Trail Guide & Suggested Hikes

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Below are brief descriptions of the most popular hikes found at Point Reyes National Seashore. With close to 240 kilometers (150 miles) of hiking trails, these are just a few of the routes visitors can follow while visiting the park. Feel free to use the trail maps on our Maps page to plot your own course. All listed distances are round trip. Additional information and tips about hiking may be found on our Hiking at Point Reyes National Seashore page.

For directions to trailheads, visit our Directions to Park Destinations page. If you are starting your hike from the Bear Valley area, please park your vehicle(s) in the gravel parking lot on the left (east) side of the access road close to the Bear Valley Trailhead, not in the paved parking lot adjacent to the Bear Valley Visitor Center. (Bear Valley Map - 427 KB PDF)

Trail Advisories and Closures

Please observe all trail closures and barriers. Trails are closed for a variety of reasons, such as for visitor safety, to protect endangered species, to prevent erosion, and/or to allow new sections of trail to harden. Visitors who disregard trail closures may endanger themselves and any potential rescuers, harm threatened and endangered species, exacerbate erosion, or prevent new sections of trail from properly hardening, which results in the degradation of the trail surface, which in turn may require the closing of the trail for repair. Thank you for your cooperation.
Visit our Trail Advisories and Closures for current information.

Less than one-hour hikes:

Earthquake Trail

Distance: 1 km / 0.6 mi.
A short paved loop explores the San Andreas Fault Zone. Interpretive signs provide information about the San Andreas Fault, the 1906 earthquake, and the geology of the area. This trail begins at the southeast corner of the Bear Valley Picnic Area, just across the access road from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Kule Loklo Trail

Distance: 1.3 km / 0.8 mi.
A short path leads up to a replica of a Coast Miwok Indian village. Interpretive signs briefly describe Coast Miwok culture and history and the structures in the village. From Kule Loklo, return on the same trail, or continue around the horse pasture to return via the Morgan Horse Ranch. This trail begins at the north end of the Bear Valley Parking Lot, about 100 meters (110 yards) from the the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Woodpecker Trail

Distance: 1.1 km / 0.7 mi.
This loop trail explores the beautiful local forest and meadow ecosystems of Bear Valley. An interpretive brochure describing some plants and animals you may see can be obtained at the trailhead or at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. This trail begins at the Bear Valley Trailhead, at the south end of the Bear Valley Parking Lot.

Limantour Spit Trail

Distance: 3.2 km / 2 mi.
Carry binoculars and a field guide to birds as you walk along the crest of Limantour Spit. Many species of birds may be found on the mudflats of Limantour Estero to the north and on the sandy beach of Drakes Bay to the south. Harbor seals are frequently seen poking their heads up out of the water beyond the breakers. Start this hike at the Limantour Beach parking lot. From the parking lot, walk about 320 meters (350 yards) toward the beach. The Limantour Spit Trail branches off to the west just before you get to the sand dunes. The trail is paved (but possibly covered in sand) for about 400 meters (0.25 miles). Beyond the pavement, you will be walking on loose sand and winding your way along a narrow path between the dune vegetation. Allow 20 minutes driving time from Bear Valley.

Estero Trail

Distance to the bridge across Home Bay: 3.2 km / 2 mi.
This relatively easy trail through open grassland and an old Christmas tree farm offers excellent birdwatching opportunities and the possibility of seeing bat rays and leopard sharks swimming just below the water's surface in Home Bay. This hike begins at the Estero Trailhead, which is located a short distance off of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard on the way to the lighthouse. Allow 25 minutes driving time from Bear Valley.

Elephant Seal Overlook Trail

Distance: 0.8 km / 0.5 mi.
From the Chimney Rock parking lot, follow the driveway downhill and to the left. After 120 meters (400 feet), turn off of the paved driveway onto the relatively level gravel path. The path travels along the bluff top with views of Drakes Bay and Drakes Beach before terminating at the Elephant Seal Overlook. Allow 45 minutes driving time from Bear Valley. Visit our Elephant Seals and Viewing Elephant Seals for more information.

