Coastal Trail in Point Reyes
16.8 miles     2300 ft
23 Jul 2011
Summary

A beautiful hike traversing the entire Coastal Trail in Point Reyes through two long beaches and a waterfall.

Location: Point Reyes National Seashore

Elevation Profile
Trailhead

Start Location

Location: (Palomarin Trailhead) Northern end of Mesa Road, Bolinas, CA 94924 . No street address. Parking area is visible in Google Maps if you zoom in sufficiently.

Directions: Palomarin Trailhead is at the northern dead-end of Mesa Road in Bolinas, CA. On Mesa Rd, about a mile before the trailhead, lies Point Reyes Bird Observatory. Their website has detailed driving directions. In brief, cross Golden Gate Bridge along 101 North → Exit on Highway 1 North → Left on Olema-Bolinas Rd → Right on Mesa Rd → drive all the way to Palomarin Trailhead.

Google Maps:

Parking Fees: None (last visited: July 2011)

Capacity: Tens of cars.

Latitude: 37.934095     Longitude: -122.747090

End Location

Location: 1390 Limantour Spit Rd, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956 . Parking area is visible in Google Maps if you zoom in sufficiently.

Directions: Please see directions by NorCalHostels or study Google Maps.

Google Maps:

Parking Fees: None (last visited: July 2011)

Capacity: Roadside parking for several cars.

Latitude: 38.043782     Longitude: -122.862682

Trip Planning

Trail Maps

» Many many maps by National Park Service: Good quality maps showing various trails in different parts of Point Reyes.

» Tom Harrison Trail Map: High quality contoured map showing various trails and mileages for different sections.

Route

Route: From Palomarin Trailhead in the south to Point Reyes Hostel in the north, the entire hike may be done along Coastal Trail. However, two sections may be replaced by beach walks (details below) — beach walks are recommended to make the hike more interesting. The last 2.8 mile section from Coast Camp onwards may be replaced by Fire Lane (1.0 miles) → Laguna Trail (0.8 miles) → paved road (0.2 miles), shortening the route by 0.8 miles.

  1. 2.8 miles to Bass Lake: Walk 2.8 miles along Coastal Trail. Look for an unmarked trail on the left taking you to Bass Lake. Swimming is permitted, water is said to be warm.
  2. 2.0 miles to Alamere Falls: Walk 1.4 miles along Coastal Trail. Look for a sign on the left that warns you: "Alamere Falls Trail — Unmaintained Trail — Dangerous Conditions". Walk about 0.6 miles along this trail to reach Alamere Falls. There is poison oak along this trail. However, the trail is popular. It is usually well maintained, so no bush-whacking is required. There is a small waterfall just before the final descent to the beach, which involves a scramble. Alamere Falls is guzzling with water in spring time after rains. In other seasons, the falls are there but with little water.
  3. 1.2 miles to Wildcat Camp: From Alamere Falls, you may simply walk 1.2 miles along the beach to Wildcat Camp. Alternately, you may climb back 0.6 miles to Coastal Trail, then walk 1.3 miles along Coastal Trail to reach Wildcat Camp. The beach walk is shorter by 0.7 miles and more pleasant.
  4. 3.9 miles to Arch Rock: From Wildcat Camp, climb up along Coastal Trail for 0.8 miles. Then turn left to continue along Coastal Trail for 2.9 miles until it intersects Bear Valley Trail. Then turn left and walk along Bear Valley Trail for 0.2 miles to reach Arch Rock, a popular destination in Point Reyes. Fantastic views of the coastline in both directions await you. From Arch Rock, you may descend onto the beach lying to the south of Arch Rock by following a steep trail going down. This trail crosses Coast Creek which flows throughout the year. Scrambling is necessary towards the end. In spring, when the creek has lots of water, scrambling could be dangerous. Once at the beach, the arch beneath Arch Rock is visible. Through the arch, a bird rock is visible, resulting in beautiful photos. In low and minus tide conditions, it is possible to walk further along the beaches on both sides.
  5. 3.4 miles to Sculptured Beach: From Arch Rock, walk 0.2 miles along Bear Valley Trail, then turn left and walk 3.0 miles along Coastal Trail. Look for a sign on the left marking a trail to Sculptured Beach. Walk 0.2 miles along this trail to reach the beach. Note: From Arch Rock, when walking back along Bear Valley Trail, before you reach the marked intersection with Coastal Trail, there is an unnamed trail going north, meandering next to the cliffs. In July 2011, we followed this trail, having mistaken it for the Coastal Trail. Soon, the trail became fainter and fainter. Eventually, we had to bush-whack for about ten minutes to get back onto Coastal Trail.
  6. 1.0 miles to Coast Camp: From Sculptured Beach, you may walk 0.8 miles along the beach to reach Coast Camp, followed by 0.2 miles along an unnamed trail to reach Coast Trail. Look for a creek that flows into the ocean. Walk along the creek away from the beach to reach Coast Trail.

    From Sculptured Beach, an alternate route to Coast Camp is to walk back 0.2 miles along the Sculptured Beach Trail, then walk 1.3 miles along Coastal Trail.

    The beach walk is shorter by half a mile and more pleasant.

  7. 2.0 miles to Point Reyes Hostel: From Coast Camp, you may walk 1.0 miles along Fire Lane, then 0.8 miles along Laguna Trail, then 0.2 miles along a paved road to reach Point Reyes Hostel. Alternately, you may walk 2.8 miles along Coastal Trail to reach the same destination.

Notes: Details at ProTrails. An awesome description of this route is at Scaruffi.

© Copyright 2008—2020, Gurmeet Manku.