When you think of national parks, you don't often think of national seashores but the US has 10 of em, one of which is Point Reyes located in NorCal. On my recent trip up the coast, the group I was traveling with decided to spend some time at Point Reyes (pronounced "race" but I was pronouncing it "Point McGillicutty" for some reason).
In the Winter season, there are usually road closures so we were limited to trails by the visitor's center which was perfect as we found the Bear Valley trail which is a must do if you are doing the Point.
The trail for the most part is level with only modest elevation gains/losses which means a LOT of people are going to be on the trail with ya.
I usually prefer loop trails because you get to see different parts of the area and my initial disappointment in this being an "out and back" trail quickly disappeared because you go through several climates on the trail which gives you all the variety you need.
The first part of the trail is rather parkland in nature and you have to suck up as much warmth as possible because the next part of the trail is like a rain forest and if you can imagine a rain forest in Winter, you know it will be cold. However, this section has its beauties from its moss covered trees:
To its hidden streams along the trail:
To its mystifying forests:
The trail packs a lot of visual punch in the first 1.50 miles. The next section of the trail begins in a meadow ringed with pine trees which makes for a good rest stop.
From there on you move into a more of a piney environment while keeping your gradual uphill climb.
Interestingly, the closer to the ocean that you get, the more piney the trail becomes and as you make your way to Arch Rock (the "summit" of the trail)
the more the forest comes to meet ya
Once you have had your fill of sightseeing and greedy seagulls
you head back the way you came. This trail is the most popular one in the park but I highly recommend exploring the rest of the Point and I am willing to bet they have lots of great camping given the amount of backpackers I saw on the trail.
If you are interested in further info on this trail check out the link: http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/hiking_guide.htm