Sunday, 4 January 2009:
In what may well become a new year’s tradition for us, Sarah & I hiked the Hill 88 loop in Marin Headlands for our first “real” hike of 2009 (our snowy walk on the pancake-flat, 1-mile-long North Grove trail in Calaveras Big Trees State Park doesn’t really qualify, pretty though it is).
The Coastal Trail
We hiked up the initially-paved Coastal Trail, enjoying close views of Fort Cronkhite below, then turned on a switchbacked hikers-only shortcut, which climbed steadily toward the ridgetop.
The shortcut soon rejoined the Coastal Trail, still paved here, and we hiked to Battery Townsley, stopping briefly to enjoy the views and bask in the history of this former coastal defensive encampment.
Old gun battery
Still climbing, our views began to open up, with San Francisco to our south, and Mt. Tamalpais and Point Reyes to our north. We took a moment to be grateful that we had blue skies and moderate temperatures on this early-January day.
Up up up we hiked. I scanned the brush for any avian life, but saw none. Overhead, the usual Turkey Vultures circled, and a group of Common Ravens flew noisily about.
We walked past several other blocked-off installations, the lack of access only piquing our interest in what’s inside (rusty junk and broken glass, mostly likely).
After a ways we came to the end of the paved road, or rather I should say, we came to the place where the road was washed away in a landslide. The next quarter mile or so is a proper trail, but fairly steep, and with a gasp-inducing set of stairs near the top.
View north to Point Reyes
The ridge top afforded excellent views to the north, and Point Reyes was clearly visible on the horizon, as were the Farallon Islands, 30 miles west. We continued on the again-paved trail, huffing and puffing up the final 100 yards until we were at trail’s end on Hill 88.
Once atop Hill 88, we stopped to snack and enjoy the surroundings. Juxtaposed with the stellar views south to San Francisco, and north to Mt. Tamalpais and Point Reyes were the hilltop’s abandoned military buildings.
I’m always a sucker for rusty junk a peeling paint, so below, without comment, are a few of the better photos I took of the area.
Hill 88 – Abandoned Buildings I
Peeling Paint I
Hill 88 – Abandoned Buildings II
View to western San Francisco
Faded wood & concrete
Peeling Paint II
After 20 minutes atop Hill 88, we headed down, turning right on the Wolf Ridge Trail, which descends for 0.7 miles on the north side of Wolf Ridge.
We continued to have lovely views northward as we descended, although as this trail was shaded, it was a touch chilly.
Mt. Tamalpais & Tennessee Valley
We could see and hear people on the nearby (and very popular) Tennessee Valley Trail, no doubt Tennessee Beach was pretty busy on this lovely day.
A right turn on the Miwok Trail led us to the final 1.4 miles of descent.
I was a little surprised to find a small cluster of daffodils on the trailside, as they’re not native, and there were no obvious signs of human habitation nearby.
Eventually we arrived back at the valley floor, and walked along Rodeo Lagoon back to the car.
There wasn’t much in the lagon, bird-wise, and the sun was at an awkward angle for good looks, but I did spy some Goldeneye, Great Egrets, Double-crested Cormorants, and a Western Grebe, all year birds.
As always, this was a lovely hike, and I feel very fortunate to have it just a 20-minute drive from San Francisco.
Distance: 5.4 miles
Hiking time: 2h 15m
Total time: 2h 49m
Climbing: 1063′ (seems high, but that’s what the GPS said)
Location: Marin Headlands
Observation date: 1/4/09
Number of species: 15
+ Common Goldeneye – Bucephala clangula 4
+ Western Grebe – Aechmophorus occidentalis 1
+ Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus 3
+ Great Egret – Ardea alba 2
+ Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura 6
+ American Coot – Fulica americana 5
+ Western Gull – Larus occidentalis 25
+ Rock Pigeon – Columba livia 30
+ Anna’s Hummingbird – Calypte anna 1
+ Steller’s Jay – Cyanocitta stelleri 1
+ Western Scrub-Jay – Aphelocoma californica 1
+ Common Raven – Corvus corax 12
+ European Starling – Sturnus vulgaris 20
+ White-crowned Sparrow – Zonotrichia leucophrys 8
+ Brewer’s Blackbird – Euphagus cyanocephalus 25
+ = year bird (all of them!)
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)