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San Francisco to Point Reyes Loop, 5 days, May2010
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Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco to Point Reyes Loop, 5 days, May2010 on 06/10/2010 23:07:30 MDT Print View

Jim and I took a five day loop hike a couple weeks ago, roughly 100 miles.

Link to annotated SmugMug photo show


Link to Google Map (gmap-pedometer) allowing you to zoom in on details of the route, satellite images, etc. The line follows our route, within a few hundred meters. (If you double click in gmap it will extend the route, which will make you quite confused.)

Home to San Francisco via CalTrain.
San Francisco to Marin county along the waterfront and Golden Gate Bridge.
Big loop through Marin County.
Return to SF via Sausalito Ferry.
CalTrain home.

Hiking through settled areas does not compare to wilderness hiking, but it is delightful in its own right. We have now taken 6 walks (3-5 weeks each) through settled areas in the UK and France, and 6 walks (3-6 days each) through settled areas in the San Francisco Bay Area.
We still do a lot of backpacking in roadless areas, near home in the Bay Area (Coe, Big Sur, etc), in the Sierra, and in Utah. But we've added multi-day walks through settled areas to our repertoire.
On the walks through settled areas, we usually have access to grocery stores and/or restaurants every day or two. On the Marin County part of this walk, we passed two restaurants (ate at both), but did not pass by any grocery stores.
Backpacking without air or car travel is good for the soul, as well as the planet. We appreciate our good fortune to live in the San Francisco Bay Area where there is so much backpacking available via public transit. (

Here's a loop at Pt Reyes that could be combined with parts of this trip, to make a mighty fine 10-12 day walk (at ~20 miles per day).
Link to Pt Reyes Circumambulation Report

Amy L, Palo Alto

Edited by drongobird on 10/14/2010 15:44:48 MDT.

William Johnson
San Fran Trip on 06/11/2010 01:06:48 MDT Print View


Thank you for letting me accompany you via your trip report.

Dylan Snodgrass

Locale: San Francisco, CA
San Francisco to Point Reyes Loop, 5 days, May2010 on 06/11/2010 07:26:58 MDT Print View

Amy, I have been enjoying your trip reports and your photos of past trips. Your photos have been a great motivator for my wife and I to get out more than our once a year Sierra trip. Thank you so much!

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: San Francisco to Point Reyes Loop, 5 days, May2010 on 06/11/2010 10:35:38 MDT Print View

That's a beautiful area. I've done the hike from the bay to the Pacific a couple of times, and really loved it. It's really cool how the ecosystem changes dramatically as you come over the ridge.

John Kinzer
(gardentrail27) - F
Great loop, mind if I copy-cat it!? :) on 06/20/2010 09:19:15 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing the great photos and the route map. My wife and I are going to attempt to do this loop, or one very similar. I've been mapping it out and was wandering if you remembered what camp sites you guys used?

You took the hard work out of planning, thanks for that! We're excited about the idea of backpacking without having to get in the car.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Re: San Francisco to Point Reyes Loop, 5 days, May2010 on 06/20/2010 13:15:09 MDT Print View


What an amazing trip, way to think outside the box! I had no idea you could beach walk from Sculptured Beach to Arch Rock. Do you need a really low tide for this, or just the daily low tide?

Edited by clbowden on 06/20/2010 17:34:17 MDT.

Justin Carter
(orangebananas) - F

Locale: San Francisco East Bay
So cool on 06/20/2010 17:21:58 MDT Print View

Thank you for the wonderful trip report.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Thank You on 06/21/2010 11:02:35 MDT Print View

This is wonderful. Living in San Francisco I have often wondered whether a trip like this was possible. The thought of just putting on my backpack and walking out the door is so appealing.

Can you share with us where you camped each night? Are there legal spots, or was it sort under the radar?

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
more info about SF to Pt Reyes hike on 06/28/2010 21:03:12 MDT Print View

Casey wrote: "I had no idea you could beach walk from Sculptured Beach to Arch Rock. Do you need a really low tide for this, or just the daily low tide?"

No you can't follow the beach all the way. You have to go up to the Coastal Trail at the north end of Sculptured Beach. Then you drop back down at Kelham Beach (near the big Eucalyptus tree). Depending on the tide, you can go from Kelham Beach to Arch Rock and through the arch. At high tide, you can't get past a couple headlands on this stretch, and you can't get under the arch. At high tide you just stay on the Coastal Trail all the way to Arch Rock.

Ryan and Kristin asked about campsites. We often rough-camp, which is technically not legal. I'm not going to post info about exactly where we camp. We set up our camp after dark, break before daylight, no fires, no lights, no excavation or brush cutting, and no noise. There are plenty of options if you're willing to follow those protocols and don't mind breaking the rules.

