Mesmerizing Oceans and Mysterious Lighthouses in Marin County, California
- Enjoy tide pools, spectacular coastlines, redwood forests, sunsets overlooking San Francisco
- Visit Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Marin Headlands, Stinson Beach, Mt. Tamalpais, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
- Participate in National Oceans Day activities
- Accommodations in a private mountain lodge and comfortable hotel
- Most on-trip meals, all on-trip transportation
- Presentations by local naturalists or marine specialists
|Dates||Jun 5–13, 2014|
Ocean, océano, ozean, aigéan, okeaH. Lighthouse, faro, leuchtturm, teach solais, phare.
The first lighthouses along the West Coast were built in the 1850s, shortly after the Gold Rush began. Early light stations may or may not have included a fog signal. To avoid the Bay Area-clinging fog and its lengthily pea soup fingers, vessels navigated the entrance to the Golden Gate by hugging the coast, putting themselves and their cargo in danger of the recalcitrant currents and rocky outcroppings along the ragged California coastline. Light stations and lighthouses evolved from single lights in homeowners’ windows to tall structures that signaled mariners’ great distances from the shore; low-built structures to avoid being obscured by fog and low visibility; and structures painted in contrasting colors, which, along with their unique fog horn wail, made them a distinct landmark. Today, fully automated light towers stand sentinel along the coast to "preserve life and keep cargo from destruction."
Thirty formerly manned lighthouses, each with a unique history, remain along the California coast. Almost 60 of the 72-mile Marin County coastline can be walked on a beach or trail. Join us as we hike along ocean-side cliffs, across sandy beaches, through redwood forests, and see who is who in the tide pools. We will also explore unique lighthouses and experience the ambiance of several ocean-side villas in Marin and San Mateo counties. On World Oceans Day, we may participate in a beach clean-up or service project, attend an outdoor classroom to learn more about the oceans, or join a marine biologist who will reveal secrets about this vast unexplored wilderness and what we can do to protect the oceans.
To best experience the highlights of Marin County, this adventure will combine a mixture of moderately paced hiking with time for taking pictures and enjoying the captivating sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of both Marin and San Mateo counties. Our accommodations will be in a cozy lodge nestled halfway up Mt. Tamalpias in the coastal hills of Marin County and also in a comfortable motel in Half Moon Bay. After a pleasant day hiking and/or exploring a lighthouse/station, we will enjoy a nutritionally robust, healthy dinner and presentation(s) by local naturalists or a round-table discussion about local conservation issues. One afternoon will be left open to allow time to immerse ourselves in the vibrancy of the locale and to experience the hospitality of the local entrepreneurs in a San Mateo county seaside town.
Each day will feature a day hike in a different ecological community. We will spend a day at Point Reyes National Seashore, see the lighthouse, hike along scenic cliffs while listening to the seals, and tour the Visitor Center. We may also explore the town of Point Reyes Station, with time to enjoy the delicacies of the local bakery.
An afternoon adventure will find us hiking through stately redwoods, alongside a stream and waterfall, and across open, rolling hills until we reach Stinson Beach. We may wade in the ocean, hike to a nearby tide pool area, or take a short drive to a hamlet known for its artists and resplendent photo opportunities.
Another day we'll visit the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, visit the Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center, Point Bonita lighthouse, and enjoy scenic vistas across the Bay. Bring your binoculars and your cameras as we'll have plenty of opportunities for photography.
Mid-week we’ll tidy up the lodge and drive to Half-Moon Bay where we’ll visit the Point Montara light station and explore tide pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
With group input we may decide to take a day trip to explore Pigeon Point lighthouse or hike one of the many coastal trails in San Mateo county.
On our last full day, we will enjoy a morning visit to a local bakery, nursery, or sea-side winery. The afternoon will be free to explore unique shops and museums, beach comb, or watch the surfers from the veranda of a local restaurant. For those wishing to enjoy the full moon’s glimmering reflection on the dancing ocean waves, an optional evening stroll will be offered.
The following morning we will rise with the sun, pack the vans, grab a cup o' jo, and drive back to San Francisco International Airport. Please do not make flight reservations before consulting with the leader. If participants would like to extend their stay in Marin or San Mateo county, the trip leader may be able to provide suggestions regarding accommodations and/or additional activities.
Rental vans will be used to transport the group to most trailheads. To reach ocean-front trail heads will require drive time; the leaders will do their best to select the shortest, most scenic routes to minimize in-van travel time. All participants should be able and willing to hike 4-10 miles each day; some hikes will entail walking on slippery rocks, ascending/descending stairs, and covering some rugged terrain. The leaders will make every reasonable effort to provide the activities outlined in the trip's itinerary. All hikes and programs are subject to change depending on a variety of factors including trail conditions, permits, weather, and abilities of the group.
