Many of us have been blessed to go on hikes that take your breath away, and not just because your exhausted. The type of hike that incorporates many different sensory and visual experiences into one. Just such a hike can be found in Marin County California near the small town of Bolinas just on the other side of Stinson Beach.
Before you start your journey, stop at the Mill Valley Market and fuel up with their custom created hand crafted sandwiches and beverages. Trust me, this is worth the detour.
The trail is called the Palomarin trail. To get there, when you're in Marin County, take exit 445 for CA-1 toward Stinson Beach. Keep right at the fork and follow the signs for CA-1 N/Stinson Beach/Muir Woods/Mt. Tamalpais.
Drive past Stinson Beach and turn left at Bolinas/Fairfax Rd/ Bolinas Rd. Turn left onto Olema Bolinas Rd. Then turn right onto Mesa Rd. 4.6 miles and then past the bird observatory and the Coast Guard Station turn left and there you will see the Palomarin Trailhead.
Park in the parking lot and begin the journey (the hike is 4.5 miles in so this is not for the weak of heart.) As you disembark from the parking lot you'll be walking through a grove of 150 foot Eucalyptus trees. The aroma from the leaves is therapeutic as is the sound from the waves crashing against the cliffs below. The spectacle includes the Pacific Ocean, Point Reyes, and the flora and fauna all around you.
Proceed up a slight incline and at the crest of the hill you'll stop to catch your breath and then, just over the hill on the left side of the trail are two perfectly formed ponds. The ponds are covered with lily pads exhibiting white flowers giving off a scent somewhere between lemon and Cherry 7-up. Bull Frogs blurt out a symphony of bass notes in a perfect staccato beat bringing the backbone to the treble calls from the Long-billed Curlew, Savannah Sparrow, and Swainson's Thrush. Each dynamic interlude brings butterflies and bees diving for sustenance from the bevy of flowers around and in the pond.
2.5 miles in and you arrive at your picnic destination, Bass Lake. There are picnic tables and a fantastic view of the water. The very unique part of this hike (especially in the Bay Area) is that you can swim in Bass Lake. So, break out the sandwiches, drink the beverages, then wait a little bit before swimming in the cool/refreshing water created by an underground tributary, rain, and the runoff of water from Mount Tamalpais.
Oh no... you're not done yet. The best is yet to come! Continue the hike just a little farther and you will see on the left Pelican Lake. The view is captivating as you look from a bluff down upon the lake. The topography of the land around the lake looking westward reveals the parting of land in the form of a V. Through the V you see the Pacific Ocean and looking back to the lake you see 10-20 Pelicans forming a bird barge in the center of the lake, hence the name, "Pelican Lake".
Then, you hike a little farther through a canopy of black berries and honeysuckle coming to the edge of a mini cliff. Looking down there are pools and waterfalls, the visual is stunning. Hike down a treacherous loose dirt incline and you have arrived at Alamere Falls. This is a rare "tidefall", a waterfall that flows directly into the Pacific Ocean. The waterfall looks suspending in air as it cascades over the cliff, onto the beach, and into the Pacific Ocean.
I am sharing this magical place because life is a gift and nature brings out the best in all of us. We need all the beauty in our lives to remind us how important it is to take in the simple things in life that make us stop and enjoy living in the moment.
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