There are also lots of legal options.
Two camps in GGNRA headlands (Haypress and Hawk)
Youth Hostels in the headlands and at Pt Reyes (near Limantour Estero)
Pelican Inn in Bolinas
Pantoll campground in Mt Tamalpais State Park
Campground at Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Olema Ranch Campground and several B&Bs right in the village of Olema
Pt Reyes National Seashore backpacking campgrounds: Coast, Wildcat, Sky, Glen
Steep Ravine campground and cabins (Mt Tam State Park)

Another variation is to shorten the trip by taking the bus to or from Olema.
You could take a weekend walk to Olema and take the bus home!

We loved the trip. Jim has now mapped out our next Bay Area walk. He has linked three 5-7 day walks we have taken into one 300 mile trip. The three he has linked are:
1. the one described in this post;
2. the SF to Santa Cruz coastal walk we did last year
3. and the Pt Reyes circumambulation we did last year:

We are so dang lucky to live here. It's too hot in the summer to go to Henry Coe or Big Sur, but these coastal walks are great even in the summer!

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: San Francisco to Point Reyes Loop, 5 days, May2010 on 06/30/2010 04:12:43 MDT Print View

I like the idea of hiking through settled areas since it can be a great side trip for visits to the area, and there is wonderful scenery there. I've been to a few of those spots, but now you've piqued my interest.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Late to the party... on 07/21/2010 00:48:50 MDT Print View

but glad I found your report! You are my new bay area hiking hero! :) This is an awesome route you've put together. My wife and I have hiked around the Headlands, Point Reyes, and Tomales Bay quite a bit but never done anything like this sort of loop. She just turned in for the night but now I have something to share with her tomorrow, I think she'll be especially interested in hiking the developed areas which we've never done unless climbing all the hills in SF counts.

We're planning a short overnight hike to test some new gear, and unfortunately a bum knee which our last trip to Coe exacerbated. We were thinking about Hawk Camp as a possibility, we've only day hiked the headlands before. Any thoughts on that site?


p.s. How did you generate that map? Some sort of GPS output uploaded to Goog?

Edited by JacobD on 07/21/2010 00:52:30 MDT.

David T
(DaveT) - F
sf pt. reyes on 07/21/2010 10:25:34 MDT Print View


Great trip concept and great info! Thanks much for posting. I agree with your thoughts on Pt. Reyes and the Headlands, and like the idea of combining some public transportation, bridge walking, and stealth camping to make a great trip.

If you want to make it longer, you could add some of what I did a couple years ago. Keep going around the esteros in Pt. Reyes, walk (or hitch-hike) the road to the lighthouse, down the "sand ramp" to the south end of the beach, all the way up the beach to Abott's Lagoon (or further), then road walking throught the pastures up to Mt. Vision, and connect back into the trail system. Good stuff!

Edited by DaveT on 07/21/2010 10:31:24 MDT.

Klas Eklof
(klaseklof) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
sf pt. reyes on 07/21/2010 15:25:53 MDT Print View

Yes Amy! Great trip and report.
A small recommendation about the route: rather than climbing Oat Hill (which I enjoy), I would follow the Kent Lake Pump Road downstream, then hike up the valley to Carson Falls.
This would take you through the great old-growth redwood forest in that valley, and the falls themselves are not too shabby. From the falls, there are many ways to retrn to the ridge, the best being an old trail up to Pine Mt., this is not on newer maps:



- k

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
delayed responses to SF->PtReyes comments on 10/06/2010 16:06:33 MDT Print View

Sorry about the long delayed response to some of the comments...

JacobD asked how I generated the map. I used, an easy tool that lets me follow roads or draw point to point on an underlying google map, and then save it to share with others.

DaveT suggested a way to make the trip longer. Funny you mention it, we are planning to combine three of our recent Bay Area walks into one ~15 day trip, maybe sometime this winter. SF to Inverness (via ferry, Bolinas Ridge); counter-clockwise circumambulation of the entire Pt Reyes Peninsula to Bolinas; coastal Marin trails back to GG bridge; and then the coast to Santa Cruz. Photos and maps of the three trips we will combine are all found here:

Klas suggested an improvement to our route. THANKS SO MUCH. We'll follow your suggestion next time.

David T
(DaveT) - F
pt. reyes on 10/06/2010 20:04:47 MDT Print View

Nice work on the circumnavigation. I wish I had seen your map before I did my hike! Great stuff!

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco to Pt Reyes, 11 day trip? on 10/14/2010 15:40:06 MDT Print View

I recently posted a trip report for our 2009 Pt Reyes Circumambulation.
Link to Pt Reyes Circumambulation Report

By combining that trip with the SF to Pt Reyes Loop described in this post, you'd have 10-12 days of fine walking (at our walking pace of ~20 miles per day).
- good weather year round (except during winter storms, which can be very wet and windy)
- easy access from San Francisco or Oakland Airports (using BART) or from San Jose Airport (using CalTrain).
- or start walking directly from San Francisco Greyhound station.
- probably easy public transit from the Emeryville Amtrak station too.
- many trail variations are possible, as the western 2/3rds of Marin County is almost all public park land and has numerous trails.
- There are good restaurants and a good grocery store in Pt Reyes Station, slightly off route.

Edited by drongobird on 10/14/2010 15:40:50 MDT.