Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,148.00 ft (349.91 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
9.72 mi (15.64 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Tomales Point is a very rewarding out-and-back hike on a mostly smooth trail that will bring you through coastal grasslands and sand dunes to the northernmost point of Point Reyes National Seashore. As you hike, you'll see several herds of elk (you're most likely to see them in the morning), and at the end, you'll come to cliffs that are the nesting place of several kinds of sea birds.

Depending on the season, you can witness the elk's mating calls in early fall, smell the fragrant lupines, or watch baby elk play around their mothers and baby seabirds learn to fly in late spring. There's also one seal mom that brings up her pups there instead of Drakes Beach. Tomales Point has something to offer during every season of the year; for wildflowers, come in early summer.

During the first part of your journey, you will hike on an easy-to-follow single-track trail. The trail is mostly sandy but has a firm surface. During these first three miles, you'll have the best chance to see the elk grazing in the grasslands and hear their mating calls. There are no other trails connecting to Tomales Point Trail, and nowhere to get off the trail as it's the only trail winding through the elk reservation. There are, however, a couple of social trails leading to a few rock formations. Even though they are there, it is desirable that the park visitors don't walk on those trails.

When you reach an old monterey cypress tree grove at the bottom of a long descent, the trail becomes an unmaintained path through sand dunes. On this last 1.7-mile-long stretch of the trail, you'll encounter flora vastly different from what you've seen so far during your journey, and you'll most likely have to stop a few times to empty your shoes of the sand you're inevitably going to collect, even if you decide to wear gaiters. The trail is still clearly visible, but your pace will probably slow down a little in the loose sand.

Once you reach the end, a short scramble is waiting for you. Follow the path as it goes down the cliff and you'll get the best views of flocks of sea birds hunting for fish, flying around your head, and nesting on the cliffs and rocks scattered near the shore. This is the perfect spot for lunch as, if you're patient enough, you might even catch a glimpse of a seal swimming through the waves breaking against the coast. In early fall, you can also notice water spouts from migrating whales.

As you're enjoying the break, there will be gulls flying right above or next to you, looking for food. Do not feed the birds as your food isn't their usual diet, and besides possibly harming the birds, it could also make them get used to getting food from humans, which could result in them becoming aggressive towards visitors.

On your way back, just follow the same trail. There will be one long hill waiting for you, and a couple of shorter ones. People usually tend to think that Tomales Point Trails is pretty flat  that isn't necessarily true, as Point Reyes rangers like to joke that "it's uphill both ways."

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Wildlife. Family friendly. Wildflowers.

Cons

Exposed to sun. Can get really windy.

Trailhead Elevation

320.00 ft (97.54 m)

Highest point

542.00 ft (165.20 m)

Features

Wildlife
Family friendly
Big Game Watching
Horseback riding
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Vault toilet

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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