(Image by Brian Rueb)

Rating:
Area: Marin County
Distance: 13 miles
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Medium
Elevation gain: 1,700ft (from 50 - 1,300ft)

Can't decide whether to hit the hills or the beach this weekend? This route into the Point Reyes National Seashore might be the perfect solution for you.

The wide Bear Valley Trail leading toward the Pacific coastline and away from the visitors center might be one of the busiest trails in the park, but just a mile and a half later you'll leaving the crowds and heading up the Old Pine Trail and into the forested hills. The two mile grade of Old Pine Trail always maintains a respectably gentle hill climb, before switching onto the Woodward Valley Trail and an equally pleasant two mile descent heading towards sweeping ocean views.

The first leg of the return journey follows the Coastal Trail southward, with side-trips to the beaches below, before returning along Bear Valley trail which traces the route of Coast Creek back into the hills.

If you have the time, consider checking out the Earthquake Trail, a short interpretive route which explores the geology of the San Andreas Fault Zone on which the Bear Valley visitor center rests.

Route Summary:
Bear Valley > Old Pine > Woodward Way > Coast > Bear Valley

Tangents:
- Flickr Images: Bear Valley Loop on Flickr
- National Park Service: Point Reyes National Seashore
- NorCal Explorer: Woodward Valley & Sculptured Beach

101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area by Ann Marie Brown