Tomales Point Trail

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Elevation Gain1,405ft
Trailhead Elevation305ft
Elevation Min/Max80/541ft
Elevation Start/End305/305ft

Tomales Point Trail

Tomales Point Trail is a hiking trail in Marin County, California. It is within Point Reyes National Seashore and Phillip Burton Wilderness Area. It is 4.7 miles long and begins at 305 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 9.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,405 feet. Near the trailhead there are an information board, a telephone, and parking. The trail ends near the Tomales Bluff (elevation 36 feet) cliff.

Tomales Point Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Here is a hike of sweeping coastal views along an elevated, granite peninsula, covered by an open grassland famous for its wildflowers and tule elk. The Point Reyes Peninsula is a migrant piece of land. Its deepest bedrock is granite, formed in southern California approximately 100 million years ago."

"This is a panoramic hike along a sublime strip of land between the Paci?c Ocean and picturesque Tomales Bay. As a bonus, hikers get the unique opportunity to see herds of tule elk as you walk through the Tule Elk Reserve on your way to the point.

Point Reyes National Seashore is a 71,000-acre Eden steeped in history beginning with the geological forces that shaped the land millions of years ago. Movement of the tectonic plates along the San Andreas Fault has shifted the Point Reyes Peninsula northward from the southernmost Sierra Nevada in the Tehachapi Mountains 350 miles south. The most recent dramatic surge occurred during the 1906 earthquake."

"This hike along an open, exposed ridge can be spectacular or miserable depending on the weather. Carry ponchos in case of fog. Can be very windy and/or foggy."

"The Tomales Point Trail, one of the most dramatic trips in the seashore, leads across an outlying spit of land to reach the northernmost spot on the peninsula. Tule elk roam the point, spring wildflowers bloom abundantly, and in the migratory seasons (fall and spring)red-tailed and kestrel hawks soar overhead and harrier hawks skim the contours of the land. The fairly level route along a former ranch road affords views east and west, to the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay. A self-guided tour of the historic ranch at the trailhead describes life on a Point Reyes dairy ranch and tells about the peninsula’s famous butter industry. Come prepared for a chilly adventure, as these outer reaches of the point are often foggy and blustery."

"This excursion along gently rolling, slender Tomales Point offers premium views of the Pacific Ocean and Tomales and Bodega Bays and the chance to observe tule elk and various seabirds."

"This short walk crosses pastures to reach two small ponds with lots of birdlife. Continue to the low bluffs above Tomales Bay, where you’ll have terrific views of the surrounding area."

"Extending out to windswept bluffs at the northern tip of the seashore, the Tomales Point Trail affords great views of Tomales Bay and the rugged coastline to the north, and the opportunity to see the beautiful and rare tule elk. Amid the bush lupine and cobweb thistle that flourishes at the end of Tomales Point, the Tomales Point Trail scatters into myriad thin sand tracks. Wandering through the thickets on a clear day, the trick of finding the best route only adds to the wildness and beauty of this hike. Your destination is obvious—the end of the narrowing point of land that juts into the ocean, forming the western flank of Tomales Bay—and that makes the maze feel safe, the flowers more colorful and fragrant, the seabirds more entertaining, and the surf benign. This hike takes you into the seashore’s tule elk reserve, home of one of the largest herds of this rare native species in California. The trail also offers you the opportunity to glimpse calving seals in early summer, and in spring boasts a wonderful wildflower display. Sun or fog, it’s a journey well worth taking."

Tomales Point Trail Reviews

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I''ve hiked this trail in Spring and Fall and always enjoy it. In the Spring there are endless fields of wildflowers. This section of Point Reyes is a Tule Elk Preserve and we see dozens to hundreds of them grazing the slopes of Tomales Point. Just this last trip we saw many groups of elk, including one group of about two dozen that saw us coming and dashed across the trail about 100 ft ahead of us so as not to get cut off from a larger group. We also saw a couple males get up on hind legs and challenge each other maybe 50 ft from the trail. You are definitely and obviously a guest roaming through elk territory while on this trail. In addition to the elk, we also saw what I think was a coyote and in another spot a fox. There are also numerous avian species from hawks and vultures to a variety of smaller birds bathing in the puddles on the trail. It is quite interesting to watch a raptor ride a thermal coming up the cliffs from the ocean and seemingly hover in midair looking for prey whilst a group of a couple dozen elk lazily watch while sitting in the grassy bluffs near what seems like an ancient rock outcropping. All of this--the hawk, elk, and cliffs--are near enough you feel like you could reach out and touch them. Along most of the trip you can see Tomales Bay, a long, underwater section of the San Andreas Fault. At the end of the trail you can see Dillon Beach to the East and all the way to Bodega Bay and Doran Beach to the North. Note that a large section of the cliffs along the trail at the very end collapsed into the sea in early 2017. You can see cracks all along the ground in this area when not hidden by overgrown vegetation and the area is considered unstable and subject to further erosion events at any time.
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This is a fun trail. There are tons of elk herds to view and turkey vultures soaring all around. Lots of other birds to view too. The ocean and Tomales Bay are constantly in sight. Bring a lunch and plenty of water since you are out in the open and there is lots of wind. Even though it is rolling hills, it takes longer to hike than you would think. I guess it is all the interesting sights to stop and look at along the way.
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Great trail for beginners and long as you have good weather! The hike begins at an old dairy ranch. The trail - a well-defined dirt road most of the way - begins just past a stand of cypress trees. Most of the trail is gradual and offers beautiful views of the Pacific and Tomales Bay on clear is best hiked during winter and early spring. It will be as if you are hiking on an island! Bring your binoculars! Herds of Tule elk, lots of different bird species and maybe even migrating whales can be spotted. Keep your distance - this is their home and you are a visitor. Bring emergency least a windbreaker or poncho and some warm clothing. A couple of quick notes - stop at the Point Reyes ranger station - they have a ton of info on the area. Don't miss the lighthouse! It's a bit of a walk AND there are about 300 concrete steps down to it, but the views are worth it! If you're hungry, go to the little cafe at Drake's Bay - Great chowder and fresh baked cookies. Warm yourself by the wood stove. Point Reyes National Seashore is wonderful!

Tomales Point Trail Photos

Trail Information

Point Reyes National Seashore
Nearby City
Phillip Burton Wilderness Area
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, 201 Fort Mason, San Francisco 94123-0022; (415) 561-4700 or (415) 426-5240;
Local Contacts
Point Reyes National Seashore and West Marin Parklands by Wilderness Press, Tom Harrison’s Point Reyes National Seashore, USGS 7.5-min. Tomales
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018