Bear Valley / Sky Trail loop (dayhike)

Trip Date: 6/1/2013

Location: Point Reyes National Seashore

Permit/Pass: No Entrance Fee is Charged at Point Reyes

Trails: NPS Map

Directions: Take California Highway 1 south from Pt. Reyes Station, following the signs for Point Reyes National Seashore, one of which will direct you to take the next right turn. Turn right and head up the road where you'll see another sign directing you to turn left to go to the park's Visitor Center. The center is a short distance ahead, and is worth a visit. The Bear Valley trailhead can be found at the end of the park road, just past the Visitor Center. The parking seems generous but it can fill up on weekends.

Trail sequence: Bear Valley / Coast Trail / Sky Trail / Mt. Wittenburg / Bear Valley 

Type: Loop

Distance: 10.8 miles

Elevation: Min. - 59', Max. - 1259'

Profile:

Rating: Moderate-Difficult (factors: length, steep sections) 

Synopsis: A pleasant hike that begins disarmingly easy. The walk to the coast along the Bear Valley trail is cool and shaded with a gentle grade. Streams bubble alongside the path and breezes off the ocean blow through. The views open up as you reach the Coast trail, then expand on the way up the Sky Trail, only to disappear under the canopy once again as you follow the mostly forested route along the ridge back to the trailhead.

 

Bear Valley/Sky Trail loop - Pt. Reyes National Seashore

Turn by Turn:

  -- The trail head out from the Bear Valley trailhead pretty much due south and continues in that general direction, passing some trail junctions on the west side, until just over three miles, where there is a fork separating Glen Trail and the continuing Bear Valley trail. Take the right fork heading off to the west.

  -- Follow Bear Valley as it trends generally southwest for another mile, where it forks again. (The left fork takes you to Arch Rock, a popular landmark. This sidetrip will add about a half a mile to your trip.) Take the right fork onto Coast Trail.

  -- Head northwest on Coast trail for a short distance before coming to a junction with Sky Trail, which proceeds north and up the side of the hill.

  -- After a couple of long, steep switchbacks Sky trail works its way north, passing the same spur trails you saw earlier, this time heading down to the east.

  -- After about four and a half miles Sky Trail takes off to the left (north) at a junction with Mt. Wittenberg trail. Take the right fork onto Mt. Wittenberg trail.

  -- You'll follow Mt. Wittenberg as it at first ascends, then descends steeply for about two miles after jogging to the east.

  -- Mt Wittenberg dead-ends as you rejoin Bear Valley trail. Turn left (north) onto Bear Valley for the short walk back to the trailhead.