Just twenty miles to the northwest of San Francisco is where you will find beautiful Stinson Beach, which extends for 3.5 miles and is a wonderful place to seek relaxation on the California Coast. The picturesque setting of Stinson Beach California certainly encourages visitors to engage in relaxing beach walks, and for those who prefer a little more action, the Stinson Beach surf often offers waves that are ideal for surfing and body boarding.
Kayakers can give their upper body a workout while taking in views of the mountainous coast on the beach itself, the sand dollars and limpet shells wash in for the taking. Surfers and boogie boarders often rule the surf line (despite the occasional white shark encounter). All the parking is near the southern end of the strand, which is owned by the federal government. North of that, the County of Marin owns a stretch of it (technically called Upton’s Beach) and dogs are allowed there. Beyond that, to the mouth of Bolinas Lagoon, the beach is owned by the residents of the Seadrift subdivision.
There’s no direct public access to Seadrift Beach, and years of legal battles between various entities and Seadrift homeowners has yielded a compromise only a committee could love. Essentially, the public may use the beach, or at least the part below the mean high tide line (unmarked), and as long as they sort of keep moving. In practice, the arrangement works with few problems, which is surprising since on a clear on day, some 15,000 beachgoers might descend on the 1,000-person town.
In 1870, the first road was built along the Pacific coast from Sausalito, California, and a tent settlement sprang up amongst the willow trees at the beach, which gave rise to the town’s original name, Willow Camp. Sausalito was laid in 1871, and soon after surveyor Alfred Easkoot was renting tents on the beach to tourists while adopting the pose of a waggish sea salt. Within a decade, “Captain” Easkoot’s encampment was challenged by a resort built by Nathan Stinson, whose Willow Camp also included a dance floor.
Stinson would end up owning some 1,700 acres, including what’s become the town center. More than century later, perhaps Easkoot would be satisfied that at least the town’s creek carries his name
The Mill Valley and Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railroad opened in 1896, making Willow Camp more accessible. Visitors could ride the train to West Point Inn and then hike or arrange a stagecoach to take them to the beach. In 1906, refugees from the San Francisco earthquake came to the area and built some of the area’s first businesses. Stinson Beach became the official town name in 1916, in honor of the largest landowners, Rose and Nathan Stinson.
In 1939, the beach was sold to Marin County. It was transferred to the State of California in 1950, and was eventually transferred to the National Park Service in 1977. Stinson Beach is located at (37.89847, -122.63878), between Bolinas and Muir Beach. The CDP has a total area of 1.07 square miles (2.8 km²), of which, 1.06 square miles (2.7 km²) of it is land and 0.02 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (2%) is water.
Point Reyes Lighthouse, Point Reyes National Seashore
A 308 step walkway leads to this 1870 lighthouse, built high on a Point Reyes cliff. Whale-watching is very popular here January through March.
Bolinas Lagoon Preserve
Great egrets and great blue herons nest here each spring. Harbor Seals are also inhabitants of Bolinas Lagoon. They may be watched from a distance, but approaching the seals or harassing them in any way is a violation of federal law and is strictly enforced.
Mt. Tamalpais State Park
For more than a century visitors have enjoyed the attractions of the spectacular mountain towering over the bay north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Coast redwoods, some more than 500 years old, cover 560 acres, filling the area with a rich pine aroma. Trails through the shady groves pass markers describing the trees and their growth cycles.
Covering 12,000 acres, the Marin Headlands features well-marked hiking, biking and equestrian trails that cross high bluffs and grassy meadows.
Stinson Beach, CA climate is mild during summer when temperatures tend to be in the 60’s and cool during winter when temperatures tend to be in the 50’s.
The warmest month of the year is July with an average maximum temperature of 85.00 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is December with an average minimum temperature of 40.60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature variations between night and day tend to be relatively big during summer with a difference that can reach 31 degrees Fahrenheit, and fairly limited during winter with an average difference of 17 degrees Fahrenheit.
The annual average precipitation at Stinson Beach is 37.59 Inches. Winter months tend to be wetter than summer months. The wettest month of the year is January with an average rainfall of 7.32 Inches.
Total Population: 750
Median Age: 49.57 years
Average Household Income: $134,979
Average Total Household Expenditure: $88,224
The magnificent ridge that rises above Stinson is, like the beach below, federally owned as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A trail upward – the Matt Davis Trail – can be picked up near the community center. South of town along Highway 1 lies the bottom end of the two-plus-mile-long Steep Ravine Trail, which as the name implies, offers a easier hike downhill than up. Those wanting to tackle the trail from the other direction can start the descent from the Pantoll Ranger Station (altitude around 1,500 feet) on Panoramic Highway, which leaves Highway 1 in Stinson and scales the shoulder of Mount Tamalpais.
Stinson Beach is in the Bolinas-Stinson Union School District, the Tamalpais Union High School District, and the Marin Community College District. Students in primary grades (kindergarten – grade 2) attend Stinson Beach School, while elementary grade students (grades 3–8) attend Bolinas School. Stinson Beach is in the attendance area of Tamalpais High School, in Mill Valley, California.
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