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Ultimate Summer Escapes: The Best Dayhikes and Backpacking Trips Near You

Coming soon to your city: far-out adventures that are shockingly close to home.

©Brown W. Cannon III

The Golden Gate, as seen from its namesake national recreation area.

Weekend

Tomales Bay Kayak wild waters to a secret beach camp,

then top off your trip with fresh-shucked oysters.

In a region where scenic beauty is considered as much a basic right as organic baby arugula, the calm blue waters and boat-in-only white sand beaches of Tomales Bay still stand out. For a moderate 12-mile sea-kayaking excursion, launch from Blue Waters Kayaking (415-663-1743; www.bwkayak.com) in Marshall, paddle across the bay, then head north along the shore where camping is permitted anywhere you won’t disturb the wildlife. You’ll pass the elk fence that divides the Tomales Point peninsula into separate cow and elk grazing grounds, then float by Pelican Point, where Baja-based birds spend the summer. About 2 miles past the prominent 500-foot White Gulch cliffs, you’ll arrive at one of the bay’s best tent sites, recognizable by the inviting beach near a tide pool. A hiking trail leads over the ridge through yellow lupine and chaparral to a smaller beach frequented by abalone divers and seals. In the morning, paddle south, stopping at White Gulch, a prime elk-viewing spot. Have more time? Hike up the trail toward the Pierce Point Ranch for commanding views of the Pacific Ocean. Return to Marshall in time to feast on oysters at the Marshall Store (at the take-out), or reserve a BBQ and table at the nearby Hog Island Oyster Company and cook up your own.

Get There The town of Marshall is about 50 miles from San Francisco on CA 1.

Get Info Point Reyes National Seashore, (415) 464-5100; www.nps.gov/pore

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