Point Reyes Bear Valley: Sky and Coast Loop

One of the most popular trails in all of Point Reyes is the easy, but crowded, out-and-back 8.2-mile Bear Valley Trail that leads from the Point Reyes Bear Valley Visitors Center to Arch Rock. Instead of following the crowds, take the trail less traveled and earn your seaside picnic lunch with this 12.5-mile loop. This loop from the Point Reyes Bear Valley Visitors Center adds a couple miles and a bit of elevation to the standard Bear Valley out-and-back hike, but it also adds views. BIG TIME VIEWS!

Starting at the Bear Valley trailhead, take the Mount Wittenberg trail and begin your climb up to Mount Wittenberg, the highest point in the area. The steep switchbacks will lead you through a lush fern-covered forest, before reaching a clearing and the first ocean views. You can choose to take a short jaunt to the top of Mount Wittenberg and check out the views from 1407ft. After taking in the views (and returning from the top of Mount Wittenberg), briefly connect onto the Sky Trail before heading steeply down the mountain on the Woodward Valley Trail.

As you work your way down the Woodward Valley Trail, you’ll slowly wind down to the water while admiring jaw-dropping views of Sunset Beach and the cliffs to the north before taking the next switchback and getting equally stunning coastal views to the south. This stretch of the trail offers some of the best views in all of Point Reyes.

After connecting to the Coast Trail, take the short detour to Kelham Beach and spend some time lounging on the pristine white sands and admiring Arch Rock. Once you’re sufficiently relaxed, head back up to the Coast Trail and continue south until you reach the Bear Valley Trail. Take the Bear Valley Trail for a flat 4-mile creek-side walk back to the Point Reyes Bear Valley Visitors Center.

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The Trailhead

The Bear Valley Trail is the wide fire road that begins when the Bear Valley Visitors Center Road ends.

The Route

From the Bear Valley Trail, take the Mount Wittenberg Trail. Go to the top of Mount Wittenberg and then stay straight to connect to the Sky Trail (do not go towards Sky Camp). Take the Woodward Valley and then head South on the Coast Trail. Take the short path to Kelham Beach before continuing South on the Coast Trail. Connect to the Bear Valley Trail and take it back to the Point Reyes Bear Valley Visitors Center. Visit the National Park Service for a great map of the trails around the Bear Valley Visitors Center.

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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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