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.
Less than one-hour hikes:
EARTHQUAKE TRAIL (1 km / 0.6 mi.)
A short paved loop explores the San Andreas Fault Zone. Interpretive signs describe the geology of the area. This trail begins at the southeast corner of the Bear Valley Picnic Area, just across the street from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
KULE LOKLO TRAIL (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 (100 yards) from the the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
WOODPECKER TRAIL (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 (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, a 20 minute drive from Bear Valley. From the parking lot, walk about 100 meters (100 yards) toward the beach. The Limantour Spit Trail branches off to the west just before you get to the sand dunes.
CHIMNEY ROCK TRAIL (2.5 km / 1.6 mi.) Advisory:Fissures Near the Chimney Rock Trail - updated December 22, 2015
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. Start this hike at the Chimney Rock Trailhead, near the Lighthouse, a 45-minute drive from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
ESTERO TRAIL 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 excelent birdwatching opportunities and the possibility of seeing bat rays and leopard sharks swimming just below the water's surface. This hike begins at the Estero Trailhead, which is located a short distance off of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. on the way to the Lighthouse. Allow 25 minutes driving time from Bear Valley.
ABBOTTS LAGOON (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. The Abbotts Lagoon Trailhead is 25 minutes driving time from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Follow Sir Francis Drake Blvd. north and west to the Pierce Point Road. Turn right and continue north. Abbotts Lagoon Trailhead is clearly marked on the left.
KEHOE BEACH TRAIL (1.9 km / 1.2 mi.)
A flat trail through Kehoe Marsh and out to Kehoe Beach. The only trail at Point Reyes where dogs are permitted. Keep dogs on leash at all times. (See our Pets page for more information.) You may encounter cows on this trail. Also look for elusive brush rabbits, bobcats and mountain lions which are occasionally sighted in this area. The trailhead for this hike is located along the Pierce Point Road, a 30-minute drive from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
TOMALES POINT TRAIL 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 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 make this hike more challenging. The Tomales Point Trailhead is at the end of Pierce Point Road, 40 minute driving time from Bear Valley.
McCLURES BEACH TRAIL (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. This hike's trailhead is located at the end of the Pierce Point Road, below Pierce Point Ranch, a 40-minute drive from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
One-to three-hour hikes:
DIVIDE MEADOW via BEAR VALLEY TRAIL (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, and Divide Meadow is a nice place to picnic in the sun. Begins at the Bear Valley Trailhead, at the south end of the Bear Valley Parking Lot.
MT. WITTENBERG LOOP (approx. 8 km / 5 mi.)
A steep 400 meter (1300 feet) climb to the highest point in the park (426 m / 1407 ft), with views of the Seashore and Olema Valley. The loop passes through a 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 top. From here, one may turn north along the Z Ranch Trail and then follow the Horse Trail back to the trailhead. Or continue along Mt. Wittenberg Trail to the junction with the Meadow and Sky trails, and then return to the Bear Valley Trail via the Meadow Trail.
MT. WITTENBERG and SKY CAMP FROM LIMANTOUR ROAD (6.9 km / 4.3 mi.)
An easier access to the highest point on the Point Reyes Peninsula with 225 meter (750 feet) elevation gain. Climb the Sky Trail with views of the ocean and continue through meadows and woods to the Horse Trail. Follow the Horse Trail to Z Ranch Trail and turn right. The Z Ranch Trail brings you to the heavily eroded trail which leads to the summit of Mt. Wittenberg. From near the summit, enjoy views of the Seashore and Olema Valley. Then continue to the junction of Sky and Meadow Trails and turn north on to the Sky Trail, which leads past Sky Camp before returning to the trailhead. The Sky Trailhead is located on Limantour Road about 10 minutes driving time from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
COAST - LAGUNA LOOP (8 km / 5 mi.)
An easy walk through coastal scrub and grassland, exposed to sun, fog and/or wind. Breath-taking ocean-views. Keep your eyes open for hawks and shorebirds. Begin on the Laguna Trail with a slight climb, then descend to Coast Camp on the Fire Lane Trail. Turn left on the Coast Trail for beach access at Coast Camp or complete the loop by following Coast Trail northwest. A flat, open stretch of trail leads along coastal bluffs and then through a riparian zone, and back to the trailhead near the Youth Hostel. The Laguna Trailhead is 15 minutes driving time from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Follow Limantour Road west. Turn left at the junction signed for the Hostel and Education Center. Continue past the Hostel to the Laguna Parking Lot, located on the right. The Coast Trail is subject to seasonal flooding. See Trail Closures and Advisories below for more information.
MUDDY HOLLOW TRAIL (6.4 km / 4 mi.)
