Abbots Lagoon and Pt. Reyes Station… A Trail Hike Plus a Favorite Small Town

Abbot’s Lagoon is a great place for bird watchers. Or people watchers. This great blue heron with its neck stretched out like a rubber band had a wary eye on Peggy. Wisely so. She was stalking it with her camera. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

It’s a wrap on my Pt. Reyes series today. Peggy and I will take you for a hike out to Abbot’s Lagoon and a visit to Pt. Reyes Station, a favorite town of mine.

The hike is suitable for almost anyone. We even watched a mom and dad pushing their baby along in a stroller. How much easier can it get? The baby seemed quite happy as did the parents. Visitors can turn around whenever they want, hike out to the Lagoon, or go on a leisurely stroll all the way to the ocean. We chose the latter.

The Abbot’s Lagoon trailhead leading out from the parking lot. The Lagoon can be seen in the distance. The Pacific Ocean is out beyond the Lagoon. The narrow strip you can see on the left is the continuation of the trail.
The red marker shows the location of Abbot’s Lagoon on the Google map. Down to the right you can see Pt. Reyes Station next to the Highway 1 marker. Highway 1, BTW, follows the San Andreas fault through this area. The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake shot what is now the National Seashore over 20 feet northward. San Francisco is 30 miles to the south.
Another photo of Peggy’s great blue heron. This time he was back at work catching fish. I liked the slight hint of a reflection. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
I was impressed with the red eye on this coot. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
We crossed a small bridge and looked back up the Lagoon toward the parking lot.
There was a drift wood structure along the trail on the beach out near the ocean. It had been cleverly woven together with kelp.
Finally we arrived at the Pacific Ocean.

The North Pacific Coast Railroad had arrived in the area 146 years earlier in 1875 and let passengers off in a cow pasture to make their way to nearby Olema and dairy ranches out on the peninsula. The cow pasture soon added a hotel and the town of Pt. Reyes station was born. It’s a story told over and over in the West. The railroad arrives and a community springs up, making land barons/developers happy and rich. This time it was a dentist in San Francisco. The railroad was making its way north to retrieve redwoods that were being cut down to build the city. Many a giant redwood gave its life to the cause.

I first arrived at Pt. Reyes Station in the late 1960s and I’ve returned again and again. The town has become somewhat yuppified and more expensive since then due to its close vicinity to San Francisco, but it still retains much of its charm. The following photos reflect some of what makes it charming.

The Pt. Reyes Book Store is one of the best small, independent bookstores we have ever been in, and we’ve been in a lot. Peggy told me to go in and spend $200 for my birthday. Boy, does she know me…
The Bovine Bakery is on one side of the book store. The buttermilk scones are to die for! I never leave town without one, or two, or three, or four.
Feeling Horsey? A saddlery is on the other side of the bookstore.
If your horse is hungry, Toby’s Feed Barn is across the street.
But what feed barn do you know that also serves gourmet coffee and freshly baked, large chocolate chip cookies. Now, that’s what I call charm!
A walk behind the the bookstore building brought us to the Cowgirl Creamery, famous for its cheeses, and I might add, its grilled cheese sandwiches. I’ve never been a fan of grilled cheese, but one bite of its aged white cheddar on sourdough bread and I was hooked. Peggy and I were back for another one the next day, which we took out and ate at the Abbot’s Lagoon parking lot.
Our view from where we chowed down on our grilled cheese sandwiches in the Abbot’s Lagoon parking lot.
A bit of living history. Cheda’s Garage is the oldest contract Triple A garage in the nation.
This was the view inside Cheda’s Garage. Putting two and two together and thinking roadside pickup of wrecked cars, I couldn’t help but irreverently think “Roadkill.” Just kidding. Old Cheda must have been one heck of a hunter.
A photo of early Pt. Reyes Station…
The building today.
The mural on the front of the building capturing some of the activities and wildlife of the area.
Just around the corner we found a sign that made us smile. A No Parking Sign had been cleverly modified to become a No Barking sign. Several cars were lined up in the no parking zone. Not one had a barking dog. A law-abiding town, for sure.
I’ll conclude my Pt. Reyes series with a historic photo of the train that gave the town its name. Join me next Friday on my travel blog as I take you on a spring walk around our property.

MONDAY’s BLOG-A-BOOK POST from Its 4 AM and a Bear Is Standing on Top of Me: I decide that doing an inventory of the local skunk population is ever so much better than being conked on the head by a Little League hardball. But have you ever faced a skunk standing on its front legs with its tail pointed toward you— ready to spray?

