Naturalist and writer Jules Evens has lived near Point Reyes for over 30 years. He is the founder of Avocet Research Associates and the author of The Natural History of the Point Reyes Peninsula and An Introduction to California Birdlife (both UC Press).
Bay and Estuary
An easy to moderate walk on a gravel road, 2.8 miles round-trip. The approach to Marshall Beach is rather steep and may be slippery in the rainy season.
The trailhead to the Marshall Beach begins after driving a couple of miles along the L Ranch Rd., out through the northern edge of the bishop pine forest, across some open pastureland.
Birding along the road on the way in is quite good. After dawdling along the road for an hour or more, I arrive at the trailhead for a short hike (1.4 mile) down the old ranch road to Marshall Beach. The trail cuts through grazed pasture before forking and heading downhill through recovering northern coastal scrub.
After descending the east-facing slope the trail comes to the mouth of the drainage and a forest of Monterey pine and Monterey cypress. The bird activity is concentrated here, with dozens of Violet-green Swallows pirouetting overhead, Purple Finches and Chestnut-backed Chickadees foraging through the pines. But most of the activity is in the dense understory—elderberry, thimbleberry, coyote bush, blackberry, poison oak, bracken— where shrub birds are busy chattering amongst themselves.
The trail daylights along the eastern shore of Tomales Bay, on a lonely beach in a calm cove. The empty cabin on the far end of the beach reminds me of the sculptor, envelope artist, fisherman, and raconteur and who once lived out here, Clayton Lewis (1915-1995). He was a peaceful soul in a peaceful place. May it always be so.