Estero Trail to Sunset Beach

The Estero Trail has less traffic, but all the charm of the more popular trails in Point Reyes. This 7.5 mile trail crosses an estuary and winds along the coast before ending at Sunset Beach. The plentiful wildlife sightings along this trail are sure to delight bird watchers and nature lovers.

The trail begins with a jaunt through a Eucalyptus grove, but don’t let that fool you because most of the trail is exposed and offers little shade. After exiting the trees you will come to a bridge that crosses a tidal estuary. It was here that we were treated to our first wildlife sighting- an otter splashing under the bridge. After passing through the estuary the trail starts climbing, and you will cross through a series of gates as you enter and exit several grazing areas for the spoiled cows that get to call Point Reyes home.

Take in the gorgeous coastal views as you traverse the hills. Be sure to be on the look out for birds and wildlife. During our walk we saw two coyotes stalking the hills, a bevy of quail, and couple of Great White Herons. Follow the trail until you reach Sunset Beach and then turn around and head back. While this hike is beautiful, don’t expect a wide sandy beach as your reward. Sunset Beach feels more like an estuary than a traditional beach.

If you want to extend your hike you can follow signs to Drakes Head (the turnoff is located around mile 2.5) for some of the best views in Point Reyes.

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The Trailhead

From Sir Francis Drake Blvd., the trailhead and parking area is one-mile up Estero Rd.

The Route

Take the Estero Trail to the Sunset Beach trail. When the trail dead ends turn around and retrace your steps. For a map of the trail and the connecting trails view the North District Hiking Map.

Other Details

Trail Safety

Like all outdoor pursuits, hiking can be dangerous. It is up to you to assess your fitness level and education yourself about any potential dangers. While I try to regularly update these hiking guides, you should always research trail conditions before heading out.

Being prepared means arriving at the trailhead with water and some basic provisions. Each and every time I hit the trail I bring a backpack with more water than I think I need, a small first aid kit, and a snack. I also share my itinerary and plans with friends or family and I carry an InReach so I can summon help if needed. If you want to know what I carry in my pack during day hikes check out my blog post about essential gear for day hikers.

Stay safe, enjoy the trail, and soak up the magic of nature!

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