Stewart Point
Firtop
Point Reyes P500
Peak 677ft P300
Peak 540ft

Sat, Sep 22, 2018
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profiles: 1 2

The day after I'd dropped Jackie off at school I was in a bit of a funk, feeling like I'd lost my summer climbing buddy and didn't quite know what to do with myself. I let those emotions stew for the day, without doing anything in particular that was productive, then decided on something for the next day. I headed up to Point Reyes National Seashore to tag a handful of minor summits I'd neglected in the past. This part of the state would be cool since it was near the coast, while other parts of the state I considered had much warmer temps. Though the distance isn't all that much, the driving takes more than two hours thanks to the windy nature of the backroads in Marin County. I didn't leave particularly early in the morning since it was a Saturday without rush hour, consequently it was well after 9a before I was ready for the first hike.

Stewart Point

This named point has little prominence and sits at the far southern end of the park, above the sleepy ocean town of Bolinas. Mesa Rd is paved nearly to the start of the Ridge Trail, the last 100yds on good gravel. Just to the west of the road is a large US Coast Guard installation with dozens of antennae, almost all different, perhaps some sort of antenna testing site. Mesa Rd continues another mile or so to a trailhead for a cool trail that goes to the Alamere Falls - I'll have to do that hike some day. The road is signed for No Parking on one side, but not so the other. I parked in front of the barely-noticeable Ridge Trail that starts up from the road. The trail is nicely maintained by weedwhacker to keep off offending encroachment. With a pervasive fog environment, the area is quite lush with temperate rainforest conditions in many places. After about 3/4mi, the trail takes a turn to the northwest, and it is here that an unsigned use trail forks to the southeast. The use trail passes through an open gate and runs along a slightly descending ridgeline, some open areas, some forest. As one nears Stewart Point, an old barbed-wire fence can be seen on the left, in poor condition with many breaches. On the other side of the fence is a good dirt road and private property that appears to belong to a hunting club of some sort, though at the time I thought it was part of the USCG installation. There are two points vying for the highpoint of Stewart Point. The one to the southeast is lower by 5-10ft, the higher one to the northwest has an old telecom installation. There are several high perches, about 30ft off the ground atop telephone poles. These appear to be used as blinds for deer hunting. I climbed one of these for the sport of it, descending just in time as an ATV was coming down the road. I considered ducking into the thorny brush but my blue shirt would have been easy to spot. So I walked out to the road and waited for the ATV to drive by. An elderly gentleman with a stern face came driving up to a stop, dragging a pine branch behind him (later I figured this was to "reset" the deer tracks on the dirt road). He was rather upset to find me, wondering why I didn't pay attention to the No Trespassing signs at the start of the road. I explained that I hadn't come up that way, but through the dilapidated fence where there are no signs. He lightened up after that, realizing I might not have known it was private property. I apologized and left back through one of the gaps in the fence. Fog prevented any views from this one, but they probably wouldn't have been so good anyway due to trees.

Firtop

I drove back out through Bolinas, then north on SR1 to Five Brooks. The Five Brooks Ranch is located here, a popular place to rent horses, along with the Five Brooks Trailhead, popular with equestrians, less so with hikers and mountain bikers. I followed a route I'd grabbed from PB, going up the Greenpicker Trail and down the Stewart Trail. The former is a dusty single-track, the other a less dusty fire road. Both climb up through forested slopes to the high ridge above the San Andreas Rift Zone. As others have pointed out, the summit is flat, forested, covered in a thorny understory and a disappointment. I thrashed about in the brush to pay my dues, but there's really no need to do so. The Park Service has a nice sign at the trail junction nearby that calls it out as Firtop. I jogged most of the Stewart Trail back down to the TH, walking the flatter spots. Unlike the Greenpicker Trail there are some views through the trees, but these are weak at best, even without the fog.

Point Reyes

Point Reyes is the spit of land that sticks out into the Pacific Ocean, further west than the largest of the Farallon Islands. There is a lighthouse located at the very tip with the 562-foot highpoint found a short distance to the east. The road to reach it from Tomales Bay is long and windy with crappy pavement for the last several miles. The road has numerous junctions to the various public beaches that can be accessed from it, but most of the land is locked up in the various "historical" ranches that still operate here. The beaches and bluffs are impressive, though, and a fine sight if one is treated to an unusual sunny day. The fog and wind are pervasive here, today being no different. At least it wasn't raining, and there were some limited views to the ocean below. There were a dozen park signs warning that the lighthouse is closed, reason not given. Upon reaching the end, one finds it is undergoing renovation, fenced off at the parking lot. Unfortunately, the highpoint is within the closed area, but it doesn't seem that too many people pay much attention. After watching numerous other folks pass through the gate to walk the road to the lighthouse, I followed suit, but only as far as the highpoint. There was a benchmark and weak views, so I didn't stay more than a few seconds to take some crappy pictures before returning.

Peak 677ft / Peak 540ft

Both of these unnamed summits are found along Tomales Point, the spit of land running northwest between the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay. Another long drive leads to the Pierce Point Ranch at the end of the road. Peak 677ft is found about a mile before reaching the end of the road, just to the northeast. I parked at the edge of the road, careful to move off the pavement, then made a short cross-country hike up the low hill to the summit. The vegetation is low, wind-swept stuff, easy to walk through. A 3-foot high concrete pillar holds a USGS VABM. The fog blowing in from the west dissipated before reaching this hill, leaving views of Tomales Bay to the east, but blocking those to the ocean. Peak 540ft is found about 1/3 of the way between the Tomales Point TH and Tomales Point at the very tip of the peninsula. Starting from the Pierce Point Ranch, the hike is about 4.5mi one-way. The fog here was more persistent, leaving the trail windy and cold. This didn't seem to dissuade too many of the folks that come here to either hike the trail to Tomales Point or take another, shorter trail to McClures Beach. This spit of land is home to a good-sized herd of tule elk that were reintroduced back in 1978 after being obliterated in the late 1800s. These can be seen easily from the trail, grouped in smaller numbers during the rutting season when males gather their harems for exclusive mating privileges. The highpoint is found in a collection of rocks on the west side of the trail. PB has another point listed, just off the trail near the BM labeled with a 535-foot elevation, about 1/3mi further north than the higher point. I visited both places, finding the benchmark, a lone elk, some rocks, lots of fog and called it good. Maybe I'd come back in sunnier conditions for the full walk out to end of the trail. On my way back I toured the Pierce Point Ranch, with helpful signs describing the various buildings and their uses back in the day before it was purchased by the Park Service. It was 4p by the time I finished up, with another 2.5hrs of driving to get me home.Not a lot of hiking today, but fairly scenic country and it did wonders to help me get out of my funk...

Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Mon Sep 24 07:59:39 2018
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: snwbord@hotmail.com