Realigned and reopened in 2011 out of the valley's floodplain, 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. The Muddy Hollow Trailhead is 15 minutes driving time from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Follow Limantour Road west. Turn right at the junction signed for the Muddy Hollow Trail and follow the gravel road a short distance to the trailhead.
ABBOTTS LAGOON (5 km / 3 mi.)
See the description of Abbotts Lagoon in the "Less than one-hour hikes section" above.
BOLINAS RIDGE TRAIL (3 to 35 km / 2 to 22 mi.)
The best trail in the area for walking a dog, with views of Olema Valley. On a sunny day or a moonlit night, enjoy the expansive feeling of this open space. If you choose to continue beyond the first few kilometers, you will enter the redwood forest and eventually the chaparral. Turn around and retrace your steps whenever you are ready. You may hike with your dog on this trail. Dogs must be leashed at all times. (See our Pets page for more information.) The Bolinas Ridge Trailhead is east of Olema on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, about 5 minutes driving time from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
Three-to six-hour hikes:
SKY - BEAR VALLEY LOOP (17 km / 10.5 mi.)
A nice varied hike, through mixed Douglas fir forest, meadows and chaparral and also open grass 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) before turning right to ascend the Mt. Wittenberg Trail (400 m / 1300 ft. elevation change in 2.9 km / 1.8 mi.). Continue on the trail to the junction with the Sky Trail and 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. Head south on the Coast Trail to the Bear Valley Trail. Enjoy your last coastal view here, before returning via the Bear Valley Trail through beautiful buckeyes and mixed Douglas forest and along Coast Creek.
BEAR VALLEY TRAIL (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 is 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. Kelham Beach is accessible from the Kelham Beach Trail, 0.8 mi. north on Coast Trail.
WOODWARD VALLEY LOOP (approx. 21 km / 13 mi.)
This trail includes beautiful forest and spectacular coastal hiking. Begin at the Bear Valley Trailhead, climbing either Mt. Wittenberg or Meadow Trail to Sky Trail. Continue to Woodward Valley, one of the lushest, greenest trails in the park. Follow this all the way down to Coast Trail where you'll enjoy open ocean views as you head south to the Bear Valley 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 (12 km / 7 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. This hike begins the Muddy Hollow Trailhead, which is 15 minutes driving time from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Follow Limantour Road west. Turn right at the junction signed for the Muddy Hollow Trail and follow the gravel road a short distance to the trailhead.
ESTERO TRAIL TO DRAKES HEAD (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 last section of the trail seems more like a cattle trail than a human trail, but persevere. Many visitors enjoy having a picnic on Drakes Head. The view 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. This hike begins at the Estero Trailhead, which is located a short distance off of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. on the way to the Lighthouse. Allow 25 minutes driving time from Bear Valley.
TOMALES POINT TRAIL (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 kilometers (3 mi.) to Lower Pierce Point Ranch are well marked and maintained, but the last stretch can be overgrown with bush lupine and other shrubs, so long pants and long sleeves are a good idea. The journey all the way to the Point is worth it, for the view is unparalleled. Fog and wind can limit visibility and make this hike more challenging. The Tomales Point Trailhead is at the end of Pierce Point Road, 40 minute driving time from Bear Valley.
BASS LAKE (10 km / 6 mi.) and WILDCAT BEACH (17.6 km / 11 mi.)
The south end of Coast Trail begins with spectacular ocean views from far 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. Start this hike at the Palomarin Trailhead* at the end of Mesa Road, a 35-minute drive south of the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
ALAMERE FALLS (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!
Trails in Point Reyes National Seashore that pass through cattle pasture:
Bull Point Trail
Drakes Head Trail
Estero Trail (northeastern section from the Estero Trailhead to the White Gate Trail Junction
Sunset Beach Trail
White Gate Trail
Trails in the northern district of Golden Gate National Recreation Area that pass through cattle pasture:
Bolinas Ridge Trail
Tomales Bay Trail
Trail Closures and Advisories:
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.
New hazardous conditions on Arch Rock were reported to the park on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Fissures along the top of Arch Rock had weakened the cliff. Bluffs along the California coast are inherently unstable. They are prone to crumbling and sliding. It is very dangerous to climb or walk along the edge of cliffs. Be aware of falling rocks if walking near the base of a rock face.