Chimney Rock Trail

Distance: 2.5 km / 1.6 mi.
A spectacular hike with views of Drakes Bay and the Pacific Ocean and renowned for great spring wildflowers. Rocky cliffs drop off steeply to the water, so there is no beach access. From January through May, look for migrating whales from the point. Fog and wind can make this hike challenging. Allow 45 minutes driving time from Bear Valley.
Check out our Chimney Rock page for more information about visiting this beautiful location.
Advisory: Stick to the official trail and stay away from the bluff tops. Every now and then, with little to no warning, coastal erosion results in cliff faces collapsing. Fissures Near the Chimney Rock Trail - updated December 22, 2015

Abbotts Lagoon

Distance: 3.2 km / 2 mi.
An easy stroll through open grasslands and coastal scrub to a bridge crossing the short stream connecting a couple of the lagoons, with good spring wildflowers and excellent birdwatching, especially in the fall and winter. If you wish, you can continue out to the Great Beach, an extra 0.9 km (0.5 mi.) walking on sand, before returning via the same trail. Allow 25 minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Abbotts Lagoon Trailhead. The trailhead for this hike is located along the Pierce Point Road.

Kehoe Beach Trail

Distance: 1.9 km / 1.2 mi.
A flat trail through Kehoe Marsh and out to Kehoe Beach. This is the only trail within Point Reyes National Seashore where dogs are permitted. Keep dogs on leash at all times. (See our Pets page for more information.) Look for elusive brush rabbits, bobcats, and mountain lions, which are occasionally sighted in this area. Allow 30 minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Kehoe Beach Trailhead. The trailhead for this hike is located along the Pierce Point Road.

Tomales Point Trail

Distance to Windy Gap: 3.2 km / 2 mi.
This open trail through the Tule Elk Reserve offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and is a prime wildlife viewing trail. The trail to Windy Gap is relatively level. At Windy Gap, one can look east down into White Gulch where there is a spring to which the tule elk are attracted. Hikers wanting to hike further can continue another 6 km (3.7 miles) to the north tip of Tomales Point. See the description in the "Three-to six-hour hikes" section below for more information. Fog can limit visibility and and wind can make this hike more challenging. Allow 35 minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Tomales Point Trailhead, located at the north end of Pierce Point Road.
Check out our Tomales Point, Pierce Point Ranch, and the Tule Elk Reserve page for more information about visiting this beautiful location.

McClures Beach Trail

Distance: (1.3 km / 0.8 mi.)
A rugged trail descends moderately steeply down a ravine to the ocean. McClures Beach is contained within a beautiful cove backed by rocky cliffs, but watch out for tidal fluctuations and dangerous surf. Allow 35 minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the McClures Beach Trailhead, located at the end of the Pierce Point Road, below Pierce Point Ranch to the west.

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One- to three-hour hikes:

Divide Meadow via Bear Valley Trail

Distance: 5.1 km / 3.2 mi.
A casual stroll through mixed Douglas fir forest and along Bear Valley Creek to an open grassy meadow. Several benches along the way offer great resting spots in the shade. Divide Meadow is a nice place to picnic in the sun. The hike begins at the Bear Valley Trailhead, located at the south end of the Bear Valley Parking Lot.

Mt. Wittenberg Loop

Distance: approx. 8 km / 5 mi.
This hike features a steep 400 meter (1300 feet) climb to the highest point in the park (426 m / 1407 ft), with a few limited views of the seashore and Olema Valley near the ridge crest. The loop passes through a dense mixed Douglas fir and oak forest and several open meadows. Start at the Bear Valley Trailhead and follow the Bear Valley Trail south for 0.3 km (0.2 mi.). Turn right on to the Mt. Wittenberg Trail and climb all the way to the Z Ranch-Mt. Wittenberg trail junction along the ridge crest. From this junction, a 0.6 km (0.4 mi.) trail leads to the summit of Mt. Wittenberg. The once unobstructed views from near the summit have, since 2000, become obstructed by dense Douglas fir thickets that sprouted shortly after the 1995 Vision Fire. From the Z Ranch-Mt. Wittenberg trail junction, one may turn north along the Z Ranch Trail and then follow the Horse Trail back to the trailhead. Or, if one continues along Mt. Wittenberg Trail to the junction with the Meadow and Sky trails, one may be rewarded (weather dependent) with views looking west across the peninsula to the Pacific Ocean. From the Meadow-Sky trail junction, descend the Meadow Trail to the Bear Valley Trail. Turn left to return to the Bear Valley Trailhead.

