On the trail with nature’s sounds
by Alex Coltman on July 17, 2013
From the rustling of the wind through the trees to the yipping of coyotes at dusk, the Bay Area offers an impressive array of natural sounds. Why not take a day to escape the daily bombardment of urban noise to appreciate nature’s melodies? This Thursday marks World Listening Day and, although it’s hard to peel off mid-week, the day offers the perfect excuse to fully immerse yourself in the sounds of nature.
Here is Bay Nature’s selected list of hikes for the occasion (we give you permission to postpone them for the weekend). For more on nature sounds, take a tour with an “acoustic ecologist,” who is collecting a vast digital library of bird songs they’ve recorded across Northern California.
Edgewood Park, Redwood City
No one celebrates the end of each day quite as enthusiastically as coyotes do, and any of the several trails looping through Edgewood Park are excellent for eavesdropping on their distinctive song. Edgewood Park is a fairly straight shot off of 280, and best known for it impressive wildflowers come spring. For a relatively easy hike, try the Franciscan Loop, a scenic dirt path just under 1½ miles. If you’re hoping to hear some of the yips and howls characteristic of the area, try to plan your hike for sometime in the late afternoon, as the park closes at sunset. Even after the sun dips completely below the horizon, their unique calls are audible all the way back to your car in the available parking lot.
Mount Tamalpais, Marin
North Bay residents are no doubt familiar with Mt. Tamalpais, and for good reason; the peak offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the entire Bay Area. This glorious scenery is accompanied by the wind whistling across the wide-open grasslands and through the redwood valleys. Miles of trails ribbon the mountain, including one leading to the historic West Point Inn. Starting from the parking lot across from the Mountain Home Inn, the hike to the inn is approximately 3.8 miles. The moderate hike is well worth it; the inn offers picnic benches perfect for relaxing and enjoying the sounds of the wind across the southern slope of the mountain.
Arch Rock, Point Reyes
Of the 150 miles of hiking trails that wind along the Point Reyes National Seashore, the Bear Valley trail is easily the most popular in the park. The most direct route to the ocean, the Bear Valley trail concludes with the beautiful overlook point Arch Rock. Try taking the Bear Valley-Meadow Trail Loop and make a day trip out of this 10.6-mile coastal adventure. Starting at the southern edge of the parking lots, the rhythmic roar of the Pacific amplifies as you near its shore. Arch Rock offers some spectacular views of the ocean and with it an incomparable blend of sounds, as the waves crash against the rocks below you, and the shorebirds call out to one another above.
Point Isabel, Richmond
Take a stroll along Richmond’s inner harbor this time of year and you’ll be treated to the whistling cries of a variety of shorebirds. Willets and American avocets are particularly abundant around Point Isabel, though it’s not uncommon to stumble across ducks, herons and other wildlife on the Point Isabel to Marina Bay hike. The trail is just under 5 miles and allows dogs on-leash, making it ideal for both you and your canine companion to get some fresh air.
Alex Coltman is a Bay Nature editorial intern.