Girls Run Wild

Hike This! A 3-Beach 9-Miler in Inverness, CA

Posted on: June 3, 2011

I know you’re looking out the window right now going f this! More rain in the forecast and no summer days in sight.  When is it going to end!  Well, I don’t think a meterologist can predict the rain at this point, but don’t let this freakish weather get you down.  Assuming a monsoon doesn’t keep us drenched for the next 3 months, we should get some sun (I’ll even take fog!) one of these days.

With that said, it’s so easy to forget, as you stand in the middle of San Francisco’s financial district, that calm, peace, and a little bit of country can be found just a stone’s throw away.  Give yourself a car (or a bike – but don’t even get me started on the latter) and about 45 minutes and you’ve got a plethora of open space for one of my favorite activities: hiking.

Downtown Inverness

Nestled on the north-western edge of Marin County, Inverness is a sleepy town that is bordered by Tomales Bay and the Point Reyes National Seashore.  Named by Scottish settlers because the geography reminded them so much of home (Inverness, Scotland), the area retains its beauty from a dearth of over-development.  The town itself contains 2 restaurants, a grocery store, and a post office.  Traditionally, Inverness has been a place for retirees, artists, and second home owners.  Weekends bring city dwellers to its beaches and B&B’s.  One of the best things about Inverness is its geography – the combination of hills, valleys, ridges, and shores invites a chance for pedestrian discovery along varied terrain, flora, and fauna.  One of my favorite hikes extends from the edge of Inverness proper and into Tomales Bay State Park.  The hike leads you from one beach (Shell) to another (Shell II) and then four miles of ups and downs under the natural shade of the trees to your final destination: Hearts Desire Beach.  After a swim and a snack you snake your way back to the trail head – with maybe enough time for one last crawl through the bay.

Getting there:  Look up directions to Camino Del Mar, Inverness, CA.  This street dead ends at a parking lot/trail head.  You can also start in the reverse direction by driving to Hearts Desire Beach.  However, this starting point requires that you pay for parking and is a much busier beach on the weekend.

Trail Head: Johnson Trail

Directions: Follow the Johnson Trail to Shell Beach.  Once at the beach, follow the sand to a small wooden bridge and continue on the trail up and over the cliff.  This will bring you down into Shell II.  Again continue on the sand until you get to the woodsy area up ahead.  Follow the signs to the Johnson Trail.  Avoid heading down to Pebble Beach and continue on with the Johnson Trail.  This will end in a parking lot/BBQ area just above Hearts Desire Beach.  Follow the beach sounds to the water’s edge.  Obviously, go in the reverse direction to get back to your car.

Hearts Desire Beach

The total round trip distance is about 9 miles and can take over 3 hours, depending on walking speed and dawdle time at the beaches.  Shell Beach has an outhouse but no formal bathroom facilities.  Hearts Desire has a full bathroom and outdoor showers for washing off sand.  Water, a towel, a snack, GOOD walking shoes, and sunscreen are recommended.  Going for 9 miles in flip flops is not advisable.  Also, watch out for poison oak (leaves of three, let them be) while on the trail and always check yourself for ticks.

Don’t forget to check out Pt. Reyes Station on your way home – Tomales Bay Foods houses a retail outlet for the Cowgirl Creamery, The Bovine Bakery’s croissants are a dream, Toby’s Feed Barn features an espresso bar, The Old Western Saloon treated Prince Charles and Camilla to a pint of local IPA on their tour in 2005, and the various shops the line Highway 1 welcome your arrival.  Or better yet – make a weekend of it!

The Bovine Bakery


1 Response to "Hike This! A 3-Beach 9-Miler in Inverness, CA"

[…] couple of weeks ago I shared my favorite Bay Area hike in the small West Marin town of Inverness.  Hiking is a great weekend activity and is an excellent excuse to ditch the nasty City weather […]

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