Last updated: February 9, 2024
Distance: 7.4 miles (12 km) roundtrip, moderate
This loop hike passes through young woodlands, coastal scrub, and grassland within the Phillip Burton Wilderness. It offers views of Estero de Limantour and the possibility of seeing tule elk and other wildlife that call this area home. 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.
From the Muddy Hollow Trailhead, this loop offers a similar experience and views regardless of whether one follows it clockwise or counter-clockwise. However, just west of the trailhead, the Muddy Hollow Road Trail intersects with Muddy Hollow Creek. No bridge exists at this crossing, so hikers may get their feet wet while attempting to cross this ~8-foot-wide (2.4-meter-wide) creek, especially when the water level is high in the winter and spring. You may want to check out this crossing before starting your hike to determine which direction you will go. If you attempt to cross the creek at the start of the hike and you do get your feet wet, you may not enjoy the hike as much as you hike for the next 7.4 miles (12 km) with wet footwear. If you decide to cross the creek at the end of your hike, you won't have too much further to walk before you can change out of your wet footwear at your vehicle.
If you choose to hike the route clockwise, head south on the Muddy Hollow Trail for 0.3 miles (0.5 km) through a riparian (e.g., streamside) zone to the junction with Estero Trail. The Estero Trail heads west out of the valley floor through some coastal scrub and young Bishop pine woodlands up and over a 370-foot-high (112-meter-high) ridge before descending into another valley and crossing the Glenbrook Creek after 2.2 miles (3.5 km). 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 New Albion Ranch, which is significant as the first dairy on Point Reyes, perhaps in Marin County. All that remains of the ranch, however, are eucalyptus trees that were planted to protect the ranch from the wind.
Continue south 0.4 miles (0.6 km) toward the estero (which is Spanish for estuary) and Drakes Bay 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 1.1 miles (1.7 km). The forested ridge in the distance to the north is the northern end of Inverness Ridge, which reaches heights of 1282 feet (388 meters) at Mount Vision and 1336 feet (405 meters) at Point Reyes Hill. The route described on this page will ultimately follow along the western base of this ridge, but won't ascend to its crest.
At the Glenbrook Trail junction, you 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 2 miles (3 km) to your hike. Or continue straight along the ridge crest as the Glenbrook Trail leads 0.6 miles (1 km) north to the Muddy Hollow Road Trail. Turn right and follow the Muddy Hollow Road Trail as it meanders 2.3 miles (3.7 km) along the base of Inverness Ridge back to the trailhead.
The Bucklin and Bayview Trails connect with the Muddy Hollow Road Trail and offer routes to ascend to the crest of Inverness Ridge, which would add another ~4 to ~6 miles (6.4 to 9.6 km) to your hike.
Visit the park's Hiking at Point Reyes National Seashore page for hiking tips and information about trail etiquette and safety.
Visit the park's Trail Advisories and Closures page for current information about closed trails, trails blocked by trees, or other temporary hazards or advisories.
Allow 3 to 4 hours to hike the Estero–Glenbrook–Muddy Hollow Road Loop. Allow for more time if you wish to extend your hike by including the White Gate Trail or other routes.
Pets are prohibited on all of the trails described on this page. Visit the park's Pets page to learn where pets are welcome at Point Reyes National Seashore.
After turning onto Limantour Road, look for signs for the Muddy Hollow Trailhead after about 6 miles of driving. Turn right, and park in the small lot at the end of this road. Allow 15 minutes drive time from Bear Valley to the Muddy Hollow Trailhead.
The heaviest rainfall occurs in the winter months. Come prepared for rain and drizzle to possibly last for several days. In between winter rains, it is often sunny, calm, and cool.
Most spring days are windy and the Drakes Estero area frequently experiences stiff breezes. Expect cool temperatures in March. By late May and early June, temperatures can be quite pleasant, even warm.
Although there is very little rain during summer months, there is often dense fog throughout the day in July, August and September with temperatures often 20 degrees cooler than at Bear Valley.
The coastal areas of Point Reyes experience some of the clearest days in late September, October and early November. The occasional storm will start rolling through in late October, bringing clouds, wind, and rain. The strongest winds occur in November and December during occasional southerly gales.
Point Reyes National Seashore is open for day-hiking from 6 am to midnight.
This trail traverses rolling terrain over packed dirt surfaces, which may be wet and rutted in places. The trailhead parking lot is dirt/gravel. Just west of the Muddy Hollow Trailhead, the Muddy Hollow Road Trail intersects with Muddy Hollow Creek. No bridge exists at this crossing, so hikers may get their feet wet while attempting to cross this ~8-foot-wide (2.4-meter-wide) creek.
- point reyes national seashore
- point reyes
- phillip burton wilderness
- estero de limantour
- limantour estero
- muddy hollow
- muddy hollow trail
- muddy hollow trailhead
- estero trail
- glenbrook trail
- glenbrook ranch
- muddy hollow road trail
- tule elk
- cervus canadensis
- cervus canadensis nannodes
- coastal trail
- coastal hike
- over three hour hike