ADT9: San Francisco to Point Reyes 2013-11

The last few days I continued my walk of the American Discovery Trail (ADT) across California, finishing off the San Francisco to Point Reyes segment. This is the last of the segments, geographically, but not the last for me, as I jumped over the two Antioch to San Francisco segments.

oak along Bobcat Trail
oak along Bobcat Trail

I spent the night at the Hosteling International San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf hostel in Fort Mason, which sits literally feet from the ADT, and then headed out along the bay on a clear windy day. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is beautiful, but it was good to get away from the traffic and back on trails. For unknown reasons, the pedestrian tunnel under the bridge at the north side was closed, so I walked north and through the car tunnel with no pedestrian width, but got back on track at the beginning of the Coastal Trail. This is the zero mileage point for segment 9. The trail climbs steeply up the ridge, with some views back towards the bridge and San Francisco, and then eventually views west and north. After 8 miles the trail drops to Tennessee Valley at the end of the road, climbs again to the ridge tops on the Miwok Trail and descends into Redwood Creek. This is a pattern, down to low spots and up to the ridges, again and again.

Pelican Inn
Pelican Inn

I took the detour, two miles out of the way but worth every step, to the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach. I had a bowl of squash ginger soup and a pint of Blackthorn cider in the pub, and enjoyed talking with the couple playing darts. I talked to several people along my route who were doing inn-to-inn trips, including Pelican Inn, day hiking and then spending the night in a bed and eating prepared meals. It sounds like a lot of fun, but beyond my budget. Then, back on the trail to a camp beside Redwood Creek.

The trail again climbs to beautiful views of the ocean and back south, then heads into Pan Toll campground where I ate breakfast. Though the route skips the walk through Muir Woods National Monument, there are second growth redwood forests along the trail. From the campground, north onto the Matt Davis Trail and then Coastal Trail. I am not sure whether all these segments of the Coastal Trail are continuous, but the ADT route follows them only for a distance. The trail wanders in and out of Douglas fir and bay laurel groves and across grassy hillsides.

view north along Matt Davis Trail
view north along Matt Davis Trail

North of Bolinas-Fairfax Road, the trail becomes the Bolinas Ridge Trail and is in the Marin Municipal Watershed, wandering through a mix of redwood forest and coast chaparral, with occasional views. The ADT and Bay Area Ridge Trail, which have coincided since the bridge, part ways here, with the ridge trail continuing north and then down to Taylor State Park. Dropping down off the ridge west on the Randall Trail, I joined the Olema Valley Trail that follows the San Andreas fault valley, and camped a ways north.

I ate breakfast at Five Brooks horse stables, and recharged my iPad, then headed up into Point Reyes National Seashore on the Stewart Trail. Though the high point here is only about 1200 feet, it seems much higher than the ridge north of Pan Toll at about 1900 feet. The forest is very dense, mostly Douglas fir, with fog lichen hanging from everything, though occasionally there are open grassy or chaparral areas with views. Though I saw no animals other than birds and squirrels, the trail is a rich collection of animal scat, many coyotes and foxes, and one that I’m sure was bear, though bears are rare in the seashore. Unfortunately I neglected to take a photo for documentation. The trail drops into Bear Valley, and then along Bear Creek, and out to the coast just north of Arch Rock.

view south along Sculptured Beach
view south along Sculptured Beach

The trail follows the coastal bench north, with some views of the cliffs below, but to really see the cliff you have to down to the beach. I headed out at Sculptured Beach Trail and explored the north and south. The tide was low though not out, so I saw some tide pools. The cliffs are of poorly consolidated beach sand and debris, the same as is being deposited underfoot, set on a layer of twisted marl.

The trail drops down through Coastal Camp, empty this day, and then out to the beach for the last mile to terminus at the end of Limantour Road and the trail to the beach. I’ve been on Limantour Beach with hundreds of people, but today there was just one couple with dogs.

afternoon sky at Limantour Beach, the end of the trail
afternoon sky at Limantour Beach, the end of the trail

It was late in the day, and by this point my feet were really hurting. Bicycling keeps my muscles in condition, but does nothing for my feet, and the three months since my last backpack had left them soft. Nevertheless, I had a reservation at the Point Reyes Hostel, so walked inland along the road (which climbs a lot, in retrospect I should have taken the Coastal Trail), to a welcome hot shower, dinner, tea, and a comfortable bed.

The next morning a caught a ride into Point Reyes Station to wait for the bus. And wait. Turns out the bus doesn’t run on Thanksgiving day, though that information was deeply buried on the website. So I tried to hitch from there, walked to Olema, and caught a ride from two nice women back to San Rafael, then the bus and Amtrak back home.

My next trips along the ADT will be Antioch to Walnut Creek, and Walnut Creek to San Francisco. Unfortunately the trail does not offer anything in the way of legal camping, so I have to fly below the radar.



I kept a GPS track of the trip using Motion-X GPS, which is posted at Motion-X does not offer permanent links, and WordPress hosted blogs don’t allow posting of gpx files, so this one will expire in six months. Note that instead of the standard ADT segment 9 starting at the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, this one starts at the Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel (a logical break point in my mind), and though it was intended to end at the Point Reyes Hostel (a logical terminus), I missed the last 2.6 mile section of trail to Limantour Beach after forgetting to take it off pause after the side trip to Sculptured Beach. Ah well. I have not been able to find tracks of the ADT anywhere online, which is why I’ve been tracking them. Finding places to plug in my iPad has been a challenge. It would last three days, no problem, if all I was doing was the track, but I’m also taking photos and looking up information, so it last only a little over a day.

Earlier Posts


American Discovery Trail collection on Flickr

6 thoughts on “ADT9: San Francisco to Point Reyes 2013-11

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