Some 22 million years ago–long after dinosaurs had left the scene, but long before we arrived–a large block of granitic rock that had been wrenched from the southern end of the Sierra Nevada about 50 million years earlier began a long, slow-motion ride northwest atop the Pacific Plate.
Now this itinerant piece of California geology finds itself partially–and temporarily–sutured to the outer edge of the North American continent on the coast of West Marin. How lucky are we to be alive in this place at this time, when this crown jewel of a natural landscape just happens to be passing by within such easy reach? Here, it’s accessible to two million of us who flock each year to its sandy beaches, wildflower-draped headlands, forested ridges, and wildlife-rich lagoons.
This temporary (in geologic time) residence of the Point Reyes peninsula at the edge of the Bay Area is one reason for my own permanent (in human time) residence here. During my first visit as an adult (coming from New York and Boston), I spent a sunny January day at Limantour Beach, seduced by the open vistas, the bright colors, the soft air, and the curious harbor seals. Eight months later I moved to San Francisco.
And how lucky we are that there were people with the vision and dedication to ensure that this seductive place would be accessible to us not only due to geological luck, but also by law. And so it is that this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Point Reyes National Seashore.
It was a great honor to be asked by the staff at the Seashore to put together a special insert marking this anniversary (see page 29). Of course, in 16 pages there is no way to adequately encompass or embrace Point Reyes; for that you have to return to the place itself throughout the seasons and over many years. However, this issue’s essays come from five noted writers who have done just that, so they may give you some good ideas about where to go and what to look for on your trips to this “king” of Bay Area parks.
And that’s what we’re always trying to do at Bay Nature–inspire you to get out and discover the landscapes of surpassing richness and beauty all around us in the Bay Area. Now we’re about to do even more to help you explore nature nearby: We’re launching the new Bay Nature Trailfinder (baynature.org/trailfinder), an interactive online guide to parks and trails throughout the Bay Area. We’ve assembled comprehensive information about parks and open space across the whole region and recruited a group of top-notch Trailblazers to share their favorite trails with you. We’re building the site with iNaturalist.org and Transitandtrails.org, so you’ll get info on the latest wildlife sightings and detailed directions whether you’re driving or taking transit.
The Trailfinder will launch in early July. Try it out and then let us know what you think. And tell us about your favorite trails as well, so we can keep expanding the Trailfinder and make it the most complete source of information about nature-related recreation in the Bay Area, from Point Reyes to Mount Diablo to Big Basin. (We are lucky, indeed!)
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Veteran environmental activist, writer, editor, publisher, educator, and coastal wetlands scientist Phyllis Faber has made countless contributions to the Bay Area environmental movement.