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Posts Tagged ‘Point Reyes National Seashore’

Weekend Wondering

Posted by Jody on August 17, 2013

McClures Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Northern California

McClures Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Northern California

Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.

~Saint Augustine


Posted in Northern California Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Happy Hiking to Abbotts Lagoon Beach!

Posted by Jody on March 13, 2013

Abbotts Lagoon, Point Reyes National Seashore

Abbotts Lagoon, Point Reyes National Seashore

Abbotts Lagoon Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Northern California

The lovely 1 ½ mile walk through coastal vegetation (across a bridge over a small river dividing the two-stage lagoon and traversing soft, shifting sandy hills) might seem a bit more like a hearty (yet low-key) footslog than a “moderate walk.” The unequaled Abbotts Lagoon “trail”  brings hikers through soft, deep sands that seem to slow one down to the bare minimum speed. In this piece of Point Reyes paradise, wayfarers can expect a scenic and unhurried journey!

Trailhead Marker

Trailhead Marker

Greg and I weren’t in any rush on the day we visited! The leisurely pace made it all the easier for us to really take in the spectacular scenery along the diverse trail. Wildflowers abound at Abbots Lagoon, and bird watching is simply unavoidable!  We didn’t actually see very many birds on our January visit, but these lagoons reportedly attract many species of migrating shorebirds in the fall, followed by ducks during the winter months.

If you’re really lucky, you may even spy a peregrine falcon looking for a tasty meal! The sand dunes backing the beach are also home to the threatened western snowy plover. It’s important for visitors to keep an eye out and tread carefully on the sandy beach during their nesting season (spring and early summer).

The Beach at Abbotts Lagoon

The Beach at Abbotts Lagoon

Eventually the path opened up before us to an awe-inspiring panorama of the Pacific Ocean. This varied trail brings happy hikers right to the shores of the Great Beach. The far-reaching Great Beach is actually made up of many sections of sandy shoreline, and the beach at Abbots Lagoon is just one small, beautiful portion of the uninterrupted 11 mile expanse of bluffs, dunes, and natural shoreline.

Greg and I were blown away by the beautiful “sands” we found near Abbotts Lagoon. Sifting through the rich greens, bold reds, and bright yellows of the tiny beach pebbles was an amusing highlight of a lovely walk to a beautiful beach on a warm and sunny winter’s day!

The beach at Abbotts Lagoon

The beach at Abbotts Lagoon

Up, down, out and across; there’s something to see in every direction on the trail to the beach at Abbotts Lagoon!

Happy hiking!


Helpful link: National Park Service/Point Reyes National Seashore

Posted in Beach Birding, Northern California Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Celebrating Labor Day Weekend!

Posted by Jody on August 31, 2012

Kehoe Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” 

~ Ovid, Roman poet (43 BC – 17 AD)

Posted in Northern California Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ice Plants: Not so Cool

Posted by Jody on June 13, 2012

I always thought that the striking, colorful ice plants that grow so profusely along the dunes and on the rocky bluffs of California’s Pacific coastline were native to the Golden State. Was I ever wrong!  I do still think they are absolutely striking, but now I know that they are definitely not native. In fact, ice plants (Carpobrotus edulis) were intentionally brought to California from South Africa in the early 1900s to stabilize the coastal sands and help control erosion.

Well, you know what they say about the “best laid plans.”  They often go awry.

The Invasive Ice Plant, North Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Ice plants are  mat-forming perennials.  They have very thick, triangularly shaped, smooth and fleshy leaves with pretty yellow or pink flowers. Once intended to maintain the stability the coastal dunes, these rapidly spreading, non-native succulents are now recognized as an invasive species. Growing year round, a single ice plant shoot segment can grow up to three feet in one year, threatening the delicate ecosystem and unique environment of California’s coastal dunes.

Ice Plants on the Dunes of North Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

The colorful blankets of ice plants squeeze out indigenous plants, and native dune vegetation has to compete for nutrients, space, water and sunlight. In some areas ice plants have completely taken over, preventing  the native flora from thriving and slowing the natural process of dune migration.

As the late, great Johnny Carson used to say, “I did not know that.”

Beautiful North Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

So now, at Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California, Coastal Dune Habitat Restoration Projects are taking place to remove both the non-native invasive European beachgrass and the ice plant from coastal dune habitats to “restore natural dune processes and function.”  Would you like to know more? There is a very thorough article on the National Park Service website entitled “Coastal Dune Habitat Restoration Project: Why is Dune Restoration Important?” It is long, but it covers everything you might want to know on the topic, and so much more. It’s very interesting reading!

By golly, ya really do learn something new everyday!

Suggestions? Tips? Comments?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment space below!

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Flora, Northern California Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Whale Watching (or not), Point Reyes Lighthouse, California

Posted by Jody on January 9, 2012

WooooooHoooooo! It’s whale watching season on the Pacific Coast of the United States.

Greg and I were fortunate to spend a few days at Point Reyes National Seashore this past weekend. Point Reyes is just an hour’s scenic drive north of the Bay Area. Unfortunately, on this visit we did not spot any Pacific gray whales. Friday’s seas around the Point Reyes Peninsula were quite choppy and on Saturday, there were only sixteen whale sightings logged by the Park Service. Oh well, better luck next time!

Point Reyes Lighthouse, California (© Jody Diehl)

The Point Reyes Lighthouse, located on the western-most point of the Point Reyes Headlands, is an excellent vantage point from which to catch glimpses of the Pacific gray whales during Northern California’s whale migration season, which runs from mid to late December into early May.  According to the National Park Service: “Jutting 16 kilometers (10 miles) into the Pacific Ocean, the headlands of the Point Reyes Peninsula offer one of the finest spots to view the gray whale. The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary provides a 32-kilometer (20-mile) wide ‘highway’ along which the whales cruise; sometimes they travel in the close lane (nearer to shore), and sometimes they travel in the far lane (farther out to sea). The areas around Chimney Rock and the Lighthouse offer some of the best whale watching spots in the park.” (more…)

First Order Fresnel Lens / Point Reyes Lighthouse, California (© Jody Diehl)

The Point Reyes Lighthouse, built in 1870, is a wonderful destination, whale sighting or no.  We were lucky enough to be on site for a ranger-led tour of the lantern room where we were treated to look at the original “first order” Fresnel lens.  The National Park Service states, “Point Reyes is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place on the North American continent. Weeks of fog, especially during the summer months, frequently reduce visibility to hundreds of feet. The Point Reyes Headlands, which jut 10 miles out to sea, pose a threat to each ship entering or leaving San Francisco Bay. The historic Point Reyes Lighthouse warned mariners of danger for more than a hundred years.

“The windiest place on the Pacific Coast”, indeed!  Be sure to dress for the cold and wind, even if you expect beautiful sunny blue skies! It’s quite a trek to the lighthouse, but it’s well worth the effort.

Year after year I stand here
Holding my steady light,
Sending its ray of comfort
Into the darkest night.
    ~from the poem “The Light” by Hattie Vose Hall

*To learn more about the history of the Point Reyes Lighthouse check out the Point Reyes National Seashore site.*

Posted in Lighthouses, Monday Miscellaneous, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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