Tomales Point Trail

Marin County

Wide-open views atop a windswept peninsula, with a good chance of spotting wild elk.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
15 km
Ascent
391 m
Descent
391 m
Duration
3-4 hrs
Low Point
13 m
High Point
165 m
Gradient
Tomales Point Trail Map

Tomales Point is the remote, northernmost tip of the large peninsula that is Point Reyes National Seashore. Its windswept hills and wave-battered bluffs receive the brunt of Pacific Ocean force, sheltering the calm Tomales Bay behind it.

Description

This weathered spit of land is nearly void of trees, and instead covered in grasses and coastal scrub habitat. It is very green at most times of the year, and bursts with more color in the spring. Common wildflowers are the yellow or purple petals of bush lupine, white flowers of coyote bush, and the blues of the blue-blossom shrub.

This colorful grassland is home to a rare variety of elk unique to Central California. One of their largest remaining populations lives right here on the Point Reyes Peninsula, and the Tomales Point Trail leads through some of their favorite habitat. You have a good chance of spotting them on this hike.

Besides the flora and fauna, views atop the peninsula are of the wide-open Pacific Ocean, verdant hills all around, and sea cliffs below—if clear of fog, that is. Windy, wet, and foggy weather are common on this exposed shoreline.

The ultimate cliff-top view is located at the very end of the trail at Tomales Point, but you can turn around anywhere on this out-and-back once you’ve had your fill. The one-mile mark at Windy Gap makes an easy hike and gives a decent chance of seeing the elk. For better odds at spotting them, continue farther on the trail, which eventually passes some dug-out ponds that the animals visit for water. The views get better and the crowds thinner the farther you go.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/hikingguide.htm https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/wildlifeviewingtuleelk.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PointReyesNationalSeashore

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly

Guidebooks in this area