Getting in a quick escape can feel like a tall order, but Point Reyes never comes up short. Refresh and rejuvenate with any one (or all three!) of these Point Reyes pleasures.
Nearly 15 miles long and about 1 mile wide, Tomales Bay is a finger-shaped waterway burbling with wildlife. Get in the thick of it on a two-hour morning kayak tour with Blue Waters Kayaking. Starting from the Inverness put-in, paddle the western shore over undulating ribbons of thick eel grass, staying on the lookout for lion's mane and moon jellyfish, as well as elusive bat rays. Get up close to granite cliffs cloaked in curious orange algae, and spot Spanish moss—also known as old-man's beard—wisping from the trees. Osprey fly overhead as you glide past Shell Beach, an occasional hangout for great blue herons and snowy egrets. Continue to Pebble Beach where you'll turn around and begin the return journey, this time with views of fist-shaped Black Mountain, and even the eastern peak of Mount Tam. Dippity-doo-ahhhhhs.
Blue Waters Kayaking, 12938 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness; 415-669-2600. The Inverness morning paddle is $68 per person. Kayak rentals without a guided tour are available starting at $45 for a two-hour rental.
Recipe for a sizzling barbecue spot: abundant grilling sites, great views, hiking trails, and a warm swim-friendly waterfront. Heart's Desire Beach in Tomales Bay State Park delivers the goods. There are a few prime picnic sites right on the sand, but just a couple of minutes up the Johnstone Trail is a secluded grilling nirvana: a dozen picnic tables and barbecues overlooking Tomales Bay. Light the charcoal and watch kayakers paddle by as plumes of barbecue smoke tempt your appetite. Later, work off your feast with a half-mile stroll on Johnstone Trail to nearby Pebble Beach, or just relax while basking in the scent of surrounding pine trees. Whatever your heart desires.
There is an $8 entrance fee to Tomales Bay State Park. Upon driving in, follow the signs to the picnic area, which is dog-friendly. Or, from the beach, walk the Johnstone Trail south for a couple of minutes to reach the picnic area. The beach and Johnstone Trail do not allow dogs.
Long, sublime, and slim on crowds, Santa Maria Beach is a sweet south-facing haven easily accessed by pedaling 3-miles (one-way) on the wide Coast Trail, one of the few bike-friendly trails in Point Reyes. Bring your own two-wheeler or rent one from Point Reyes Outdoors. Roll through forest for the first 2 miles before popping out at the far eastern side of Limantour Beach. Keep cruising past windswept dunes as the ocean comes into full view. At Coast Camp, lock up your bike or walk it down to Santa Maria Beach. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes in the sand. When you're ready, bike back the way you came. Let the good times roll!
TIP: Hikers can access Santa Maria Beach via a shorter approach (2 miles) on the Laguna and Firelane trails. No bicycles on these trails.
The bike-friendly Coast Trail starts at Coast trailhead, just before the Point Reyes Hostel. Visit Point Reyes National Seashore Web site for a map and directions. The hiking-only Laguna Trail and trailhead is just past the hostel. No dogs.
Fire-leaping, mud-crawling, beer-drinking, and 12 obstacles from hell… Warriors unite! America's most insane race is landing in Northern California for the first time on Oct. 30. The Warrior Dash is a 3.5-mile running event and obstacle course on extreme terrain. Warriors will conquer intense challenges like running over fire, crawling through a mud pit under barbed wire, and climbing cargo structures. At the finish line be greeted with live music, a pint of beer and a furry warrior helmet. Feast on some turkey legs (barbaric!) and watch or join the tug-of-war and ax-throwing lessons. This event is gonna sell out—so sign up today at a discount for what may be the craziest day of your life. Are you a warrior?
TIP: Save $20 by signing up for the NorCal Warrior Dash today!