Bay Area Hikes: Hiking the The Johnstone Trail in Tomales Bay State Park, California. Grab Your Hiking Boots, We'll See You There!

View from the Johnstone Trail in Tomales Bay State Park

Hike:       Johnstone Trail in Tomales Bay State Park, California
Length:   @ 8 miles round trip
Location: Tomales Bay State Park near Point Reyes National Seashore - Northwest of SF
Difficulty: Gentle trail, minimal elevation, minor switchbacks

Fall screams - HIKING WEATHER! - to me. I just can't stay inside with the crisp mornings and apple-picking sunshine days. So "Off!" I turned the computer. "Yank!" I grabbed a few fun friends. And "Zoom!" - we headed out for our adventures...

We discovered this gentle, lush hike during the Government Shutdown a few weeks ago. A last minute "You've got to be kidding me!", when our original hiking plans were derailed with the closure of all National Parks, made us re-boot and look for other, less obvious options. 

The road less traveled led us to the Johnstone Trail in Tomales Bay State Park, located between the Point Reyes National Seashore and Tomales Bay, now well known for it's oysters and freshy food and kayaking adventures.

Map of Tomales Bay State Park
Arriving at Heart's Desire Beach early - the key for parking, as once the lot is full, they won't let you in - we hit the trail at 9am and followed it up a gentle slope, through a mossy forest of curling and curiously otherworldly oaks and bays, as if transported to and earthy world of storybook creatures. 

Following the trail up to it's peak through the vegetation, we found a tree-framed view of Tomales Bay poking out to the East. And a little further along, a sweeping view of Point Reyes National Seashore to our West. 

Manageable switchbacks swooped us down, down to the peaceful Shell Beach, where we pulled out our squished PB&Js - or our organic, grass-fed, kale sandwiches - and enjoyed a quiet moment of "we made it!" and watched a group of kayakers out in the bay paddle along in their crayon-orange line of boats.

On the way home, we took the "Jepson Trail" half-way through to explore new territory. And returned to our starting point at Heart's Desire Beach, which was now completely full of picnicking families and paddling kayakers and kids splashing and BBQ smells galore. 

Note: that this trail is not about broad scenic vistas. It is mostly in the trees and offers a gentle hike in fresh air with little pop-out rest spots on beaches along the bay.


Namaste & Three Cheers - OM

For more detailed information, check out these links:
Tomales Bay State Park
Bay Area Hiker 
The Johnstone Trail 
Tomales Bay Oyster Company

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