|Hiking the Estero Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore|
From the visitor's center its another 20 to 30 minute drive to the Estero trail head. Here are the directions if you are interested in checking it out:
From the visitor's center head north on Bear Valley Trail for 0.2 mile to Bear Valley Road. Turn left on Bear Valley road and go 1.7 miles to Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Turn left onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd. and go 7.6 miles. Then take a left at the "Estero Trail" sign and drive 1 more mile to the trail head.
Because we set out with a very adjustable plan, I'll break up the trail description into segments as we added to the hike.
Estero Trail Hike, Part 1 - Estero Trail Head to Sunset Beach
Length: 4.45 miles
Start and End Elevations: 153' - 0'
Max Elevation: 190'
|Monterey Pine Forest at mile 0.65|
|Bridge at Home Bay at mile 1.2|
|Hiking up Drake's Headland|
|The Sunset Beach Trail as it drops to Drake's Estero|
|Arturo faces down the cows|
|Finding our way through the grass to Sunset Beach|
Hiking along Sunset Beach to the Point
You can follow the "beach" southwest along the edge of the Estero another half mile or so to a rocky point with views of Limantour Spit, Drakes Beach, Drakes Estero, Estero de Limatour, and the Pacific Ocean. At low tide you may be able continue around the point a bit further. We didn't as we had a lot more hiking that we wanted to do and didn't feel like getting cut off by the tides.
View from the Point
Estero Trail Hike, Part 2 - Sunset Beach to Drakes Head
Length: 4 miles
Start and End Elevations: 0' - 148'
Max Elevation: 243'
At this point the trail just seems to take off across the cow fields. In 0.25 miles you reach a cattle tank where you must head left. It's a little confusing here because there are cow trails heading off in many other directions. Most intersections like this were marked with arrows, but this one seemed a bit fuzzy. Following the cattle fence and the arrows for another 0.5 miles will bring you to the Drakes Head Trail. Note here that the sign pointing to Drake's Head was easy to miss as it was obscured by tall grass and facing the other way.
|Wild Flowers on the Drake's Head Trail|
|View of Limantour Split, Estero de Limantour, and Limantour Beach from atop Drake's Head.|
Snacks, snaps and naps were in order.
Estero Trail, Part 3 - Drake's Head to the Estero Trail Head via White Gate Trail
Length: Approx. 5.5 miles
Start and End Elevation: 148' - 153'
Max Elevation: Unknown
In any case we hiked back the 1.5 miles along the Drake's Head trail to the Estero Trail then turned right. Another 0.7 mile brought us to the White Gate Trail. At this point we made another mistake, instead of following the White Gate Trail along the west side of the lagoon, we ended up following one of the cattle trails up the hill to the north. We just followed the contours and cow paths north until we hit the Estero Trail Road again (keeping the lagoon and the White Gate Trail to our right).
|Trail marker along the Estero Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore|
|Hiking Cross Country with the Estero de Limantour behind us|
For a lot more photos follow the link below to the slide show:
|Estero Trail Hike, Point Reyes National Seashore|
And here's a link to Arturo's Slide show: https://picasaweb.google.com/acrespo/PointReyesEsteroTrail