Several trails crisscross Inverness Ridge passing through remains of the four day long 1995 Mt. Vision fire which destroyed 12,000 acres of Point Reyes National Seashore. This hike explores the progression of recovery from that event and offers an opportunity to see the influence of fire and of geology on the landscape. It is highly recommended to visit the Bear Valley Visitor Center in Point Reyes National Seashore to visit exhibits important to understanding the “island” that is Inverness Ridge. Interesting too is the human history and Sir Francis Drake’s voyage to the area, referred to in the Drakes View Trail. This hike can be done as a loop, or as a one way by first leaving a shuttle car at Muddy Hollow Trailhead. By starting at Bayview Trailhead, the climb back up from Muddy Hollow and the least interesting trail segment can be avoided.
An interesting informational kiosk sponsored by Bay Nature and the National Park Service can be found at Bayview trailhead parking which has information and maps of the Mt. Vision fire. Hike up the fire road that is Inverness Ridge Trail, turning into occasional single track past the Drakes View trail junction and continuing up to the Bucklin Trail about 1.7 miles into the hike. The Bucklin is one of the best parts of this hike, with stumps and wood pieces from the 1995 fire visible in dense stands of native Bishop pine that sprouted up after the fire forming tunnels over the trail. Notice the rocks below your feet are granitic, creating soil incompatible to redwoods living not far away in the very different soil of the North American Plate on the other side of the San Andreas Fault. Several geologic theories disagree about where the granite came from on the Pacific Plate, where this hike occurs, but the rangers at the Bear Valley Visitor Center can give you the latest on the thought provoking theories.
Bucklin Trail, when it’s not obscured by fog, gives nice distant views, leaves the dense Bishop Pine forest and drops down to the Muddy Hollow Road in 2.3 miles. Native Oaks, Bay, and Buckeye can be found on the last part of this hike. Interestingly, the native local Bays are carriers of the Sudden Oak Death spread by a water mold brought in on non-native plants and finding a perfect environment in the wet, moderate temperatures of Marin. The early flowering Buckeyes contain a toxin that attacks red blood cells if any part of it is ingested, including the “Buckeye” seed and even harm non-adapted bees brought to the area for honey production. Another non-native the Death Cap mushroom thrives here, brought over from Europe on cork trees in the 1930’s to supply corks to the wine trade.
While following the Muddy Hollow Road note how it has been restored to a single track trail and avoid hiking off the trail. It’s a short scenic walk on flat trail now among some amazing vegetation to the Muddy Hollow Trailhead and hopefully your shuttle back to Bayview.