I had been looking forward to hiking a segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail in Marin County, and for this occasion I selected a section in the Marin Headlands not far north of the Golden Gate Bridge, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I hadn’t explored the GGNRA before, but I knew it would be interesting. The section of trail north of Tennessee Valley Road to CA-1 promised excellent ocean views – on a clear day. I noticed at the trailhead parking area that the other walkers starting out on other trails wore fleece shirts or vests, and I even saw one fleece hat (yes, in August). Perhaps they were more familiar than I am with the local micro-climate and knew when to ignore the weather forecast.
By the way, I gather that the Tennessee Valley and nearby Tennessee Cove are named for a steamship named Tennessee that ran aground in the cove in the 1850’s.
Overnight and morning fog is very common along the coastline. I had taken the precaution of checking the forecast for nearby Stinson Beach, and it promised to be only partly cloudy by 10:00 or so, which I took to be an indication of when the fog would be burning off. So I decided to go for it, planning my travel to the trailhead so that I could start the hike at about 10:00. Well, sometimes the forecast is off a little bit with respect to fog burn-off, and the anticipated ocean views were not to be had today. Instead, I enjoyed more of a close-up perspective.
In several locations tendrils of fog blew gently across the trail in the light breeze. Though the sense of motion can’t be portrayed in a still shot, this picture shows the general weather condition along the trail.
There were many pretty wildflowers to enjoy trailside. Here is a cluster of thistles:
I was struck by one particular flower that reminded me of an orchid. Though I do not think of orchids as being endemic to the Bay Area, for now that’s what I’ll call it.
Along one section of hillside there was a dense growth of ferns, no doubt thriving in the moist micro-climate.
I noticed a phenomenon that occurs precisely because the coastal fog is so common in this area. As the fog blows in from the ocean it is captured by the trees and converted to larger droplets, which then literally rain to the ground from the trees. It was quite striking to be walking along a completely dry trail and suddenly encounter a wet section under some trees – and catch a little rain on my head! Near my turnaround point where the trail crosses CA-1 I noticed a few eucalyptus trees with ivy growing up the lower portion of the trunks.
The hike was very serene – I only met two other people. I look forward to returning another time when the weather is conducive to ocean views.