San Francisco (SFO) is the nearest airport. Our first lodge is located about 15 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge and is accessible by public transportation from the airport. Detailed departure bulletins, including information on the use of public transportation, will be provided to trip members. As per the trip’s itinerary, we will relocate to the second lodge/motel mid-week. Participants will be returned to SFO at the conclusion of the trip.
Accommodations and Food
The trip begins at our charming private lodge near Mill Valley in Marin County. Perched on a scenic ridge, we will enjoy privacy as well as proximity to many trails. Our meals will be eaten either in a glassed-in porch or outside on a large deck. Each sleeping area has four to six beds; bathrooms are shared. Shower and toilet facilities are separate and have privacy doors. There is no resident staff onsite, so all participants are required to vacate the lodge during the day.
During our stay in San Mateo county, rooms will be double occupancy. Participants traveling alone will be paired with another participant of the same gender. Breakfast will be continental at our lodging. Dinner will be at local restaurants. Please note that two lunches and three evening meals are not included in the trip price. Persons with specific dietary restrictions should discuss them with the leader before signing up for the trip.
Hiking by definition is a strenuous activity, but it is an activity that many people can do. The ability to hike vigorously four to ten miles a day with moderate elevation gain is essential for your enjoyment as well as that of your fellow hikers. At the discretion of the leader, more strenuous options may be available in addition to the planned hikes. Closed toe, well-broken-in hiking shoes are strongly recommended. To fully participate in this adventure, you will need to maintain a regular aerobic training program several months prior to our trip and become accustomed to carrying a loaded day pack.
Equipment and Clothing
Bay area weather is usually unpredictable in early summer; the climate along the Pacific Coast tends to be breezy but mild. Dressing in layers works well. Bring clothes for hiking and casual clothes for evenings. A recommended packing list will be provided to participants well in advance of the start of the trip. Your day pack must be large enough to hold lunch, water bottles or a hydration system, a waterproof jacket or rain gear, a personal ouch kit, and any medications that you may need during the hikes or trip.
- Danson, Ted, Oceana: our Endangered Oceans and What We can do to Save Them, 2011.
- Moore, Charles, Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans, 2011.
- Dinwiddie, Robert, Philip Eales, David Burie, Frances Dipper, Ocean, The World’s Last Wilderness Revealed, 2009.
“The ocean sustains us day to day, it provides much of the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.” - Ocean Conservancy
The oceans are not an inexhaustible resource, they need our help. Climate change; contamination by plastics, debris, and toxic chemicals; over-fishing and fish farming; reef destruction; off-shore oil drilling; and the tourism economy’s effect on coastal and deep-sea ecosystems are all complex threats to the health of the oceans. We’ll learn about efforts to restore the oceans’ health and preserve them for future generations, and ways we can affect change with our individual actions.
The area surrounding San Francisco Bay contains mountain topography, wetlands, old-growth forests, and other ecological features. Much has been lost to development, but much has been saved -- mostly due to the heroic efforts of individuals and local environmental organizations like the Sierra Club. More than 60% of Marin County’s land area is protected through public ownership: including three national parks, six state parks, Marin County Open Space lands, and two areas preserved by land trusts. We will learn how heroic grassroots efforts made the difference in saving them.
All Sierra Club leaders are volunteers, dedicated to the conservation and protection of the outdoors, including wilderness areas and the oceans. If at the end of our adventure you share our belief in the need to become dedicated stewards of the earth, we'll feel that we've done our job well. We will practice Leave No Trace; Take Only Memories principles that will minimize our impact. We will model recycling, conservation, and minimal use of water and disposable products. Since any traveling leaves a carbon footprint, check out the information that the Sierra Club offers about carbon offsets at: http://www.sierraclub.org/outings.
Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under permits from Point Reyes National Seashore, Mount Tamalpais State Park, and Montara State Beach.
Notes for Sierra Club Outings
- Carbon Offsets
- Electronic Billing and Forms
- Electronic Devices
- How to Apply for a Trip
- Leader Gratuities
- Liability Release and Assumption of Risk
- Medical Issues
- Non-discrimination Statement
- Participant Approval
- Reservation and Cancellation Policy
- Seller of Travel Disclosure
- Travel Insurance
- Trip Feedback
- Trip Price
- Wilderness Manners