Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day Hike - West Marin - Bass Lake - 8/14/2010

Bass Lake Hike Map - Click to Enlarge

Sarah and I were attending a friends wedding in Bolinas. Because Sarah was a bridesmaid, I had a couple of hours of free time while she got ready with the wedding party.
I drove less then ten minutes from the wedding location before pulling into the dirt parking lot at the Palomarin Trailhead. Over the years this trailhead has become increasingly popular as there were already about a hundred cars in the lot. The weather was foggy but not too cold. I set off along the Coastal Trail which passes through a forest of Eucalyptus and over a wooden bridge before jaunting out toward the coast. A solitary picnic table is set beside the trail offering the first views of the ocean.

View from Picnic Table -Click image to Enlarge-

For the next ½ mile or so the trail hugs the edge of the bluffs above the coastline without much change in elevation.

Easy Walking

The distant Farallon Islands were in clear view today.

Farallon Islands

Because I was crunched for time I decided to pick up the pace and jog certain segments passing several groups of hikers along the way. There were quite a few folks with camping gear heading out to Wildcat Camp for an overnight.
The trail soon veers Northeast as it climbs moderately uphill. The trail opens up offering a view of the section of trail I just hiked.
Previous trail segment

A variety of wildflowers dotted the trailside.

Bull Thistle

Sticky Monkey Flower

Indian Paintbrush

Cow Parsnip

Northern Yarrow ?

A small blue fluttering butterfly landed for a moment and I managed to capture a picture.
Acmon Blue

After topping out, the trail heads slightly downhill to a signed junction with Lake Ranch Trail.
Trail Junction

I kept left toward Bass Lake and Wildcat Camp.
The surrounding area soon became very lush and green.
Lush Segment

I passed two spur trails leading to small ponds which I would check out on the way back. A little bit further lead me to an overlook of Bass Lake.
Bass Lake Panorama -Click Image to Enlarge-

Bass Lake Overlook

I could hear people swimming in the lake and soon spotted several people near the rope swing. Although shore access is difficult around Bass Lake, it is great for swimming. Just be careful of the vast amounts of poison oak lining the spur trails. I had made it to Bass Lake in 50 minutes, which left me a little over an hour to get back in time for the wedding. There would be no swimming for me today. I snapped a few more photos and started the hike back.
Bass Lake & Morning Glory?

Within a few hundred yards I took a short spur trail to the right leading to a small pond where I sat and had lunch. The ponds surface was covered in a green moss type algae.
Lunch at the Pond -Click Image to Enlarge-

I had the pond to myself but could hear people walking by on the nearby trail. After a quick bite to eat I continued onward to the next pond which was much nicer in retrospect.
Spur Trail to Pond

Another Pond

This pond was half covered by giant lily pads and offered a much better environment for a lunch break.
Lily Pads

Although I did not see any, I’m told there are snapping turtles in this pond.
I continued moving at a fast pace and soon made it back to the top of the bluffs passing another 25 people heading in the opposite direction. A small patch of blue sky appeared for the first time in these parts in months. The fog continued to give way to bright and sunny skies. The colors displayed in front of me were truly incredible.
First Sign of Sun all Summer

Natures Beauty
The ocean went from intense blue underneath the patch of clear sky to a dull silvery gray further out beneath the bank of fog.
Color Contrast

The camera does no justice here.
A short ways further brought me back to my car and the end of my hike.
© copyright 2010


  1. Nice pics and description of a beautiful local hike.

  2. Cole,

    I love this hike, this terrain, these views! Nice job capturing it in wonderfully intimate photos and terse but eloquent narrative.