Sea and Service at Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14086A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Explore and help protect the scenic ecosystems of Point Reyes
  • Visit bays, lagoons, beaches, and historic maritime landmarks
  • Observe birds, elephant seals, and other wildlife


  • Lodging in an historic boathouse on Drake’s Bay
  • All meals, snacks, and project tools
  • Serenity, waves, wildlife, and engaging group interactions


DatesMay 4–10, 2014
StaffPaul LaQuatra

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Enjoy scenic views of the Pacific Ocean while liberating native plant species from invasive varieties in Point Reyes National Seashore. A remote maritime wilderness just 35 miles north of San Francisco, the Point Reyes Peninsula is rich with history and more than 1,500 species of plants and wildlife. While driving through the park or hiking any of the 150 miles of trails, a visitor may glimpse Tule elk, elephant seals, bobcats, sea lions, and many of the 490 species of birds found in the area.

The rugged coastal cliffs, sandy beaches, and wooded forests have been inhabited for more than 5,000 years, beginning with the Miwok Indians and eventually European explorers led by Sir Francis Drake. The maritime commerce boom of the mid-19th century led to the installation of a lighthouse and a lifesaving station, both historic landmarks now open to the public.

These are some of the Park’s natural and historical features that interactive displays and interpretive walks guide you through. As you walk the grounds, you can explore the Earthquake Trail that straddles the San Andreas Fault. Our itinerary will afford you plenty of opportunities to explore the 71,000 acres, and our location features many activities for visitors.

In addition to being a superior natural destination, the park is located within a short drive to even more of California’s attractions, such as Napa and Sonoma valleys, San Francisco, Muir Woods, and other national parks. Local towns near the park include Tomales Bay, Point Reyes Station, and Inverness, all offering dining and recreation opportunities before and after the project week. 

The Project

Joining the influx of explorers, farmers, miners, and sailors were a variety of exotic plant species that threaten this rich coastal habitat and its ecosystems. Removing invasive plants allows the native seeds that are stored in the soil to grow and thrive. On past trips, Sierra Club participants have removed cape ivy, cape weed, fire weed, gopher weed, New Zealand spinach, European beach grass, ice plant, and many kinds of thistle. Our specific work will depend on the needs of the park at the time of our visit, the resources available, and the weather.


Specific meeting locations, times, map, and agenda will be communicated to approved participants well before the trip dates. We will meet late afternoon on the first day (Sunday) and depart after breakfast on the last day (Saturday). Our daily itinerary is always subject to the needs of our park hosts and the weather, but typically we work four six- to eight-hour days and have two full “off” days during the week to enjoy the park or relax in our beautiful surroundings. Our work days will typically begin around 7 a.m. for breakfast and for making/packing our lunches. On some of those days, we will travel by vehicle approximately 20-30 minutes to our work site, where we may then have a short walk, carrying our packs and tools. For participants who are “off” cook duty—we will rotate turns helping the cook—there usually is time/daylight for relaxing and exploring at the end of the work day. Overall, this week will be time to be “unplugged” from electronic devices that draw your attention.



Getting There

The nearest airports are in Oakland and San Francisco. Additionally, West Marin Stagecoach and Golden Gate Transit offer limited public transportation within the local area. A trip roster will be sent to all participants to facilitate carpooling arrangements.

Accommodations and Food

We will be lulled to sleep by the tides while staying in the Historic Lifeboat Station overlooking Drake’s Bay. The cozy “boathouse” has bunk-style sleeping accommodations with community bathrooms and a full kitchen for our use. There are no separate rooms for couples.

Meals prepared by our trip cook and kitchen helpers (all participants will take turns as kitchen helpers) will be vegetarian friendly and will include some meat alternatives appropriate to the group. The protein-rich, nutritious, and imaginative meals and snacks will be suited to the work project and participants’ needs and preferences. Within our budget, we strive to choose food options that are organic and produce the minimum amount of waste. If you have food allergies and/or strong preferences, contact the cook prior to applying to assure yourself the trip can accommodate your needs. 

Trip Difficulty

Removing invasive weeds can be moderately difficult due to the terrain and tools required. There are a few places in the park where we may have to walk up to a mile or more over relatively flat ground to the work project. We will all work at our own pace, and no one should feel obliged to work beyond his or her comfort level. Since safety is our primary concern on service trips, we encourage participants to take water and shade breaks. Note that the weather at Point Reyes can change quickly, and all participants should plan for fog, rain, sun and varying temperatures throughout the week, and on the windward side, blustery winds. Layers are always in order.

Equipment and Clothing

The park will provide the equipment necessary for our project, but you must bring sturdy boots and water-resistant outerwear to ward off fog, mist, rain, and damp ground. Also bring a small backpack or day pack suitable for carrying your lunch and water bottles, extra clothing layers, camera, and other personal items.

Eating utensils, water bottles or canteens, and one food container for lunch with a tight-fitting lid are also needed. We will have a first-aid kit for emergencies, but please bring moleskin, Band-Aids, aspirin, and any personal medications you require.

The leader will provide a complete list of equipment to registered participants.



  • Bossard, C.C., J.M. Randall, and M. C. Hoshovsky (Eds.), Invasive Plants of California Wildlands.
  • Lage, J., Point Reyes: The Complete Guide to the National Seashore & Surrounding Area.
  • Griffin, L.M., Saving the Marin-Sonoma Coast.



The Bear Valley Visitors Center at Point Reyes has trail maps, books, and souvenirs. You can also get a topographical map from Tom Harrison Maps, 2 Falmouth Cove, San Rafael, CA 949014465; (800) 2659090;


Our work, information, and talks will all pertain to conserving this area so that future wildlife and human generations may continue to enjoy the maritime habitat. The Sierra Club has been engaged at Point Reyes National Seashore since 2001. You will learn about our continuing efforts, and those of other groups, to relieve some of the damage that exotic species have caused. Mitigating invasive plant and animal species continues to be an economic problem at the local, state, and national level, and we will contribute to those efforts on this trip.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.

While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.



Paul LaQuatra loves exploring the wonders of the outdoors and safely leading others in their excursions. Since the early 1970s, he has avidly hiked in many regions of America, other nations, and on different terrains. He has found Sierra Club outings to be one of the most rewarding of outdoors experiences.


Elizabeth Taylor, also known as "ET," considers cooking for Service Trips the ideal blending of her two passions: being in the wilderness and making great things to eat. She has cooked on many service trips and, during the off-season, often cooks at the homeless shelter or for varsity sports teams in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she lives. Meals will be mostly vegetarian with Asian and Mediterranean flavors, but expect a bit of Southern cooking and yummy desserts.

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