Point Reyes: The Complete Guide to the National Seashore & Surrounding Area, by Jessica Lage, Wilderness Press, 2004, 250 pages, $15.95 (www.wildernesspress.com).
Although visitors to the Point Reyes National Seashore can enjoy the landscape without any particular knowledge of the area, Jessica Lage’s book offers a rich introduction to the park’s various trails and nearby points of interest — with maps and descriptions of 41 different trails, including details about distance and difficulty, a list of facilities available along the trail, and trail-use regulations. She highlights the most prominent plant life and suggests particular birds and other animals to keep an eye out for.
Chapters outlining the natural and human history of the park offer an overall understanding of the park’s ecology, the evolution of the large dairy industry from the 1850s, and the controversial creation of the National Seashore itself. The National Park Service had originally planned to build additional roads to accommodate golf courses and facilities for motorboats, dune buggies, and thousands of cars. By the time the last parcels of the Point Reyes Peninsula were acquired, conservation became more of a priority for the Park Service than recreation, and in 1985, local activists helped to designate 32,000 acres of the park as wilderness. The book also includes sidebars on a variety of topics, from the prominent role of fire in the area and the return of the tule elk to the work of local landscape painters and kayaking at the Seashore.
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The California Coastal Trail runs west of Highway 1 along this scenic stretch of the San Mateo coast.