Mt. Wittenberg and Sky Camp from Limantour Road

Distance: 6.9 km / 4.3 mi.
This hike provides easier access to the highest point on the Point Reyes Peninsula with only 225 meters (750 feet) of elevation gain. Climb the Sky Trail with some limited views of the ocean and continue through the woods to the Horse Trail. Follow the Horse Trail to Z Ranch Trail and turn right. The Z Ranch Trail brings you to the 0.6 km (0.4 mi.) trail which leads to the summit of Mt. Wittenberg. The once unobstructed views from near the summit have, since 2000, become obstructed by dense Douglas fir thickets that sprouted shortly after the 1995 Vision Fire. However, as one continues from the Z Ranch-Mt. Wittenberg trail junction to the junction of Sky and Meadow Trails, there are locations from which one may look west across the peninsula to the Pacific Ocean (weather dependent). From the Sky-Meadow trail junction, turn north on to the Sky Trail, which leads past Sky Campground before returning to the trailhead. Allow ten minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Sky Trailhead, which is located along Limantour Road.

Laguna-Coast Loop

Distance: 8 km / 5 mi.
A relatively easy walk through coastal scrub and grassland offers some breath-taking ocean views, but can be exposed to sun, fog, and/or wind. Keep your eyes open for hawks and shorebirds. This hike begins on the Laguna Trail with a slight climb and then descends to the Coast Campground via the Fire Lane Trail. Turn left on the Coast Trail for beach access at the Coast Campground, or complete the loop by following the Coast Trail northwest. A flat, open stretch of trail leads along the tops of coastal bluffs and then through a riparian (e.g., streamside) zone, and back to the trailhead near the hostel. Allow fifteen minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Laguna Trailhead, which is located off of Limantour Road. The Coast Trail is subject to seasonal flooding. Visit our Trail Advisories and Closures page for more information.

Muddy Hollow Trail

Distance: 6.4 km / 4 mi.
Realigned out of the valley's floodplain and reopened in 2011, the Muddy Hollow Trail offers an easy hike with opportunities to see diverse bird life and tule elk. Following the path downstream through riparian habitat, hikers will eventually arrive at Estero de Limantour and Limantour Beach. Allow fifteen minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Muddy Hollow Trailhead, which is located off of Limantour Road.

Abbotts Lagoon Trail

Distance: 5 km / 3 mi.
An easy stroll through open grasslands and coastal scrub with good spring wildflowers and excellent birdwatching, especially in the fall and winter. A bridge crossing the short stream connecting a couple of the lagoons is located 1.6 km (1 mi.) along the trail. Continue an extra 0.9 km (0.5 mi.) walking on sand along the northern edge of the western-most and largest of the lagoons to reach the Point Reyes Beach. From here, one can walk for miles to the north or south along the beach, or return to the parking lot via the same trail one followed to reach the beach. Allow 25 minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Abbotts Lagoon Trailhead. The trailhead for this hike is located along the Pierce Point Road.
Notice: The Point Reyes Beach between Abbotts Lagoon and the North Beach parking lot is closed to all access on weekends and federal holidays from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend due to nesting snowy plovers. more...

Bolinas Ridge Trail

Distance: 3 to 35 km / 2 to 22 mi.
This is the best trail in the area for walking a dog. On a sunny day or a moonlit night, enjoy the expansive feeling of this open space offering views of Olema Valley. If you choose to continue beyond the first few kilometers, you will enter a redwood forest and eventually chaparral habitat at the southern end of the trail. Turn around and retrace your steps whenever you are ready. You may hike with your dog on this trail. Dogs must be on a six-foot or shorter leash at all times. (See our Pets page for more information.) Allow five minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Bolinas Ridge Trailhead, which is east of Olema on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.

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Three- to six-hour hikes:

Bear Valley Trail

Distance: 13.1 km / 8.2 mi.
Probably the single most popular trail in the park, the Bear Valley Trail is the most direct walk to the ocean from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Begin at the Bear Valley Trailhead, at the south end of the Bear Valley Parking Lot. This pleasant stroll through mixed Douglas fir forest and along Bear Valley Creek to Divide Meadow and along Coast Creek beyond Divide Meadow is largely sheltered from sun, wind, and coastal fog. Arch Rock was an overlook point with no beach access. NOTICE: The Arch Rock trail has been closed until further notice due to the arch's collapse as a result of coastal erosion. If one were to hike 1.5 km (0.9 mi.) north on the Coast Trail, one would be able to descend to Kelham Beach via the 150 m (500 ft.) long Kelham Beach Trail.

