On Monday, August 17, 2020, lightning started a wildfire, which was named the 4-5 Fire, north of the junction of Woodward Valley Trail and the Coast Trail. On Tuesday, August 18, a second fire, initially named the 4-6 Fire and later renamed the Woodward Fire, was found nearby and, aided by gusty winds, quickly grew in size. By Thursday, October 1, 2020, the Woodward Fire was 100% contained at 4,929 acres in size. The Woodward Fire was declared out on Tuesday, January 12, 2021.
Ecologists consider the Woodward Fire to be ecologically beneficial because it had a mix of burn severity. That means it burned with high intensity in some places, and other places it burned lightly. This type of burn is in contrast with some of our larger, hotter fires that consume everything in its path.
Even though the fire was 100% contained by October 1, 2020, fuels in the interior area of the fire continued to burn until January 12, 2021. The fuels that continued to burn were large tree trunks, stump holes, and other areas with smoldering fuels that are very difficult to access. These areas occasionally produced light smoke, but posed no threat to the containment lines.
Even after the fire was declared out, the park has continued to keep areas that are within and close to the fire footprint closed to visitation. There are several reasons why this area is closed. First, the area has yet to be thoroughly assessed for hazard trees. These are trees that have been burned and pose a falling threat to hikers. Second, trails have yet to be completely cleared of debris and rehabilitated. Park staff are currently working to repair trails and fix drainage structures on the trails within the burn area. These repairs leave fresh disturbed soils on the trails with minimal compaction. Any foot, bicycle, or equestrian traffic at this time damages—or can even destroy—these newly rebuilt drainage structures. Natural wetting and drying out of the soil will give us the compaction we need for long-term durability, but the soils need to remain undisturbed after park staff finish their work so that natural compaction process can happen. We ask for your patience as we work to improve the trails within the Woodward Fire zone.
The park remains hopeful that the closed area will be opened to the public in late spring or early summer. That is, if hazard trees have been removed and the hiking trails are safe for travel and have sufficiently hardened.
Safety reminder: Park visitors and area residents are asked to be mindful of park closures that remain in effect. While it might not look dangerous, if you were to go into a closed area, and something were to happen to you and you required assistance, everyone entering the area to assist you might be put in harm's way. Thank you for your continued patience during this extraordinary time!
Areas and trails closed to all visitors due to the Woodward Fire and/or hazard trees.
Two areas and the trails within these areas are currently closed to all visitor access until further notice due to the Woodward Fire and hazard trees. One area is bounded on the west by the Fire Lane Trail, on the east by the Sky Trail, and on the south by the Pacific Ocean. The second area is the area surrounding Kule Loklo and includes the trails leading to Kule Loklo. (Exceptions are listed below.)
Trails in the Burn Zone
In addition to the areas and trails in the Bear Valley/Kule Loklo area listed above, the following trails are closed until further notice:
Coast Trail from Coast Campground south to Kelham Beach Trail
Sculptured Beach Trail
Woodward Valley Trail
Sky Campground is closed to all entry until further notice. Sky Campground is closed to backcountry camping until further notice. Campers will receive a notification and refund via email if their reservations are cancelled by the park.
Visitors are welcome to walk southeast on Limantour Beach. Be aware that all areas above the beach's vegetation line from Coast Campground to Kelham Beach Trail are closed to all access until further notice, including Sculptured Beach Trail.
The following trails bordering the Woodward Fire Zone's closed areas described above are open:
Coast Trail from the Coast Trailhead on Laguna Road to the Coast Campground
Horse Trail (be aware that there are currently no open trails connecting Horse Trail near Kule Loklo to the Bear Valley Trailhead)
Z Ranch Trail
Mount Wittenberg Summit Trail
Mount Wittenberg Trail (open only to hikers; horses are prohibited until further notice)
Old Pine Trail
Coast Trail south of its junction with the Kelham Beach Trail
Kelham Beach Trail
On Friday, August 21, 2020, Point Reyes National Seashore was closed to all public use due to the Woodward Fire. Since then, roads, trails, facilities, and areas have been reopened when it was safe to do so.
On Thursday, September 10, 2020, most of the park was reopened, except for Limantour Road and the areas and trails south of Limantour Road, west of Highway 1, and north of the Stewart Trail. Campers with reservations for Tomales Bay Boat-in Camping permits were allowed to resume camping.
On Wednesday, September 23, 2020, Wildcat Campground reopened for camping.
