Parks and Beaches
Point Reyes beaches are some of the most dramatic and beautiful in the country. You'll find places to go walking swimming, kayaking, tidepooling, birdwatching, and beachcombing. Many beaches are easily accessible, others you can reach only by hiking.
Beaches on the west coast tend to be windswept and dramatic, surf rough and rip currents treacherous.
McClures Beach, south of Tomales Point and west of the Pierce Point parking area, has great tidepooling and lots of wildlife including the giant sea anemones. Take care at this beach as the intense surf makes it dangerous to be on the rocks except during the outgoing tide.
Kehoe Beach trailhead is on the Pierce Point Rd. Dogs are allowed on leash to the north of the half-mile trail into the beach. A good area for picnics in the dunes.
Abbotts Lagoon Beach parking lot and trail head is on the Pierce Point Rd. The 1.5 trail to the beach is level and passes a lovely small lagoon on the left and a large one to the right where many migratory birds gather. The dunes at this beach are reminiscent of the east Coast's Cape Cod and you can walk out to the Great Beach. The dunes are nesting grounds for the endangered snowy plover whose nests are on the ground, so watch for them June through September.
Point Reyes Beaches, North and South, also known as 10 mile Beach or The Great Beach is windy with surf so rough that swimming is not permitted . Campfires (need permit) and dogs on leash are permitted south of the North Beach entrance. Stay back from the water or be very aware of the possibility of "sneaker waves" that can suddenly appear.
Drakes Bay, one of the most popular beaches, due to calmer and warmer water and a stretch of beach off to the north that is less windy, protected by the cliffs. Swimming and campfires (need permit) are allowed. There is a wonderful café with very good lunch items and dinner by reservation on the weekends. The visitor center offers ranger-led walks and interpretive displays. A convenient wheelchair-accessible restroom completes the amenities.
Limantour Beach, the closest beach to the visitors center and to Pt. Reyes Station and Olema, is a long sandy spit that separates Drakes Estero from the ocean .At the north end of this beach where the estero meets the ocean is usually full of seals. Several wetland areas attract ducks and shorebirds and if you walk to the south about 2 miles you reach Sculptered Beach. Low tide is the best time to make that trec when the rocks are exposed and tidepools can be explored. You can also reach this beach by taking the Coastal Trail.
Wildcat Beach can be reached via hiking trails only. It's a 5 mile hike from the Palomarin trailheadat the end of Mesa Rd. in Bolinas.
Palomarin Beach is down the steep path from the Palomarin Trailhead. Low tide reveals many tidepools.
Tomales Bay beaches offer warmer water and less wind. Dogs are not allowed in the Tomales Bay State Park, off of the Pierce Pt. Rd. Heart's Desire Beach is a great beach for families and swimming. You can park close to the beach and amenities include drinking water, picnic tables, grills, dressing rooms and wheelchair accessible restrooms. You can walk to two other beaches from Heart's Desire: Indian Beach has a nature trail over to it (1/2 mile) and Pebble Beach.Shell Beach can be reached by hiking 4 miles south from Heart's Desire Beach or driving to the parking lot at the end of Camino del Mar and walking about ¼ mile down. It is another great swimming beach with a raft out from the shore to swim to and rest.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area: As a growing urban area, the San Francisco Bay region is blessed with the Golden Gate National Recreational Area (GGNRA). The recreation area, rich in biological diversity due to the variety of habitat and unique geology, is spread through a 60 mile swath of coastal lands. Included among the park's well-known destination areas are Marin County's Stinson Beach, Marin Headlands and Muir Woods National Monument.
Offering a quiet sanctuary, Muir Woods is world-renowned for its giant old-growth Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Incredibly, the oldest redwood in the Monument is at least 1,200 years old, with most being between 500 and 800 years old. Regularly enshrouded in fog, Muir Woods is home to an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. Two species of salmon, the Coho or Silver Salmon and Steelhead Trout spawn each winter in Redwood Creek. Also calling the Monument home are over fifty species of birds and 11 species of bats. Occasionally it is possible to see Northern Spotted Owls or Pileated Woodpeckers, along with the more common small mammals and deer.
As the largest national park unit in an urban area, the GGNRA has endless opportunities for you to explore… check out www.nps.gov/goga for more information today.
Mt. Tamalpais and Samuel P. Taylor State Park: Radiating out from Mt. Tamalpais, and just minutes from San Francisco is Marin County's abundance of open space. With endless topographical and ecological variation, fantastic scenery and outdoor recreation abounds. Stunning coastal hill country, bay and oak woodlands and redwood groves can be found in some or all of the state parks on your way to Pt. Reyes National Seashore.
Mt. Tamalpais State Park's more than sixty miles of trails connect with a 200 mile trail network through neighboring public lands. At 2571 feet, Mt Tamalpais is the greatest peak in Marin County. Unbroken, the forest is home to multiple rock-types and greater than 750 species of plants and animals.
Thirty minutes west is Samual P. Taylor State Park. The park features a unique contrast of coast redwoods and open grasslands. Hiking trails, fire roads and a paved bike path provide access to the many varied flora and fauna that inhabit the park. Camping and picnicking is permitted.
Continuing west and within walking distance of Pt. Reyes National Seashore is Tomales Bay State Park. A day-use park, it features gently sloping surf-free beaches. With beaches and wooded areas, the park is popular for hiking, picnicking, swimming, clamming and boating. Check www.parks.ca.gov for information on each of these California State Parks.