Sky-Bear Valley Loop

Distance: 17 km / 10.5 mi.
A nice varied hike, through mixed Douglas fir forest, meadows, and coastal scrub with coastal views and beach access. Begin at the Bear Valley Trailhead, at the south end of the Bear Valley Parking Lot. Follow the Bear Valley Trail for 0.3 km (0.2 mi). Turn right on to the Mt. Wittenberg Trail and climb (400 m / 1300 ft. elevation change in 2.9 km / 1.8 mi.) all the way to the Z Ranch-Mt. Wittenberg trail junction along the ridge crest. From this junction, a 0.6 km (0.4 mi.) trail leads to the summit of Mt. Wittenberg. The once unobstructed views from near the summit have, since 2000, become obstructed by dense Douglas fir thickets that sprouted shortly after the 1995 Vision Fire. From the the Z Ranch-Mt. Wittenberg trail junction, continue along the Mt. Wittenberg trail to the junction with the Sky Trail. Follow the Sky Trail south through the forest all the way to the Coast Trail. A thirty-minute detour to the north on the Coast Trail will bring you to Kelham Beach. Otherwise, head south on the Coast Trail to the Bear Valley Trail. Enjoy your last coastal view here, before returning via the Bear Valley Trail along Coast Creek through beautiful buckeyes and mixed Douglas forest.

Woodward Valley Loop

Distance: approx. 21 km / 13 mi.
This trail includes beautiful forest and spectacular coastal hiking. Begin at the Bear Valley Trailhead, climbing either the Mt. Wittenberg or the Meadow Trail to the Sky Trail. Continue south along the Sky Trail to the Woodward Valley, one of the lushest, greenest trails in the park. Follow the Woodward Valley all the way down to the Coast Trail before heading south to the Bear Valley Trail. Open ocean views are plentiful along the last 0.8 km (0.5 mi.) of the Woodward Valley Trail and along the length of the Coast Trail. Beach access is marked along your way at both Sculptured Beach and Kelham Beach. Both are beautiful and remote beaches. From the Coast-Bear Valley Trail junction, follow Bear Valley Trail east and north along a gentle grade through beautiful buckeyes, oaks, and Douglas firs back to the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Estero-Glenbrook-Muddy Hollow Road Loop

Distance: 12 km / 7.4 mi.
This loop offers views of Estero de Limantour and the possibility of seeing tule elk. It is also a great hike for spring wildflowers. This area was burned by the 1995 Vision Fire, and Bishop pine trees have since started encroaching on what had previously been open grassland and coastal scrub. The loop offers a similar experience and views regardless of whether one follows it clockwise or counter-clockwise. If one were to do the route clockwise, one would head south on the Muddy Hollow Trail for 0.5 km (0.3 mi.) through a riparian (e.g., streamside) zone to the junction with Estero Trail. The Estero Trail head west out of the valley floor through some coastal scrub up and over a ridge before descending into another valley and crossing the Glenbrook Creek. There may be standing water on the trail in the Glenbrook Creek area during winter and spring. Just beyond the Glenbrook Creek is the site of the Glenbrook Ranch. All that remains of the ranch are eucalyptus trees that were planted to protect the ranch from the wind. Continue south 0.6 km (0.4 mi.) toward the estero before making a sharp bend to the north. The trail runs fairly straight along a low ridge crest before intersecting with the Glenbrook Trail in 1.7 km (1.1 mi.). One could turn left to stay on the Estero Trail and return via the White Gate and Muddy Hollow Road trails; doing so would add an extra 3 km (2 mi.) to one's hike. Or continue straight along the ridge crest as the Glenbrook Trail leads 1 km (0.6 mi.) north to the Muddy Hollow Road Trail. Turn right and follow the Muddy Hollow Road Trail as it meanders 3.7 km (2.3 mi.) back to the trailhead. There is not a bridge across the Muddy Hollow Creek just west of the trailhead and one may get their feet wet while attempting to cross the creek when the water level is high in winter and spring. Allow fifteen minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Muddy Hollow Trailhead, which is located off of Limantour Road.

