The Jepson Memorial Grove loop goes through one of the only virgin stands of the rare Bishop pine. Continue past the Pebble Beach spur on the Johnstone Trail. You’ll weave up about 300 feet through mixed forest for 1.5 miles. Go right at the top, and then take the Jepson Trail down through the ancient, craggy pines. This trail leads through the grove to the bike campground in the upper parking area. The grove’s name honors Willis Linn Jepson, a botanist from the University of California at Berkeley. More Stuff: The Jepson Trail also can be accessed from its high point, at Pierce Point Road, .25-mile before the park entrance.
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Lovely Shell Beach was made public in 1945, seven years before the rest of the park. Parking: Turn right off Sir Francis Drake less than 2 miles north of Inverness on Camino del Mar. Follow for less than a mile to the ample parking area. Walking down the Johnstone Trail, follow switchbacks along a split-rail fence bordered by sword ferns, under a luscious canopy of oaks, madrone, and redwoods. The sandy beach may remind some of a sunny day on a secluded nook in the Puget Sound.
What’s Best: Sweeping view trails on the pastoral uplands of the north peninsula “Cow Heaven” that lead down to a forested, sandy beach on the bay.
Parking: From Hwy. 1 between Pt. Reyes Station and Olema, turn west on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Continue through Inverness and veer right on Pierce Point Rd. Immediately past entrance to the Tomales State Park, veer right on Duck Cove-Marshall Beach Rd. Follow about 2.5 ml. to parking at road’s end. Agency: Point Reyes National Seashore
To Marshall Beach, head straight from the gate, up and over a rise through a dairyland vista. Cross a second gate to your right. The ranches of the peninsula are all historic, dating from the 1800s. The road then curves right, making gentle switchbacks down 300 feet to the beach. Nicely spaced cypress and pine trees buffer a sandy shore. When tides permit, you can walk north toward Tomales Beach, about .75-miles away. For Lairds Landing, a more active locale during pre-auto days when dairy products were shipped out Tomales Bay, take the road to the right from the trailhead gate. You contour around the other side of the head, dropping down to a coastal nook on the south side of Marshall Beach.
Bike: The roads to both Marshall Beach and Lairds Landing make excellent, if short, rides. A better option is to park at Pierce Point Road and pedal all the way on Duck Cove-Marshall Road, through the heart of Cow Heaven. Although you share the dirt road with cars, traffic is seldom an issue. After about 1.25 miles, just past L Ranch, you can veer right toward Sacramento Landing on another swerving slope down to a pine-framed cove on the bay. A right fork near the bottom heads towards Ducks Cove, while the left fork goes to the landing.