As fall settles in and the hours of light grow shorter they also grow more precious. The slant of the fall sun and the early rains give everything in the natural world a sparkle. That slanted light makes me take a deep breath of comfort, breathing in the season.
This is one of my favorite times to hike in the park. Hikes are necessarily shorter and more intense, just like the light. One of my favorite hikes for this time of the year is a loop starting at the Sky Trail parking lot off Limantour Road.
Start fairly early to use every moment of daylight. Follow the trail going downhill parallel to the road. Shortly cross the road and pick up the Bayview Trail. This section of trail is a bit like walking in an enchanted forest with changing glimpses of Drake’s Bay. The trail is lined with Bishop Pines that are exactly the same age, grown up after the Point Reyes fire. The Bishop pine is a fire species whose cones only release seeds in the intense heat caused by a fire, although you can sometimes hear them popping open during a heat wave.
At the end of the Bayview trail, take Muddy Hollow Road, cross Limantour road and continue on the road past the youth hostel to Clem Miller Environmental Center. This is a good place to stop and eat your lunch. Be sure to bring some of those bitingly crisp fall apples to go with the red leaves of the poison oak thickets.
From the Environmental Center pick up the Laguna trail to take you back to your car. This is another sweet trail, winding gently uphill through mixed forest and meadows with more glimpses of the ocean. Let the hill slow your steps and savor all of the subtle fall colors, admire the late afternoon light, look for some early mushrooms, listen to the sound of your own breath, feel the mist or sun on your face. This hike makes me feel deeply grateful for the intricate beauty of this land.
Linda, Front Desk Clerk