On Friday, October 23, 2020, the Bear Valley parking lot, Bear Valley Picnic Area, the Earthquake Trail, and the Rift Zone Trail were reopened, as were Limantour Road, Limantour Beach, and the trails to the north and west of Limantour Road.
On Saturday, February 6, 2021, the Laguna Road, Laguna Trail, the Coast Trail from the Laguna Road to Coast Campground, the southern mile of the Fire Lane Trail, and the trails south of Bear Valley Trail and north of the Stewart Trail (except for the northern 0.6 miles of the Glen Trail and the Coast Trail between Bear Valley Trail and the North Glen-Coast Spur Trail) were reopened. Coast Campground reopened for camping.
On Thursday, March 4, 2021, Glen Campground reopened for camping.
On Friday, April 30, 2021, the Bear Valley Trail, the Coast Trail from the Bear Valley Trail to the Kelham Beach Trail, and the Kelham Beach Trail were reopened.
On Friday, May 7, 2021, the Baldy Trail, Horse Trail east of its junction with Z Ranch Trail, Kule Loklo Trail and Kule Loklo*, Meadow Trail, Mount Wittenberg Trail from Z Ranch Trail to Sky Trail, Mount Wittenberg Summit Trail, Old Pine Trail, Sky Trail south of the Meadow/Mount Wittenberg Trail junction, and Z Ranch Trail were reopened. (* The Kule Loklo area was closed on Thursday, May 13, 2021, due to hazard trees.)
On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, the Morgan Horse Ranch was reopened.
On Friday, May 21, 2021, the Fire Lane Trail between its intersections with the Laguna Trail and Sky Trail, the Horse Trail between its intersections with the Sky Trail and Z Ranch Trail, and the Sky Trail between the Sky Trailhead and its intersection with the Mount Wittenberg Trail were reopened.
On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, the Morgan Trail, the Woodpecker Trail, and the Mount Wittenberg Trail were reopened, although the Mount Wittenberg Trail remains closed to horses.
Respect the Closures
Burned Area Emergency Recovery (BAER) activity continues. Hazardous conditions exist. Conditions can change rapidly. Please visit these areas of Point Reyes National Seashore at a later, safer time in the future.
The Natural Laboratory is a series of podcasts produced by Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center Science Communication Interns, with support from Point Reyes National Seashore Association, exploring science from Bay Area National Parks. In "The Legacy of Fire at Point Reyes," Science Communication Intern Jerimiah Oetting dives into how the Woodward fire compares to its predecessor, the 1995 Vision fire. He also explores how climate change and fire suppression drive the increasing intensity of wildfire in the West. In "New Growth," Jerimiah speaks with fire ecologists and botanists about what that recovery will look like in the coming months and years, and what we can learn from Indigenous practices of managing the landscape with fire. In "How Wildlife Withstand Wildfires," Jerimiah speaks to park scientists to learn how certain vulnerable species might be impacted by wildfires.
Woodward Fire StoryMap
Learn more about the Woodward Fire by viewing the Woodward Fire StoryMap, created by Trisha Johnson, a GIS Analyst on the National Burned Area Emergency Response Team.
NBC Bay Area: Point Reyes Climate Hotspot: Climate Change Lengthens Wildfire Season (2 minutes 46 seconds) - January 28, 2021
Wildfire season used to begin in August and wrap up in November. In 2021, we've already had a red flag alert in January. Cal Fire says climate change is fueling this troubling trend, giving us an average of 75 extra burn days a year. NBC Bay Area meteorologist Rob Mayeda walks in the Woodward fire zone in Point Reyes with scientist Margaret Torn who examines what climate change is doing to the Earth that's sparking these wildfires.
O'Gallagher, Maritte J., Gregory A. Jones, Lorraine S. Parsons, Dave T. Press, Wende E. Rehlaender, Stephen Skartvedt, and Alison B. Forrestel. 2021. "2020 Woodward Fire case study: Examining the role of fire as an ecological process in a coastal California ecosystem." Parks Stewardship Forum 37(2): 331–340. Available at https://doi.org/10.5070/P537253239 (accessed 03 September 2021)
Public Fire Information
Marin County Public Hotline: 415-473-7191 (recorded message)
An interactive fire map for the Woodward Fire is available displaying evacuation warning areas, fire perimeter, satellite based thermal imagery, and other features. More features are in the works and will be added as they are finished.