Estero Trail to Drakes Head

Distance: 15 km / 9.4 mi.
This trail through open grassland offers outstanding views of Drakes and Limantour Esteros, and of the locally rich bird life. The first section of the trail is through grasslands before skirting along the northern edge of and then cutting through an abandoned Christmas tree farm. An old, breached stockpond dam is located 1.8 km (1.1 mi.) from the trailhead at the head of Home Bay. A bridge spanning the breach offers a good location to watch from birds, bat rays, and leopard sharks. Beyond Home Bay, the trail leads up and over a couple small headlands, which are separated by valleys in which there are stockponds that attract waterfowl, as well as cows. Please be sure to leave gates as you find them: if they are closed, please close them after passing through. The Sunset Beach Trail branches to the right 4 km (2.5 mi.) from the trailhead; follow it 2.1 km (1.3 mi) to get to Sunset Beach, which is more of a wetland now, rather than a beach. Or, stay on the Estero Trail as it turns left and heads up a ridge away from Drakes Estero. The last couple sections of the route seems more like a cattle trail than a human trail, but persevere and look for markers to differentiate between the cattle paths and the hiking trail. After 1 km (0.6 mi.), turn right on to the Drakes Head Trail at the junction of a number of fencelines adjacent to a small corral and abandoned, circular, concrete water trough. There will be abundant views of Estero de Limantour to the east as one heads south 2 km (1.3 mi.) south to Drakes Head. The view looking down into the Estero on a clear day is spectacular, with the possibility of seeing bat rays and leopard sharks swimming just below the water's surface. Allow twenty-five minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Estero Trailhead, which is located a short distance off of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. on the way to the Lighthouse.

Tomales Point Trail

Distance: 15 km / 9.5 mi.
This open trail through the Tule Elk Reserve offers spectacular views of Tomales Bay, Bodega Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. It is also a prime wildlife viewing trail, as it is remote and the tule elk are enclosed in this reserve. The first 5 km (3 mi.) to the Lower Pierce Point Ranch site are well marked and maintained, but the last stretch can be overgrown with bush lupine and other shrubs, so wearing long pants and long sleeves are a good idea. The journey all the way to the Point is worth it, for the views can be spectacular. Fog and wind can limit visibility and make this hike more challenging. Allow thirty-five minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Tomales Point Trailhead, which is located at the end of Pierce Point Road.
Notice: Please see the advisory about the collapse of part of the bluff near the north end of Tomales Point.

Bass Lake and Wildcat Beach

Distance: 10 km / 6 mi. to Bass Lake and 17.6 km / 11 mi. to Wildcat Beach
The south end of Coast Trail begins with spectacular ocean views from high above the surf. It can be windy and exposed, with only occasional canopy overhead. In the summer, look for salmonberries and thimbleberries. Bass Lake is a popular, but unofficial, swimming spot; access can be challenging and lined with poison oak and there are no lifeguards—swim at your own risk. If you choose to continue to Wildcat you'll be rewarded with ocean and lake views and a beautiful beach. From either destination, one returns via Coast Trail. Allow thirty-five minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Palomarin Trailhead* at the end of Mesa Road.

Alamere Falls

Distance: minimum 20.8 km / 13 mi.
Alamere Falls is a beautiful waterfall deep within the Phillip Burton Wilderness. Alamere Falls is a dramatic sight as it cascades over a ~30 foot tall cliff onto the south end of Wildcat Beach. To visit Alamere Falls safely, Point Reyes National Seashore recommends hiking to Wildcat Campground and, from there, walking 1.6 km (1 mile) south on Wildcat Beach during a low tide. Many trails lead to Wildcat Campground, but the most commonly used routes are: the 8.8-km (5.5-mile) hike from the Palomarin Trailhead* via the Coast Trail; the 10.1-km (6.3-mile) hike from the Bear Valley Trailhead via the Bear Valley, Glen, and Stewart Trails; or the 10.7-km (6.7-mile) hike from the Five Brooks Trailhead via the Stewart Trail. more...

* Please be aware that on most weekends throughout the year, the parking lot at the Palomarin Trailhead fills up very early in the morning, and visitors arriving late in the morning or in the afternoon may be turned away. If you wish to visit Alamere Falls or other locations accessed via the Palomarin Trailhead, arrive early, or consider visiting mid-week. Check the park's Facebook page and/or Twitter feed for updates on crowded weekends!

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Last updated: November 17, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Phone:

(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.

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