Wildflowers, hidden beaches, coastal forests, babbling creeks and awesome Pacific views are just a few of the things that make Point Reyes a world-class hiking destination. With so much to see, which hike should a person do? Do the one that’s got it all! The Woodward Valley Loop is a hiking grand slam, going from forests to tidepools along a 13-mile route.
Start the hike on the Bear Valley Trail while your legs are fresh; you’ll soon be steadily climbing the Mt. Wittenburg Trail—the steepest in the park—to 1,260 feet. At the top, the trail crests, traversing wildflower-filled meadows, and winding through Douglas fir forests awash with golden sunbeams. The Point Reyes Coastline comes into view as you descend the Sky and Woodward Valley Trails to the ocean-hugging Coast Trail. Break for lunch at the secluded Sculptured Beach, (watch for poison oak on the narrow spur trail that takes you to the beach); time your visit for low tide, and you can walk under a giant rock tunnel.
Afterward, keep hiking on the easy flats of the Coast Trail; a huge eucalyptus tree marks the spot for checking out a second stretch of secret sand—sprawling Kelham Beach. For the last stretch of the hike, jaunt to the hulking, exposed Arch Rock and take in the last views of the Pacific before making your way back to the start on the popular Bear Valley Trail. Point well earned.
From Bear Valley Visitor Center, walk down the Bear Valley Trail. Make a right onto Mt. Wittenburg Trail and climb it up to the Sky Trail. Go left and descend until you reach Woodward Valley Trail; go right. Take this to the Coast Trail. Turn left on the Coast Trail. Keep an eye out for blink-and-you-miss-it signage to Sculptured Beach. The Kelham Beach spur trail is unsigned; look for a huge eucalyptus tree and take the informal trail down to the beach. Take the Bear Valley Trail back to the trailhead. No dogs.