Earlier Evacuation Orders and Warnings That Have Been Lifted or Reduced
At 6 pm on Friday, September 4, the Marin County Sheriff's Office, in collaboration with Marin County Fire Department, reduced the Monday, August 24 Evacuation Order for Silverhills Road, Fox Drive, and Noren Way to an Evacuation Warning. The evacuation center at the Marin Center was also closed. Evacuation warnings for Silverhills Road, Fox Drive, and Noren Way and Inverness Park and the Bear Valley area remained in effect until 4 pm on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
At noon on Saturday, August 29, 2020, the Evacuation Warning for the communities of Bolinas and Dogtown and for the Highway 1 corridor south of Five Brooks was lifted. The Palomarin, Ridge, McCurdy/Teixeira, Randall, and Five Brooks Trailheads and all trails within Point Reyes National Seashore remained closed until Thursday, September 10, 2020.
At 10:08 pm on Monday, August 24, 2020, the Marin County Sheriff's Office announced that the evacuation warning area was expanded to include the area east of Highway 1, north of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, west of Olema Hill/Bolinas Ridge, and south of Lagunitas Creek.
At 6:23 pm on Monday, August 24, 2020, the Marin County Sheriff's Office announced an evacuation order for Silverhills Road, Fox Drive, and Noren Way south of Inverness Park.
At 11:41 am on Friday, August 21, 2020, the Marin County Sheriff's Office announced an evacuation warning for the area west of Highway 1 and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard (northern intersection) to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The area included the communities of Olema, Inverness, Inverness Park and Sea Haven. The area south of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and west of the Bay Area Ridge Trail (aka Bolinas Ridge Trail), and north of the McCurdy Trail was also closed.
Disclaimer: Daily between 8 am and 4:30 pm, park website authors will update the alerts above with any new information that becomes available. After 4:30 pm and before 8 am, visit the Marin County Sheriff's Office's Nixle page to check whether any alerts pertaining to the Woodward Fire have been posted while park website authors are off-duty, as well as for additional emergency alerts that are in effect in Marin County. Park website authors will add any alerts that are issued overnight when they return to work at 8 am each morning.
Visit FIRESafe MARIN's Wildfire Evacuation Preparedness page to learn how to register to receive evacuation notices & fire information, to learn the difference between Evacuation Warnings and Evacuation Orders, tips on how to harden your home and create defensible space, and how to prepare to evacuate.
Webinar: Evacuation & Warnings – How To Survive a Wildfire
With the transition of incident management for the fire from the Northern Rockies National Incident Management Team 2 to the Great Basin Incident Management Team 4, information will still come from the National Seashore's Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Status update briefings in the morning also transitioned to Point Reyes National Seashore's Facebook page and will continue to be on Zoom.
Woodward Fire status briefing: every other day at ~9:30 am
Beginning on Thursday, September 10, 2020, Great Basin Incident Management Team 4 Press Briefings will be offered every other day (i.e., Saturday, September 12; Monday, September 14; Wednesday, September 16) through Wednesday, September 16.
ASL and captioning available on all platforms, Spanish interpretation available on Zoom. Each day, English recordings are posted to YouTube and Facebook, and Spanish recordings are posted to YouTube.
ASL y subtítulos disponibles en todas las plataformas, interpretación en español disponible en Zoom. Cada día se publican grabaciones en inglés y español en YouTube y Facebook, y en español en YouTube.
Watch on the Point Reyes National Seashore's Facebook page. (You do not need your own Facebook account to watch this briefing on the park's Facebook page.)
North Bay Incident Management Team Press Briefings
From Wednesday, August 19, 2020, through Sunday, August 23, 2020, the Marin County Fire Department, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Marin County Sheriff's Department held press briefings about the Woodward Fire. Press briefings were live streamed on Marin County Fire Department's Facebook page. View the North Bay IMT's press briefings that were offered on:
The Marin County Fire Department, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Marin County Sheriff's Department held a digital town hall on Saturday, August 22, 2020. The public were invited to submit questions in advance for park and fire officials to answer. The recording of the town hall is available on Facebook in only English and on YouTube in both English and Español.
We continue to receive generous donation offers and truly appreciate all of them. However, in order to keep all of our firefighters safe from potential exposure to COVID-19, we are not able to accept items from the community. If you would like to show support, please post "thank you" signs along roadways and in the community where the firefighters will see them. You may also consider making a donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation or a local charity.
415-464-5100 This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; shuttle bus system status; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.