Point Reyes National Seashore, National Park Service,
Excellent ocean views and wildlife watching (lots of tule elk) on this 9.5 mile out and back hike to the tip of Tomales Point.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 9.5 mile out and back hike is moderate. Trailhead elevation is about 300 feet, and the hike has a rolling profile, climbing to 470 feet, descending to 135 feet, climbing to 250 feet, and dropping to 80 feet. You'll face those same hills on the return leg, and all the elevation changes do add up. The middle 2 miles of the hike are mostly through loose sand. Total elevation change is about 1300 feet.
Wide dirt trail that shifts to loose sand as the route reaches the turn-around point.
From US 101 in Marin County, exit Sir Francis Drake/San Anselmo. Drive west on Sir Francis Drake about 20 miles, to the junction with CA 1, turn right, drive 0.1 mile, and then turn left onto Bear Valley Road. After about 2 miles, Bear Valley Road ends at Sir Francis Drake; turn left. Continue on Sir Francis Drake about 5.5 miles, then turn right onto Pierce Point Road. Drive about 9 miles on Pierce Point Road to the signed Tomales Point Trailhead, a short distance from McClures Beach, at the end of the road.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Pay phone, stores, and restaurants back on Sir Francis Drake in Inverness. Gas in Point Reyes Station. There are overnight accommodations available on the eastern fringes of the park, including a handful of motels in Inverness, and numerous bed and breakfasts just off Sir Francis Drake. Point Reyes has several hike-in campgrounds -- inquire at the Point Reyes Ranger Station in Bear Valley, or read more about the options here. No car camping in the park. Point Reyes Hostel, off Limantour Road, is an inexpensive lodging option. Read my page describing Point Reyes hikes, accommodations, food, and more.
No entrance or parking fees. Small dirt parking lot, with some overflow along the road. No water, toilets, or designated handicapped parking. Wheelchairs may be able to navigate a short distance on the trail, but not in or just after wet weather. There are pit toilets down the road at the McClures Beach trailhead. There is a map on an information signboard and a pay phone. The Bear Valley Visitor Center (look for the sign on Bear Valley Road) has maps and drinking water. There is no direct public transportation to this trailhead.
Trails are open to hikers and equestrians only. No dogs.
The Official Story:
Point Reyes National Seashore website
Bear Valley Visitor Center (Ranger Station) 415-464-5100
This hike is described and mapped in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco, by Jane Huber (yup, that's me, the creator of this website). Order this book from Amazon.com.
Download the park map pdf from NPS
Other Point Reyes maps from NPS
Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of this hike.
Point Reyes by Jessica Lage (order this book from Amazon.com) has a good map and descriptions of this hike.
Trail Map of Point Reyes National Seashore, by Tom Harrison (order from Amazon.com) is the best all-purpose map to Point Reyes.
Don and Kay Martin's Point Reyes National Seashore has a good map and trail descriptions (read more about this book at Amazon.com).
Hiking Marin, by Don and Kay Martin, has a good map and trail description (order this book from Amazon.com).
North Bay Trails, by David Weintraub (read more about this book at Amazon.com) has a good map and descriptions of this hike.
Tomales Point in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View photos from this hike.
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
Tomales Point tule elk reserve is not only a great place to watch wildlife, it's one of the quietest trails on Point Reyes.
The single trail drifts north away from the trailhead, eventually reaching
Tomales Point, nearly 5 miles from the nearest road. Squeezed on three
sides by water, the only sounds are wind, surf, and bird cries. At a bluff
overlooking the ocean you can spy on pelicans, cormorants, and seagulls,
while elk bellow in the distance.