Storms throughout the year can blow down trees throughout the wooded sections of or have flooded trails in Point Reyes National Seashore. If you encounter any downed trees, please report them to the Bear Valley Visitor Center (415-464-5100 x2 x5) or to Shawn Maloney (415-464-5154). Please provide as many details as possible, i.e., exact location of the tree on which trail, type of tree (bay, fir, etc.), whether it is bushy or straight, its size and diameter, whether it is on the ground or elevated, whether equestrians can get around it.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Storms in early January have knocked down trees across trails throughout the forested areas of Point Reyes National Seashore. We have recently received reports that the following trails are blocked by downed trees and are impassable by horse:
Old Pine Trail
Rift Zone Trail
Cross Marin Trail
As of July 24, 2011, the Cross Marin Trail is closed to all uses between the Jewel Trail junction and Devils Gulch due to a culvert blow-out a short distance south of the Jewel Trail Junction. Please do not use this section of trail until the trail has been repaired.
Olema Valley Trail seasonal flooding
During the winter and spring, the Olema Valley Trail is often flooded and very muddy in a number of locations and hikers on this trail in the winter and spring may wish to wear or bring along knee-high waterproof boots. There is a ford just south of the Teixeira trail junction at which the water is frequently knee-deep and opaque with silt, the current strong, and the bottom uneven and covered with unstable, loose stones. This section of Olema Valley Trail is subject to seasonal (winter/spring) flooding.
If you have recently hiked any of the trails in Point Reyes National Seashore and found the trail conditions other than what is reported here, please email us to let us know. Thanks for your assistance.
Temporary Trail Closures Please observe these trail closures. Visitors who disregard trail closures may 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 further repair. Thank you for your cooperation.
Indefinite or Permanent Trail Closures
Alamere Falls Trail:
Severely damaged due to storm damage and unmaintained. Hikers may still get to Alamere Falls by hiking to Wildcat Campground and then walking approximately 1600 meters (1 mile) south on the beach at low tide. more...
Crystal Lake Trail:
Double Point Trail:
Drakes Beach Trail:
Permanently closed. Hikers may still get to the mouth of Drakes Estero by walking east from the Ken Patrick Visitor Center on Drakes Beach at low tides.
West Pasture North Levee:
On September 15, 2008, the informal path along the West Pasture North Levee of the Giacomini Wetlands was permanently closed to allow removal of the levee, adjacent borrow ditch, and the tidegates/culverts on Fish Hatchery Creek.
The Woodpecker Trail was closed from July 14, 2015, until May 9, 2016, in order to to maintain public health and safety due to the presence of hazard trees (trees that have started to fall but didn't completely fall to the ground). Use of the trail by anyone was deemed unsafe until these hazards were mitigated. The first section of the trail was re-routed around the copse of trees at the start of the trail.
The Woodpecker Trail was closed in early June 2013 in order to install new stairs and repair portions of the trail.
Bear Valley Trail:
The Bear Valley Trail between the Mt. Wittenberg and Meadow trail junctions was closed from Monday, September 17, 2012, through the morning of Wednesday, October 3, 2012, in order to install a new culvert and repair the trail. The repairs came in under budget and ahead of schedule, so the trail was reopened on Wednesday, October 3, instead of on Saturday, October 6.
Coast Trail Reopened
As of June 19, 2012, the water which had been flooding the Coast Trail between the Point Reyes Hostel and the Coast Campground had drained away and the trail is now open.
The trail had become impassable due to water and mud and presented an unsafe condition for park visitors and was therefore closed on June 1, 2012. Even though the trail is once again open, NPS staff will continue to proceed to acquire all necessary permits for short-term repairs to the trail and also for a permanent fix. This section of Coast Trail is subject to seasonal (winter/spring) flooding.
Muddy Hollow Trail: As of late May 2011, the Muddy Hollow Trail, having been rerouted out of the valley's floodplain, is now open to the public.
The reroute of a 1.1 km (0.7 mile) section from Fir Top to the Stewart Trail/Ridge Trail junction was completed in late May 2009 and this section of the Greenpicker trail is now open to the public.
Kelham Beach Trail:
The repairs to the Kelham Beach Trail were completed on September 4, 2009. The access trail to the beach is now open to the public.
Giacomini Wetlands Trails:
Restoration work required the temporary closure of a couple trails at the south end of the Giacomini Wetlands. As of March 2, 2009, both the Olema Marsh Trail on the east side of Olema Marsh and the Lagunitas Creek Trail are open. We ask that users please stay on designated trails to reduce impacts to areas actively being restored for critical wildlife habitat. More information about trail closures may be found in the Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project: Restoration pages.
Estero Trail - Muddy Hollow Dam Removal: The Muddy Hollow Dam removal—which occurred between August 1 through October 31, 2008—resulted in the rerouting of the southeastern section of the Estero Trail. The new section of the Estero Trail was opened to the public on August 1, 2008. The eastern trailhead for the Estero Trail is now at the Muddy Hollow Road Trailhead, instead of at Limantour Beach. Please visit our Coastal Watershed Restoration Program Construction Updates page for more information.
(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.