What’s Best: Migratory waterfowl and shorebirds flourish around these two large lakes, set so close to the ocean that surf spray rises above the sand dunes at their western shore. Put this one on your bucket list.

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. Continue 3 ml. to trailhead parking on left. Agency: Point Reyes National Seashore


Except after heavy storms, when the dunes open and salt water mixes with fresh runoff, Abbotts Lagoon is comprised of two large lakes, the biggest nearly a mile long. They are joined together by a short stream. A low-lying bluff separates the North Wing of the lagoon, which can be seen from trailhead parking, from the South Wing, which is the larger. Grebes, terns, blackshouldered kites, ducks, several kinds of raptors, and the endangered snowy plover are some of the winged creatures to be seen soaring about or bobbing on the water.

For all hikes, start down the hard-packed, unpaved path from the parking area. After a little more than .25-mile, you’ll get to the Browbach Bench, set among the cattails. After the bench, the going becomes sandy, as the trail curves left toward the bluff. After a mile you reach the footbridge that crosses the stream that joins the lagoon’s two wings. For the Lagoon Bluff, go left at the bridge on a trail that winds about 200 feet up to the top of the bluff. You’ll be surprised at the size of South Wing, upon first sight.

For Abbotts Lagoon and Great Beach, continue straight across the footbridge, as the broad waters of South Wing come into view. With typical onshore wind gusts, you may get sand blasted while walking the .5-mile west along the shore. You cross a huge dune to the beach. The margins of the lagoon blush with wildflowers in the springtime. Be Aware: Plovers and other birds nest in the dune grasses during the spring and early summer; watch where you step.

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