across the Golden Gate Bridge and, after checking to make sure traffic on Hwy 1 wasn’t too horrible, wound our way through Marin neighborhoods to the Tennessee Valley trailhead.

IMG_1028

(more…)

First of all, yes, we know, we’ve been gone from the interwebs for far too long. Don’t worry, we’ve still been hiking. We just haven’t been so good about chronicling our hikes.

But we tried something new last weekend that we want to tell you about.

We did our first trail run.

That’s right, your CityGirls are now officially among those crazy people who go running on hiking trails. It all started when we decided to run a half marathon. Did we consider ourselves runners when we made this decision? no. Had we ever run a race before? well, AM has, but T-bell has not. Had we ever run more than 5 miles, much less 10 or 13? ummm…

(more…)

Took a stroll through the eucalyptus and pine scrub of the Presidio after work today.

Chancing upon a patch of sun-ripened, summer sweet blackberries is more than enough reward for the quick pace up the hill. The patch has been picked over in spots easy to reach from the trail. I’m not the only one who can’t resist berries right off the vine.

But if you know where to look behind the branches and under the leaves, there are ripe, juicy berries waiting still.

(more…)

wood-pattern

Check out the great artwork bark beetles did in this fallen log!

Stay tuned, and we’ll tell you all about our great hike down the Peninsula with the Woodswoman.

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

Our good friend TheSailor came to visit just after the new year and wanted a hike to the ocean that wasn’t too hilly. We didn’t have to think too far back for just the right trail, so off we went to Point Reyes to revisit the Bear Valley trail and Arch Rock.

20140103_map

(more…)

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.

20131123_Point-Reyes_sun-and-sea

(more…)

Our friend S was dog-sitting for the weekend, and we joined her and her two charges for a romp at Fort Funston.

beach

The dogs were ever so excited to go to the beach. They practically bowled us over when we showed up at their house and would not sit still the whole car ride to Fort Funston. In fact, when we hit the coast and turned on to the Great Highway, both dogs started whining like the whole world was on fire. But no, they were just that excited.

down-to-the-beach

Fort Funston, for those who haven’t been, is THE doggy beach in San Francisco and it was teeming with pups on this sunny holiday. There were dogs chasing balls on the bluffs, dogs slurping water from the numerous doggy bowls that surrounded each water fountain, dogs sniffing each others’ butts… it was quite the canine social scene.

We made our way down onto the beach itself, and the two puppers could no longer contain themselves they were so excited. The little pup insisted we throw the ball for her, while the larger pup beelined for the water.

pupper-on-the-move

We picked up a couple doggy friends along the way, including a corgi who was just as excited to play fetch as the little pup. The larger pup, who isn’t really that large, decided he only wanted to hang with the big dogs (even though they were twice his size).

good-dog

After all the fun and games, we took home two tired pups.

One was completely sand-logged from running into the waves and then rolling around in the sand and both were oh so happy and exhausted.

 

Our good friend TheSailor spent the month of July sailing from Hawai’i to California aboard the tall ship Robert C. Seamans.

Today, the ship sailed into San Francisco Bay through the Golden Gate, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. We packed a picnic and some warm clothes and went to watch the ship come in.

sailing-ship

 

Such a fancy, pretty ship. Just don’t run into the bridge now! (Yes, it’s foggy, but not that foggy.)

sailing-ship-2

We were heading up to Fairfax to see some friends, so we figured we’d get a bit of a nature fix while we were in Marin.

We kept driving on Sir Francis Drake Blvd past Fairfax to where it ends at Point Reyes Station, then continued west into Point Reyes National Seashore.

20130420_Point-Reyes

The Seashore is beautiful and quite big: Limantour Beach, our destination, was more than 15 miles from where we entered the park. But it was a lovely day for a drive, and we had some great glimpses of the ocean between the hills along the way.

(more…)

The hiking book: Hiking the San Francisco Bay Area (Falcon Guides)
The distance: 10.2 miles
The CityGirls rating: 7

Craving ocean and an escape from the city, we braved holiday-weekend crowds at Point Reyes National Seashore to hike Tomales Point. The weather was perfect as we drove up through Marin—a warm, sunny, spring-like day that reminds us just how lucky we are to live in the Bay Area.

Point Reyes National Seashore is a diffuse park with discrete sections of trails. We started at Pierce Point Ranch, an historic cattle ranch up near the tip of the park. While Piece Point Ranch is no longer operational, we passed a handful of other ranches, established in the late 1800s, that are still in operation.

20130216_Pierce-Ranch

The hike up Tomales Point is pretty much a straight shot from the ranch. The trail begins by heading up to the top of the bluffs along the ocean’s edge, with an achingly beautiful view of the bright blue sky, the turquoise ocean, and the mottled green hills.

20130216_cliffs

As we got closer to the edge of the bluff, we could smell the salt and hear the surf against the rocks below. There’s something about sea air that invigorates and rejuvenates, and we soaked it in.

The middle part of the trail, once it left the edge of the bluff was much less exciting and clogged with other hikers, but we continued on, and the payoff was well worth it.

20130216_end-of-the-world

We took the trail all the way out to the tip of Tomales Bluff, and it felt like the ends of the earth, with waves crashing, birds circling, wind whipping by, and the ocean stretching out endlessly to the west. There were a bunch of other people there, but the grandeur of the rocks and the waves eclipsed any feelings of crowding.

20130216_Tomales-Bluff-1

It was beautiful and severe and wild and good for the soul.

birdsThe hiking book said this was a good trail for wildlife spotting, and spot wildlife we did. As soon as we got out on the bluff at the beginning of the hike, we saw a red tailed hawk darting and flitting above the scrub.

We often see vultures circling overhead when we go hiking, but hawk sightings are much more rare. This one flew along beside us and the beside the trail for a while, and we even saw it stoop and dive.

Out at the end of the Point we saw a whole bunch of shore birds sitting on the rocks, cleaning in the tidepools, and flying arcs along the bluffs.

The most exciting of these was the black oystercatcher, which has a bright orange beak. Really, what’s better than a bright orange beak?

Along with the oystercatcher, we saw cormorants and two species of gulls.

Tomales Point is also known for its population of tule elk, a subspecies endemic to northern California. The name tule elk comes from the marsh plant tule, on which the elk feed.

Tule elk were thought to be extinct in 1870s, when a small herd (less than 10!) were found near San Luis Obispo. The owner of the land where these elk were found protected them, and the population rebounded, leading to the need to resettle the elk elsewhere in California.

We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the elk, and as we hiked out to the point, we saw a couple herds of them on the hills in the distance.

On the way back we got an even better view, as the fog rolled in and the elk became less shy. We saw one herd that was just on the other side of a low rise from the trail—we could see their antlers and ears poking up behind the scrub. Farther along the trail, we came across another herd grazing not more than 50 feet off the side of the trail!

20130216_Tulle-Elk

 

HIKE NOTES
Ease of following designated hike: 10. There’s just the one trail from the ranch out to the end of the Point.
Best season to hike: Spring, fall, or spring-like days in mid-February. Definitely go when it’s clear.
Our hike time: 3.75 hours.
Solitude: 3. There were a couple spots early in the hike where we had the place to ourselves, but most of it was super crowded.

Next Page »