Last updated: September 16, 2022
Distance to the footbridge at the head of Home Bay: 2.4 mi. (3.8 km) roundtrip
From the Estero Trailhead at its northwestern end, the Estero Trail heads south through brush-spotted grasslands for 0.6 miles (1 km). The trail then skirts along the northern edge of an abandoned Christmas tree farm before turning south to pass among the Monterey pines. Keep your eyes and ears open for owls. After another 0.6 miles (1 km), the trail arrives at Home Bay, the head of which was dammed by ranchers to create a stock pond. More recently, the dam was breached and the trail now traverses along the crest of the earthen dam. A footbridge with benches was constructed at the location of the breach. The bridge is a great location to look for birds—egrets and herons roost and nest in the pines and shorebirds and waterfowl abound in the estero (which is Spanish for estuary). One may also observe bat rays and leopard sharks in the water below the bridge.
While the Estero Trail continues much further, potentially to Drakes Head or Sunset Beach or beyond, many hikers desiring a short, easy hike turn around at the footbridge and return to the trailhead.
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 45 to 60 minutes to walk to and from the footbridge at Home Bay. Allow for more time to watch for birds and other wildlife or to botanize.
Pets are prohibited on the Estero Trail. Visit the park's Pets page to learn where pets are welcome at Point Reyes National Seashore.
The Estero Trailhead is located off of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. When driving out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, look for signs for the Estero Trail. Turn left onto Home Ranch Road—a somewhat degraded asphalt road—and follow it for about a mile until you see a parking lot and vault toilet building on your right. Allow 20 minutes driving time from Bear Valley to the Estero Trailhead.
Directions to Bear Valley
Directions from Bear Valley to the Estero 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 short grass and packed dirt surfaces. With the exception of some ruts and animal holes, the trail surface is largely flat and even for the first 1.2 miles (1.9 km). The trailhead parking lot is dirt/gravel and the vault toilets do not meet accessibility standards.