Part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, this short hike out to Chimney Rock provides an unparalleled perspective on the beauty of Drake's Bay and the surrounding swath of Pacific Ocean. The Chimney Rock trail traverses the exposed, bluff-lined peninsula that forms the eastern section of Point Reyes, heading out to the tip and an overlook of the ocean, Drakes' Bay, and Chimney Rock. Despite the trail's name, Chimney Rock itself might be the least exciting feature of the hike; rather, views of the unique coastline, marine life, Point Reyes' lifeboat history, and spring wildflowers steal the show.
Under a mile in length, the trail leaves the parking area and skirts behind a wind protected bluff before it climbs slightly to emerge on the bluffs that are fully exposed to the strong sea breeze that blows off Point Reyes. Dress accordingly.
A short trail leads down to the historic Point Reyes Lifeboat Station, which was constructed in 1927 to save shipwrecked mariners that had run aground in the treacherous waters off of Point Reyes (more information is available at the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse, located just down the road). Continuing on toward Chimney Rock, sounds of elephant seals can be heard echoing from the coves below. In the spring, Chimney Rock is known to have one of Marin's most spectacular wildflower displays. Make sure to bring binoculars to look for migrating gray whales between February and April.
One of the windiest and foggiest locations on the Pacific coast, Point Reyes can often be socked-in, so try and time a visit with a high pressure weather system. When the weather is clear, views can span from the Farallon Islands across Drake's Bay to the golden bluffs above Limantour Beach.
As access to Chimney Rock requires a relatively long drive out to Point Reyes. Consider combining a visit to the nearby Elephant Seal Overlook, within walking distance, and the Point Reyes Lighthouse, just short drive a way.
Parking for Chimney Rock is in a gravel lot that is well signed from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Vault toilets are provided at the parking area.