California Cycling: In and Around Pt Reyes National Seashore

Posted By: Pierre Campana-Jourda | Dec. 5 2012

Cycling in and around Pt Reyes Station and Pt Reyes National Seashore is quite the nature lover’s dream. The climate, terrain and ambiance feels like a completely different world from the traditional wine country of Napa and Sonoma.
If you take a day to explore this area biking, hiking, and kayaking are all great choices. Of course, just hanging out in small-town Marin County is always an option. The area is famed for its dairy herds, artisan cheeses and oysters. Downtown Pt. Reyes Station offers something for everyone with its unique shops, bookstores, galleries and eateries.

The Cowgirl Creamery in Pt. Reyes Station is a unique visit. Cheesemongers will guide you through a tasting of the house-made and other imported cheeses. On Fridays, they offer a 60-minute tour that includes history, a curd-making demonstration, and a guided tasting of all of the Cowgirl Creamery cheeses. Reservations are required. Their take-away deli offers you the perfect selection of breads, cheeses, salads and sandwiches to plan your day’s picnic fare.
A sit-down meal at Osteria Stellina along Hwy 1 (Main Street) is also an option for a late lunch or dinner. They offer a farm fresh menu they call “Pt. Reyes Italian”, showcasing the bounty of the region. And to get you going on your adventure for the day, stop by Toby’s Coffee Bar also on Main Street for your fix of great coffee and tea.


Your day’s adventure: Take a gentle bike ride up Tomales Sound or head over the hills to the Point Reyes Lighthouse along Sir Frances Drake Boulevard. These roads lead nowhere except to remote farms, quiet beaches and coves – on a weekday, the through traffic should be minimal. While the terrain is relatively gently, be prepared for changing temperatures and wind. A visit to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse will be the highlight of this ride. Established in 1870, the lighthouse warned mariners of danger for more than 100 years. It is located at the western-most point of the Pt. Reyes Headlands. The Visitor Center has a bookstore, includes historic photographs that depict the life of a lighthouse keeper and showcase shipwrecks of the era. There is also a local bird display to help you identify the birds you see just off the cliffs.

The true test of adventure comes with the 308 steps you must descend down the cliff to reach the lighthouse itself. Of course, what goes down, must come up and tackling the climb on the return might take the spring from your step! There are rest points along the climb to encourage you to catch your breath and take in the surrounding sights. Even on a foggy day, the views are spectacular and awe inspiring. The lighthouse Visitor Center is open Thursday through Monday from 10AM to 4:30PM and closed on December 25.

The hiking in the area is also great with the whole of the 150 miles (240 kilometers) of Point Reyes National Seashore to explore. A fantastic take-off point would be the Bear Valley Visitor Center. You can ride your bike from town (Sir Frances Drake Blvd to Bear Valley Rd) and park at the entrance of the main building. The Visitor Center provides an orientation of the park’s roads, trails, and human and natural history with various exhibits. The trail maps and updates will allow you to select the hike that best fits your physical and time limitations. Estuaries, windswept beaches, coastal scrub grasslands, salt and freshwater marshes, and coniferous forests create a haven of unspoiled and undeveloped coastline waiting await your visit.

If you’re kayaking you’ll likely take a guided trip on Tomales Bay or into one of the Pacific coast bays (outfitters in Pt. Reyes Station and along Hwy 1 in Marshall). Tomales Bay is the largest unspoiled coastal embayment on the coast of California.

The bay is bounded largely on the west by the Point Reyes National Seashore. You’ll see abundant birds and sea life. Do enjoy responsibly, as the Seashore faces the challenge of not only preserving the pristine shorelines of Tomales Bay and assisting in protecting clean water, but also providing recreational opportunities for the public.

More adventure-packed days await on your LifeCycle Adventures custom cycling vacation. Come out and ride with us!