the open, wildflower-clad wall painting in this room
will inspire a meadow-hunting walk during your stay.
If so, it's hard to beat sampling the aptly-named
Meadow Trail's 1.6 miles, which connect Bear Valley
to the Sky Trail - 1000' elevation gain.
trail is an old ranch road starting up quite vigorously
amidst madrone, bay, and fir trees. In about 1/2
mile (and 400' elevation gain), the walker breaks
out into a beautiful meadow about 100 yards wide
and slanted upward as steeply as the trail itself.
As writer Phil Arnot says: " A fir forest fringes
the meadow offering rest spots for lunch or for
quiet contemplation, having the entire spot all
to oneself." If you wish to continue on, the
forested trail continues another mile (and another
600' or so of elevation), passing huckleberries,
toyons, alders and holly to the Sky Trail. Here
at the ridge junction is a miniature meadow, another
potential stop in soft green grass.
you are feeling ambitious, or exhilarated, at the
prospect of more miles and a loop hike, you can
follow the Sky Trail, here all in woodlands, southward
for 1.1 miles, then fork left onto the Old Pine
Trail, down 1.9 miles to Divide Meadow in Bear Valley.
Another 1.6 miles brings you back to the Bear Valley
Visitor Center - a grand total of 7 miles. One of
the best circular walks in the park!
blue sky seen through the skylights makes us think
of the heavenly views enjoyed from parts of the
ridge-wandering Sky Trail. "The first time
I ever hiked the Sky Trail, I was struck by the
sudden emergence onto open sunlit hills of green
grass sprinkled liberally with wild oats,"
says writer Phil Arnot.
Sky Trail is 5.9 miles long and follows the main
spine of the national seashore lands, averaging
about 1000' above the sea, until descending, at
its southern end, to remote Kelham Beach.
trail's northern terminus starts at a car park on
the Limantour Road. This
gives relatively easy walking access, via side trails,
to the slopes of 1400' high Mount Wittenberg and
many nice picnic spots, including the area around
side trails descend through the douglas fir forest
to Bear Valley, making loop walks possible. Besides
grassy knolls loaded with spring wildflowers, the
trails passes conifers, huckleberries, madrones,
bays, ferns, and toyons during its highlands romp.
Whether you do two miles or double-digits, this
trail has great diversity and is exhilarating.
windows take in a superb view of one wind-sculpted,
easterly arm of Mount Vision - the majestic centerpiece
of the six-mile-long "spine" of the national
seashore's northern section known as the Inverness
From north to south, elevations along the broad
ridge range from 400' on pasture-lined L Ranch Road,
near Tomales Bay State Park, to 1300' at Mount Vision
and Point Reyes Hill, in the middle, then tapering
down to 800' at the top of the Limantour Road.
of the western side of Inverness Ridge burned in
an October 1995 forest fire, burning large sections
of the bishop pine forest. This fire opened up coastal
views on the upper part of the Mt Vision Road as
well as along the three miles of the Inverness Ridge
This trail can be reached from the end of the Mount
Vision Road, elevation 1300' or from the trailhead
along the Limantour Road, elevation 800'. Besides
getting to see the pine forest coming back to life
with vigorous new growth, there are terrific views
and wildflowers galore, including the pretty blue
blossoms of the ceanothus bushes in springtime and
the long-lasting, orange monkeyflowers of summer.
you do just the ridge walk or the 6.5 mile loop
hike, which utilizes the Bucklin, Muddy Hollow,
and Drake's View Trails, as well the ridge trail,
you have a nice walk going for you.
Tacy Dunham: "Views from Inverness Ridge not
only give a bird's eye view of Drakes Bay and the
Point Reyes Headlands, but also spill over the ridge
and include the long, slender Tomales Bay. Looking
eastward are the ridges of West Marin and Mount
St. Helena (Napa) in the distance."
room overlooks the back garden as well as Park Avenue
as it climbs steeply up from the valley floor towards
the hillside neighborhood here in heavily-forested
inn is near the mouth of First Valley Creek, where
the fresh water from springs on Mount Vision's eastern
slopes, joins the salt water of Tomales Bay.
hundreds of years, the Miwok people lived undisturbed
in this abundance of woods, wildlife, and water.
The first vacationers - escapees from the city -
arrived in the 1880s, camping along "Brook
Ness" (as it was called then) and the bayfront.
Houses and other buildings started to be built by
1900. One of the first families to settle, the Shafters,
had ties to Scotland; thus leading to the place
names of community and streets.
Valley is a walker's paradise, whether following
the paved neighborhood lanes or snooping out some
of the footpaths that weave through the local woodlands.
The clear creek is spanned by no less than five
lovely footbridges right here in the village!
an energetic walk into the wilds, take Perth Way
until it turns unpaved (1 mile from #10), then continue
briskly climbing on the right fork's switchbacks
another mile or more up the side of Mount Vision,
with wonderful glimpses of Tomales Bay seen through
the gnarled bishop pines. The other fork is an easier
walk with some nice down-valley views and an osprey
nest or two along the way.
Brock Schreiber: "While strolling in the lovely
Inverness woods,/Where the sun shines bright through
the ferns and the trees,/Be very quiet and then
glance about,/You may see some wood nymphs and fairies
as they come out."
is a little-known gem of a trail just uphill of
the Limantour Estero. (There no longer is a white
gate - no doubt it was a ranch gate years ago -
so we put a commemorative one in our back garden
- visible from your room!) It's just under a mile
long and connects the old Muddy Hollow Road with
the long and winding Estero Trail.
we first walked it, in the springtime lushness of
green grass and wildflowers, we couldn't have come
upon a better picnic spot on the hillside just above
what we will call the White Gate Pond.
1/2-mile-long pond nestles among the gentle hills
of the pre-national seashore ranchlands, sparsely
vegetated yet beguiling. Egrets and herons hunkered
along the water's edge while we rested and the pond
was a shimmering blue teardrop in the fold of the
hills. Vultures circled high above in thermal updrafts.
the White Gate Trail, the heights of Inverness Ridge
loom to the east - a mix of forest and chaparral.
To the south lies the pretty marsh, with its sinuous
creek, at the head of Limantour Estero; then the
loch-like Estero itself. Even a smidge of Limantour
Spit visible beyond that.
closest access to the White Gate Trail is from Muddy
Hollow Trailhead, off the Limantour Road - 2.1 fairly
easy miles along the old Muddy Hollow ranch lane.
Longer, hillier access is about 4.5 miles from Limantour
Beach along the Estero Trail (southern part) or
four miles in along the Estero Trail (northern part)
from the Estero carpark off the Lighthouse Road.
A very nice loop hike of 8.7 miles, starting at
Muddy Hollow or Limantour Beach, takes in the White
Gate Trail at its midpoint. Keep in mind there aren't
many trees in this part of the park - so not much
shade and maybe windy. Then again, it might be still
and foggy. Some short muddy sections in the spring.
Regardless, a great walk at any time of the year!
veteran Phil Arnot: "The Estero region, situated
in the northwest corner of the national seashore,
has no broad beaches, no ocean caves, no waterfalls,
no deep forests or high hills. Yet it is distinctive.
It has sweeping moors reminiscent of Scotland and
visible, abundant wildlife - bobcats, three types
of deer (axis, fallow, blacktail), marsh hawks,
and white pelicans, to name just a few."