Sea and Service at Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14312A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Be awed by the splendor of one of the most scenic areas of North America
  • Contribute to the restoration and preservation of a precious ecosystem
  • Observe ocean, estuarine, meadow, and mountain wildlife as you work to sustain it


  • Lodging in the historic Lifeboat Station
  • All meals, snacks, and expert overviews of the locale
  • Two free day opportunities for hiking, beachcombing, birding, and more


DatesOct 25–Nov 1, 2014
StaffSuzanne Ferguson

Trip Overview

The Trip

Enjoy scenic views of the Pacific Ocean while working to restore native plant species in Point Reyes National Seashore. A hidden maritime wilderness just 35 miles north of San Francisco, where the San Andreas fault emerges from the land into the sea, the Point Reyes Peninsula is rich with history and over 1,500 species of plants and wildlife. While driving through different areas of the park or hiking on any of the 150 miles of trails, a visitor can often glimpse eagles, tule elk, elephant seals, bobcats, sea lions, and many of the 490 species of birds found in the area—from sea birds to waders to birds of the meadowland and forest.

The rugged coastal cliffs, sandy beaches, varied woodlands, and grasslands have been inhabited for over 5,000 years, starting with the Miwok Indians and including European explorers led by Sir Francis Drake in the 16th century. At the Bear Valley Visitor Center, interactive displays and interpretive walks lead you through this history; or you can straddle the San Andreas Fault as you explore the Earthquake Trail. 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. Our itinerary will afford you plenty of opportunities to explore the 71,000 acres, and there is no shortage of activities!

A beautiful destination itself, the park is conveniently situated within a short drive to even more of California’s charms such as the Napa Valley, San Francisco, Muir Woods, and additional 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 work week. 


The Project

Along with the explorers, farmers, miners, and sailors came a variety of exotic plant species that continue to threaten the pristine coastal habitat and its ecosystems. Removing these invasive plants allows the native seeds stored in the soil to grow and thrive. In the past, Sierra Club participants have removed the ubiquitous ice plant, plus Spanish broom, cape ivy, cape weed, fire weed, gopher weed, New Zealand spinach, European beach grass, and many kinds of thistle. Led by a Park Environmental Specialist, our specific work will depend on the needs of the park and the weather. 


Meeting locations, times, map, and agenda will be sent to all approved participants as the trip dates approach. We will meet late afternoon on the first day and depart after breakfast on the last day. While our daily itinerary is always subject to the needs of our park hosts and the weather, we typically work four six- to seven-hour days and have two full “off” days to enjoy the park or chill out in our beautiful surroundings. Our day will usually begin around 7 a.m. for making and packing our lunches and enjoying breakfast. On some days, we will travel by vehicle up to 20-30 minutes to our work site, where we may have a moderate walk carrying our packs and tools. After work, those not taking their turn helping our cook in the fully equipped kitchen will usually have time and daylight for relaxing and exploring.  Look forward to being “unplugged” for the week without the distractions of cellular, wifi, or television. There will be several options for organized excursions on the off days; or you can plan your own small-group exploring.



Getting There

Travel to and from the boathouse, near the lighthouse at the southwest tip of the Park, is the responsibility of each participant. The nearest airports are in Oakland and San Francisco. To make it easier to carpool, the leader will send out a trip roster, which will allow you to make arrangements with other participants. Although we will have a van big enough to transport a dozen people each day, it is possible that driving participants may be asked to take turns bringing participants to the work sites.

Accommodations and Food

We will be lulled to sleep by the gentle surf 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.

Please come with the attitude that food is part of the adventure. Although some of our dishes will be meat-based, we will accommodate vegetarians and provide tasty and nutritious food for all. We'll have a group commissary with everyone taking turns helping the cook in meal preparation. Before applying for the trip, folks with food allergies or strong preferences should contact the cook to see if reasonable accommodations can be made. Our first meal will be dinner on day one and our last meal will be breakfast on the final day.

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 blustery winds on the windward side. Layers are always in order.

Equipment and Clothing

The Park will provide the tools necessary for our project, but you will need sturdy boots and water-resistant outerwear to ward off wind, fog, mist, rain and damp ground. Heavy work gloves—two pair in case one gets wet—are a must.  Bring a small backpack or day pack suitable for carrying your lunch and water bottles, extra clothing layers, camera, binoculars and other personal items.

For packing your lunch, you will need to bring eating utensils, a water bottle or canteen, and at least one container with a tight-fitting lid. We will have a first-aid kit for emergencies, but you should 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 topo map from Tom Harrison Maps, 2 Falmouth Cove, San Rafael, CA 949014465; (800) 265-9090;


The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is supported by a salaried office staff but accomplished by volunteers, which encourages grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater understanding, advocacy, and participation in the goals of the Club.

At Point Reyes, our work, discussions, and informative talks will all pertain to conserving this area so the many wildlife and human generations to follow may continue to enjoy the maritime habitat. The Sierra Club has been engaged at Point Reyes National Seashore since 2001. You will learn from the leaders and Park personnel 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 a serious 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.



Suzanne Ferguson has been staffing Sierra Club Service trips in Florida and the far West since 2005, often as a cook but also a leader. While she loves her home ground in southwest Florida, she really looks forward to Service Trips that incorporate the natural and cultural legacy of California—from the mountains to the seashore. She has been coming to Pt. Reyes since 1963, and anticipates an exhilarating experience contributing to its future.


Billie Wolff moved to California from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a few years ago and started hiking, backpacking, volunteering, and exploring. She went on her first Sierra Club trip to the Redwoods one week after moving to CA, and became a leader for the San Gorgonio and Los Angeles Chapters within a year. Having started planning menus for an outdoor school about 35 years ago in Pennsylvania, she loves making "camp food" and decided after her first Service Trip that she would like to cook.

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