Hike Date: May 5, 2011
Distance: ~ 9.5 miles
Trail(s): Tomales Point Trail
Where’s it at? Northern peninsula of Pt. Reyes National Seashore


The Tomales Point Trail is a 9.5 mile hike along a northern peninsula of Point Reyes National Seashore between Tomales Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Herds of Tule Elk, flocks of sea birds, wildflowers, and excellent coastal views treat hikers on this beautiful hike in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’ve now hiked most of Pt. Reyes and this is probably my new favorite hike within Point Reyes National Seashore. The hike is relatively easy for the amount of distance covered, with minimal elevation gain, although there are some minor hills, just nothing that burns your legs too badly.

We lucked out and found a day where the weather and conditions were probably the most favorable it will experience all year. You want to look for a day where there will be no fog, and little wind. Point Reyes can get EXTREMELY windy and foggy almost all year round. Look for a day with a high pressure ridge over the bay area and very dry in terms of humidity. I think the morning or early afternoon is also more likely to be less windy than evenings of late afternoon. By the time we left it was starting to really blow.

The trail starts out in an old historic ranch that was once a self sufficient community. You can tour the all-white buildings which have plaques describing their function before or after heading out for your trek. The parking lot is fairly small and when we visited it half was blocked off with pylons…we weren’t sure why. But there is a fair amount of overflow parking along the road and in worst case scenarios you could hike a little extra by parking at McClure’s Beach parking lot. McClure’s beach is a nice little side journey which you can take in the same day if time permits. During low tide there’s decent tidepool viewing here. There are also bathrooms at McClure’s but none on the trail or lot at the Tomales Point Trailhead.

In early May, the wildflowers throughout the hike were extensive and beautiful. There were so many that at times when looking to the distance the hills almost looked like they had bare spots of dirt, but in fact it was just a mass of white, blue, yellow, and gold flowers. In some areas in the last mile they almost completely hid the trail. While I’d read that there are a lot of stinging nettles along the trail, nothing irritated my legs, and I had shorts on. I didn’t see any poison oak on the path either. However, if you have allergies due to flowers and grasses you might consider bringing along your allergy medications!

I was amazed by the Tule Elk. I knew they were here, but really wasn’t expecting to see so many and have them be so bold with hikers. We must’ve seen at least 25, often grouped in small ‘herds’ of 5 or more. There were far more females visible and the males had vivid felt on their antlers. Visitors are encouraged not to stray from the trail, and we didn’t, but we were still able to be within about 25 feet of some of them at certain points. Often times you don’t see them from a distance so be sure to look sideways and backward at times to find them. A lot seemed to gather at the peaks of the hills, presumably to see threats from a greater distance.

While I love all of Point Reyes, and have more frequently visited the Coast Trail and southern portions, the Tomales Point Trail is a must see. Best time to visit is in late April or May for both weather conditions and the wildflowers.

Photos from Tomales Point Trail (click to enlarge)

Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
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Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore   Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore

Directions to Tomales Point Trailhead


View Hiking Tomales Point Trail in Pt. Reyes in a larger map

Weather at Dillon Beach, CA (just east)