Category Archives: trails|bay area

Presidio: Inspiration Point – Golden Gate Bridge Loop

So far, Brett’s intro to Bay Area trail running had taken me to the Marin Headlands and Pt. Reyes National Seashore — outstanding areas in which to run and hike, with great scenery, terrain and courses. An area that might be overlooked by a visiting trail runner is the Presidio. That’s where we were running this morning.

Warm weather had chased the fog away. Saturday, the high temp at SFO was 89 degrees, and today the high was forecast to be in the 90s. So it wasn’t a big surprise that at 7:30, the temp was already near 70 when we descended the stairs at Inspiration Point. (SFO would set a record high of 93 later in the day.)

Brett at the start of the East Battery Trail on our Presidio loop trail run.
Our loop started on the Ecology Trail and then worked down through the Main Post, under the 101, across Crissy Marsh, and onto the Golden Gate Promenade (Bay Trail). From the Promenade there were iconic views of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, Marin, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Just past the Warming Hut we turned up the East Battery Trail stairs, and then continued west, under the southern abutments of the bridge.

Here we followed the Coastal Trail past several 100+ year old defense batteries, to another nice overlook of the Golden Gate. After clambering up on one of the battlements, we headed east to Fort Scott and picked up the Bay Area Ridge Trail. This segment took us through the Presidio’s trademark pine, cypress and eucalyptus forest to the high point of the course near Rob Hill Campground, then along the Presidio Golf Course, and finally down past Andy Goldsworthy’s cypress spire to the car. From the point of view of this out-of-towner, the course was spectacular, and it’s hard to imagine an urban run with more variety!

Our particular loop worked out to about 5.5 miles, with an elevation gain/loss of about 450 ft. Here’s a Presidio Trust map of Presidio Trails and Overlooks (PDF), a NPS Presidio Map, and a Cesium browser View of a GPS trace of our loop.

I had a great time in San Francisco, and can’t wait to get back and see more… Thanks Brett & Amanda!

Point Reyes: Sky Trail Keyhole Loop

Sprawling eucalyptus on the Coast Trail, near the Sky Trail junction, in Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

Like an Ent, of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, the huge tree hummed softly. We were on the Coast Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore, near Kelham Beach, about halfway into a 14.5 mile hike/run. We’d paused under the sprawling limbs of the Tasmanian blue gum to enjoy its shade and eat a quick snack.

Pt. Resistance and Pt. Reyes from the Sky Trail, near its junction with the Coast Trail.
Rather than the singing of an Ent,  the resonating buzz was from the wing-beats of many thousands of bees, foraging in the tree. But, it was certainly the kind of day an Ent would relish. Instead of fog and chill gales, the day was warm, with just enough of a breeze to tickle a leaf. Below the bluff, a lazy ocean lapped at the shore, barely mustering enough strength to generate an occasional wave.

Awed by the size of the tree, Brett, Amanda and I joined hands to create a crude measuring tape, but our combined reach only encircled about half of the trunk. We estimated its girth at chest height to be about 30 ft! An oak tree this size would be ancient — perhaps several hundred to a 1000 years old. But, eucalyptus followed the Gold Rush into California, and the tree could be no older than about 150 years!

It was comfortable in the shade of the tree, and we were not in a rush to get back on the trail. Near record high temperatures had been forecast, and the expected 70-80 degree temps along the coast and 90-100 degree temps inland seemed about right.

Lush Douglas fir forest along the Sky Trail in Pt. Reyes National Seashore.
We’d started at the Sky trailhead on Limantour Road, and followed the Sky Trail up through lush Douglas fir forest, past Sky Camp, to the Woodward Valley Trail. Here, at an impossibly green meadow, we had turned off the Sky Trail, and followed the Woodward Valley Trail down the shoulder of the ridge to its junction with the Coast Trail.

Now we had to get that elevation back. Nearby a hummingbird dashed and darted among the peach colored monnkeyflowers, and lodged a territorial complaint as we returned to his trail. In a couple of minutes we turned sharply left onto the Sky Trail and began the steep climb back up the hill.

Here’s a NPS map of Pt. Reyes (PDF) and Cesium browser View of a GPS trace of our route.

Tomorrow, a loop through the Presidio and under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Marin Headlands: Bobcat – Miwok Loop

View toward San Francisco from the Miwok Trail in the Marin Headlands.

Drove up to San Francisco to visit Brett & Amanda and sample a few of the Bay Area’s excellent trails.

Within an hour of arriving in the city we were across the Golden Gate, and running up the Bobcat Trail in the Marin Headlands. The Bobcat – Miwok loop was the first of three courses we were planning to do over the weekend.

Blue-eyed grass along the Bobcat Trail in the Marin Headlands.
This course was an approximately six mile “after work” loop around the Gerbode Valley, with an elevation gain/loss of a little over 1000 ft. My legs were still a little tired from recent runs and I was happy to be doing the loop in the easier counterclockwise direction — up Bobcat and down Miwok. Except for a short segment of single track around the east side of an FAA beacon, the course is entirely on dirt roads. Bobcat sightings are relatively common on this circuit, and we hoped we might spot one.

In the city it was windy and cool, and I had grabbed a long-sleeve shirt for the run. But short sleeves would have been the better call. Here there was almost no wind, and the south facing valley was surprisingly warm — a hint of the record-breaking weather to come. Skies were mostly clear, and views extended south to the city, east across the Bay to Mt. Diablo, and north to Mt. Tamalpais.

Here’s a NPS Marin Headlands Trail Map (PDF) and a Cesium browser View of a GPS trace of our route.

Looking to do a longer run? Numerous variations and trail link-ups are possible. The course of the Miwok 100K winds through here and continues north past Mt. Tam to Bolinas Ridge, descending to a turnaround point at Hwy 1 about 5 miles south of Olema. Cross the Shoreline Highway, and you’re in Pt. Reyes National Seashore. (Bolinas Ridge fire road continues north to Sir Francis Drake Blvd. about a mile east of Olema.)

Tomorrow the Sky Trail at Pt. Reyes… but we are going to drive there.