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Abbotts Lagoon

Point Reyes National Seashore

December 30th, 2007

3.0 miles
200 vertical feet
Total Time: 3:50

Rating: 6/10

Directions: From San Francisco, take Highway 1 north. Take Sir Francis Drake exit and follow Sir Francis Drake about 20 miles to Olema. Turn right at the T-intersection, then left onto Bear Valley Road. Bear left to continue on Sir Francis Drake. Turn right onto Pierce Point Road and follow it for a few miles, turning left into the signed parking lot for Abbotts Lagoon.   View Driving Map

You can see the lagoon from the parking lot, but it's a little more than a mile away. Actually, what you see is one lagoon; there are basically two lagoons separated by a small narrow marshy area.

Unlike the previous day, the weather was bright and clear as we prepared in the parking lot. It was, however, cold and windy. There are no trees on this hike, so there's not much to shelter you from the stiff Pacific Ocean winds.

We started off on the hike, walking west toward the lagoons, past rolling green hills. There's a fence adjacent to the trail on the left, which separates you from the cattle (although we saw two deer on the other side). It's quite interesting seeing low brush on the trail side of the fence and bright green grasses on the cattle side of the fence.

Deer on the other side of the fence

Trail heading toward the lagoons

The lagoon is a great place for bird watching. We saw lots of birds resting on the water and hovering over it. I'm not a bird expert, but I know we saw gulls and some type of raptor, perhaps turkey vultures.

Green grassy fields on the other side of the fence

First lagoon (ocean in the distance)

After about a mile we reached the west end of the first lagoon. There's a foot bridge here that separates the two lagoons. There are some small sand dunes above the first lagoon here. We crossed the bridge and sat down at the edge of the second lagoon for lunch. The second lagoon is much larger than the first. It's also buffeted by the wind more. Dress appropriately!

Sand dunes above the first lagoon, near the bridge

The second lagoon is backed by a small hill, maybe 50 feet high. There's a small path up to the top which I saw a few people climb to get better views. We contented ourselves with the views from below, then continued along toward the ocean. Hiking through sand is no fun, so try to stay along the shore where the sand is wet. That makes it much easier to hike.

Curving shore of the second lagoon

Hill above the second lagoon

There were scores of birds along the shore of the lagoon as we headed toward the ocean. Nathan wanted to look for sea shells, but when we arrived at the ocean there were none to be found. The waves came crashing down and the bare beach went on for miles in both directions. The wind was really howling, and after thinking about it, I decided if I were a sea shell I'd probably be blown further inland. We climbed up and away a bit from the ocean and found some sea shells there. We also got some nice views of the second lagoon.

Second lagoon and ocean

After letting the kids play in the sand, we headed back toward the lagoons. One interesting thing I noticed about the second lagoon is that there's a long thin ribbon of sand stretching for much of its northern shore, with water on both sides (the water on one side is only about 4 feet wide and 1 inch deep). I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before, and I'm not sure what causes it.

Sand bar on edge of second lagoon

Birds on the shore of the second lagoon

As we crossed the bridge between the two lagoons, we noticed a photographer taking some pictures of a bird. I wouldn't have even noticed the bird if it hadn't been for the photographer. The bird was gray, blending in with the dried cattails on the shore of the lagoon. The bird just stood there quietly, hardly moving. It was quite large and important-looking, but I'm not sure what kind of bird it is.

Looking back at the first lagoon

Bird on the edge of the first lagoon

We hiked back along the trail, retracing our steps to the parking lot. The trail can get crowded with other hikers, but it's a nice hike for bird watching on a clear day. Since it's so exposed, I can't imagine it being very pleasant in bad weather like there had been the previous day.

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