Earthquake Swallows Cow… Pt. Reyes National Seashore: Part 1

Sanderlings take flight at Pt. Reyes National Seashore on Limantour Beach. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Pt. Reyes National Seashore is an American Treasure. In this photo, Sanderlings take flight on Limantour Beach. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Photo of bull elk at Pt. Reyes National Seashore by Curtis Mekemson.

A bull elk is outlined against the sky at the Pierce Ranch.

My legs were not working and I was laughing. I had just completed one of Pt. Reyes’ easiest walks from the park headquarters out to the beach and back via Bear Valley. At the end of the 10 mile round trip, I had gratefully fallen into my car and driven to Bodega Bay. It was 1969 and the pre-Yuppified Inn-at-the-Tides consisted of motel cabins going for $15 as opposed to rooms starting at $200. My legs had gone on strike when I stepped out of the car to register.

I had just completed a year of recruiting for Peace Corps in the Southern United States where exercise had consisted of traveling between airports, motels and college campuses from Texas to Washington DC.  Adding injury to insult, I had eaten most of my meals at Southern restaurants serving large helpings of Southern food. Curt had become a little chubby. The legs were not happy. Fortunately, a half-pint of whiskey and a full night’s sleep ended their rebellion. The next morning I returned to my exploration of Pt. Reyes and the beginning of a life-long love affair with the North Coast of California.

Peggy and I returned to the area last week for three days and stayed at Olema Campground in the small town of the same name. It’s always been my campground of choice and has changed little over the decades. Even the restrooms have remained the same. I’ve used the campground as my jump off point for exploring Pt. Reyes, as a writing retreat, and as a campsite for the 500 mile-bike treks and 7 day walking tours I led on the North Coast during the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Photo of Olema Campground next to Pt. Reyes National Seashore by Curtis Mekemson.

One of my favorite campsites at Olema Campground backs up to a small stream and looks out on Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Obviously, we were celebrating Halloween.

Pumpkin carving photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Peggy and I join my Sister Nancy and her husband Jim each year for a pumpkin carving contest. We brought ours to Pt. Reyes. This witch was my entry in the contest.

Peggy's pumpkin. (She won the contest. Our grandkids voted without knowing who had carved the pumpkins.)

Peggy’s pumpkin. (She won the contest. Our grandkids voted without knowing who had carved the pumpkins.)

Our friends Ken and Leslie Lake joined us at the campground, arriving just in time to eat lunch in Pt. Reyes Station and to visit the Bovine Bakery and Pt. Reyes Books. The bookstore is a jewel and the bakery has buttermilk scones to die for. They, along with the Station House Café, are required stops on my trips to Pt. Reyes.

 Photo of Point Reyes Books and Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station by Curtis Mekemson.

Two of my favorite stops at Pt. Reyes Station. For a small, locally owned bookstore, Point Reyes Books has a great selection. And I’ve never met a pastry at the Bovine Bakery I didn’t like. More often than not, people are lined up out the door.

Afterwards we visited the park’s information center in Bear Valley and did a short walk around the Earthquake Trail. The Olema Campground is located a quarter of mile from the park headquarters and the infamous San Andreas Fault. Sitting in camp we could look across the fault at the peripatetic park. It had begun life some 300 miles to the south and is still working its way north. Normally its progress is measured in inches over decades. In 1906 it jumped 20 feet in the earthquake that was responsible for the destruction of San Francisco. Local legend is the earth cracked open, swallowed an Olema cow, and closed, leaving only the tail showing.

Pt. Reyes National Seashore photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A view along the Earthquake Trail. One of the things I like about Pt. Reyes National Seashore is the diversity of environments…

Photo by Curtis Mekemson of how far the San Andreas Fault slipped near Olema, California in 1906.

Leslie and Peggy stand on the San Andreas Fault and demonstrate how far the fault slipped in 1906.

This old black and white photo included by the park service along the EarthQuake Trail shows the actual slippage created by the 1906 earthquake.

This old black and white photo included by the park service along the Earthquake Trail shows the actual slippage created by the 1906 earthquake. You can see the actual crack in the ground.

And this photo from the Earthquake Trail shows the result of the 1906 earthquake on San Francisco.

And this photo from the Earthquake Trail shows the impact of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.

NEXT BLOG: We will visit Limantour Beach and go for a beach walk.