Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore is a 70,000-acre preserve that has about 150 miles of hiking trails. Point Reyes National Seashore was preserved to protect wilderness, natural ecosystems, and cultural resources along the diminishing undeveloped coastline of the western United States.

Point Reyes Elk

Point Reyes History

Pt. Reyes is maintained by the US National Park Service. In 1962, a US Congressman from Marin County named Clem Miller,wrote and introduced the bill for the establishment of Point Reyes National Seashore in order to protect the peninsula from residential and business development. The idea for protecting Pt. Reyes seashore was to save the natural habitat of many plants and animals.

Phillip Burton wrote the legislation creating the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and was a big part of the California Wilderness Act of 1984. More than 30,000 acres of Point Reyes National Seashore are designated as the Phillip Burton Wilderness in his honor

The Point Reyes peninsula is geologically isolated from the rest of Marin County. Since it is quite isolated, much of its vegetation and nature is quite different from surrounding parks and the rest of Marin County. The tiny town of Olema, about three miles south of Point Reyes Station, serves as the gateway to the Seashore and its visitor center.

Point Reyes Nature and Wildlife

The Pt.Reyes peninsula includes wild coastal beaches and headlands, and many miles of beautiful coastline overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Some of the animals that can be seen at Point Reyes are wild elk, many different birds that thrive in shore environments. A seasonal treat and a popular local attraction is whale-watching for the Gray Whales migrating south in mid-January and north in mid-March.

Some of the animals that live at Point Reyes are seals, sea lions, bobcats, coyotes, cougars, deer and elk. Smaller animals include racoons, foxes, red-sided garter snake, skunks, gapers (the little animals who create little holes in the ground and sometimes peek out of them) and squirrels. Some of the smaller residents of the park are Banana Slugs, the California red-legged frog, tree frogs, and little salamander lizzards.

Some of the birds at the seashore include Pelicans, Surf Scoters, scavenger gulls, snowy plovers, sandpipers, willets, murres, sanderlings, surfperch, Osprey, cormorants, snowy egrets, California quail, Anna's hummingbird, and great blue herons, murres, grebes, and other seabirds. There are ducks like the mallard, green-winged teal, loons, grebes, scaup, and northern shoveler. Other birds are turkey vultures.

Some of the types of vegetation are American dune grass, sand verbena, saltbush, beach strawberry, dune lupine, and beach morning glory. Some of the bushes and shrubs at Point Reyes are coyote brush, poison oak, bush lupine, blue blossom, and huckleberry. Other flowers at the preserve are the ever-popular California Poppies, Indian Paintbrush flowers, Douglas Iris, and monkeyflower.

Common Point Reyes trees are Douglas firs, bishop pine, live oak, and bay laurel.

Riprarian Corridors

Riprarian means being along a stream or beside a stream. Riparian corridors are the plants that live along streams or water areas. Some of the plants are yellow willows, blackberries, stinging nettle, horsetails, miner's lettuce, and red alders. These plants need more moisture for their roots. And the constant wet environment of riparian corridors are perfect for them.

Point Reyes Hiking and Trails

The most popular and well-known hiking trail in Point Reyes is the Bear Valley Trail. The Bear Valley trail starts off at the visitor center and leads the hikers along a stream through a canyon. The trails then takes the hikers through a meadow called the Divide Meadow and then slopes gently downward to the coast and the unreal ocean view at Arch Rock.

A historical and education trail is the Earthquake Trail which is a small 0.6 mile loop that runs directly over the San Andreas Fault. Along the trail, hikers can see descriptions of the fault and the surrounding geology. A relic from the huge 1906 San Francisco Earthquake is a fence that was pulled 18 feet apart during the tremor. This is one of only two possible hikes in the Bay Area where you can experience the San Andreas Fault. The other hike park is in the Peninsula, south of San Francisco at Los Trancos Open Space Preserve.

Another attraction at Point Reyes is the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse that was built low to get the light below the fog that is so prevalent in the area. Nearby is the short Chimney Rock hike, full of spring wildflower displays. There are also many beach walks along Point Reyes. Limantour Spit trail winds up on a narrow sandy beach, from which Drakes Beach can be glimpsed across Drakes Bay.

Point Reyes Trails

  • Woodpecker Trail (0.7 mi) - loop trail through local forest and meadow ecosystems of Bear Valley
  • Limantour Spit Trail (2 mi) - bird-watching trail leading along the crest of Limantour Spit. Hikers can also spot seals in the water. The hike start at the Limantour Beach parking lot.
  • Chimney Rock Trail (1.6 mi) - spectacular hike with views of Drakes Bay and the Pacific Ocean from steep and rocky cliffs.
  • Kehoe Beach Trail (1.2 mi) - flat trail that starts at the Bear Valley Visitor Center and leads through Kehoe Marsh and out to Kehoe Beach. Hikers can sometimes see cows, rabbits, bobcats and mountain lions on the trails. The Kehoe Beach trail is the only trail at Pt. Reyes where dogs are permitted.
  • McClures Beach Trail (0.8 mi) - difficult hike down a ravine to the rocky McClures Beach and the ocean. This hike starts at the end of the Pierce Point Road.
  • Divide Meadow (3.2 mi) - easy walk through Douglas Fir tree forest and along Bear Valley Creek to an open grassy meadow.
  • Mt. Wittenberg Loop (5 mi) - A steep 1300 feet climb to the highest point in the park with views of the Seashore and Olema Valley
  • Coastal Laguna Loop (5mi) - easy hike through coastal scrub and grassland with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Abbotts Lagoon (3 mi) - easy hike through open trails along the Pacific Ocean coast.
  • Bear Valley Loop (10.5 mi) - hike with many different views and terrains that winds through Mixed Douglas Fir forest, and open grass meadows with coastal views and beach access.
  • Arch Rock from Bear Valley (8.2 mi) - the most popular and well-known trail in Point Reyes. This trail is a direct walk to the ocean from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. It is pleasant and takes the hikers through a forest and along Bear Valley Creek.
  • Tomales Point Trail (9.5 mi) - an open trail through the Tule Elk Reserve with views of Tomales Bay, Bodega Bay, and far into the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the best trails to see wildlife as the tule elk are enclosed in this reserve. The first 3 miles are easy to hike, but as the hike continues, the terrain becomes more crowded with bushes and shrubbery

Address and Phone Number

1 Bear Valley Rd Point
Reyes Sta, CA 94956-9799
Phone: (415) 663-1200

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