Tomales Point Trail

One of the best coastal hikes close to San Francisco.

Hike Length: 9.8 miles (15.77 km)

Total Ascent: 995ft (303m)

Intensity: Moderate Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail, Unmarked Trail, Herd Path, Easy Bushwhack

Similar Entries In: San Francisco, Nature Trails, The Best Hikes, The Moderate Hikes, The Most Popular Hikes, , , , , .

Crow at Tomales Point Trail in California

Tomales Point Trail

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 A long, tricky out-and-back.

Nestled in the heart of Point Reyes National Seashore, the Tomales Point Trail offers more than just a hike—it’s a journey through the dazzling landscape and rich history of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tomales Point Trail, stretching out towards the northern tip of the Point Reyes Peninsula, is not only a haven for hikers but also a sanctuary for an array of wildlife, offering glimpses of nature’s marvels in their most unadulterated form.

The Tomales Point Trail is renowned for its tule elk reserve, an initiative that has successfully reintroduced these majestic creatures to their native habitats. Hikers are often treated to the sight of elk herds grazing among the wildflowers or silhouetted against the horizon, a powerful reminder of the area’s ongoing conservation efforts. The presence of these elk not only enriches the hiking experience but also plays a crucial role in the ecological balance of the peninsula.

Birdwatchers will find the trail a paradise, with opportunities to observe cormorants, crows, and a plethora of other avian species that make their home along the rugged coastline.

Tomales Point Trail meanders through fields of coastal scrub and wildflowers, leading hikers through tunnels of windswept cypress trees, their twisted forms bearing witness to the relentless maritime winds. This confluence of land and sea creates a unique ecosystem, where each element—from the salt-tolerant plants clinging to the cliffs to the marine mammals that can be spotted off the shores—plays a role in the tapestry of life here.

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As you make your way towards Tomales Point, the Pacific Ocean unfolds to your west, a vast expanse of blue that stretches to the horizon. The trail’s end offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Tomales Bay and the Point Reyes coastline, a fitting reward for those who undertake this journey.

Tomales Point Trail

Your hike along Tomales Point Trail includes…

  • Historic ruins
  • Iconic cypress trees
  • Majestic elk
  • Whales migrating
  • Sand dunes
  • Dangerous cliffs
  • Thistles
  • Spectacular cormorant colonies
  • Incredible scenery
  • Controversial cows

A full breakdown is provided in the hike notes below, with 21 awe-inspiring photos.

Tomales Point Trail Hike Time

Allow 4-5 hours for this hike.

Tomales Point Trail Elevation Gain

The elevation gain for this hike is 995 feet (apx 300 meters).

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Tomales Point Trail Notes & Gallery

The Tomales Point Trail is not just a path through nature but a walk through time, offering insights into the area’s past and a profound connection to the present. Whether you’re drawn by the history, the wildlife, or the sheer beauty of the landscape, this trail promises an unforgettable experience for all.

The hike begins near the historic Pierce Point Ranch, a testament to the area’s pastoral heritage.

Pierce Point Ranch ruins
Pierce Point Ranch ruins

These old barns, remnants of the dairy farming era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, stand like soundless sentinels at the trail’s outset, offering a peek into the human history that has shaped this land.

Tomales Point Trail starts here
Pierce Point Ranch

You’ll pass these iconic cypress trees, and other cypress stands, on the way out to Tomales Point, and again on your return.

Cypress trees at the start of Tomales Point Trail
Iconic Cypress trees

From here, everything just gets more and more beautiful…

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Large popular lot for several superb hikes.

Google Maps Location: 38.188978, -122.954138

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead