Point Reyes

Jojo, Jessica and I have been using birthdays as an excuse this year to do something different with our runs and go explore somewhere fun.  We planned ahead and reserved a weekend in March that worked for all of us, and let Jojo – the birthday girl – pick which location she wanted to run at.

At the top of our ever expanding Bay Area trail bucket list were the trails out at Point Reyes, which is on the coast about 40 miles north of San Francisco.  I was very excited when she picked this spot, and Jess and I immediately started doing our research of which trails we needed to run on.  We stumbled on Leor’s Pantilat’s blog which had a ton of resourceful posts on running Point Reyes.  We loved one route in particular, so we printed off some maps and made our way north, with Charlotte joining us too!    

It was a pretty chilly morning, but we knew the sun would come out and warm us up.  We started with layers which would eventually be shed, and had our packs full of water and fuel.  We also decided to add some fun to our outfits and make our own “color run” by wearing as many colors as possible.  Typical girlie birthday party right? 

We started climbing pretty quick into the redwood forest.  The first 2 miles are straight up, gaining almost 1200 feet, which is also the highest point of the run.  The ground was soft and it was incredibly beautiful with the sunshine peeking through the trees.

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We came to our first intersection and turned onto a new trail.  All the trails were really well marked, so we had {almost} no problems getting lost. 

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We made another turn and eventually got our first views of the ocean.

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We left the trees behind for single track with endless views of the ocean… 

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…and our first incredible views of our beloved California coastline. 

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We turned onto the Coast trail, which was a very runnable single track, that, as expected, ran right along the coast.

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We made a couple of small detour trips along the way, the first one being going down to Kelham Beach.  It was a short trip down (and back up) a bunch of stairs but it was well worth it.

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We found waterfalls…

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…and an empty private beach.

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Me, Jojo and Jess
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After playing around on the beach, we made our way back up onto Coast trail where we did some good running until our next detour.  At some point we came along the intersection to Arch Rock, which we definitely wanted to stop and see.

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Unfortunately, the tide was up, so we didn’t go all the way down onto the beach.  Jojo and I did climb down for a closer view of the arch while Charlotte and Jess watched us from above.

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Arch Rock and a peek at the ocean
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We made sure to check out the views from on top of Arch Rock as well.  There were more incredible coastal views that took our breath away.

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It was getting warmer at this point and we still had quite a bit of ground to cover, so we continued on our way.  We made the decent down to Wildcat Camp and started running into a lot of hikers.  We missed a turn in here somewhere and went a little too far before we realized that we needed to turn around.  Always plan for extra miles!  We also decided not to head down to Alamere Falls since the trail is known for dense poison oak, and this is where a majority of people seemed to be headed.   

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We made the exposed climb back up into the redwoods where we were greeted with some very welcomed shady single track.  

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We finished running on the gentle Bear Valley Trail which brought us back to where we started, 24+ miles later. 

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If it’s not evident from all the pictures I took, this run definitely ranks very highly on my list of favorite routes, and I would highly recommend visiting these trails if you get a chance.  It was incredibly beautiful, with constantly changing terrain and views, some challenging hills, but mostly fun, runnable trails.  I felt really secluded and didn’t see many people until later in the run, which really enhanced the zen vibe you get being in a place like this.  I can’t wait to get out there again very soon.

Route (~22-24 miles):
Start at Bear Valley Visitor Center
Head south, turn left on Mt Wittenberg Trail
Left on Sky
Right on Woodward Valley
Left on Coast Trail all the way down to Wildcat Camp
*side trips off Coast Trail: Kelham Beach and Arch Rock
Continue on Ocean Lake Loop
Left Coast and follow back up where you have been until you hit Glen
Follow Glen (kind of a zig zag) to Bear Valley which takes you back to the parking lot

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16 Responses to Point Reyes

  1. Lauren @ sassy molassy April 24, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    What a beautiful trail and day you had! Love when friends do those sorts of adventures as bday celebrations.

  2. Running LIbrarian April 25, 2013 at 4:10 am #

    Such a beautiful place to run! I’m a bit jealous :)

  3. Janet April 25, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    What an amazing way to ring in a birthday! Hopefully someday I’ll get brave enough to try out some trails over here on the east coast :)

  4. Shannon @ Mon Amour April 25, 2013 at 5:34 am #

    So jealous of these views! Spring is just starting around here which means the trails are starting to come alive again. Reading this makes me want to get out as soon as possible!

  5. Jen April 25, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    Looks amazing! Thanks for all of pictures and route info. :)

  6. Chelsea April 25, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    Holy cow, this place looks absolutely stunning! I’m seriously wishing I was west coast bound anytime soon!

  7. Debbie April 25, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Loved reading about this latest run adventure!! I’m heading up there with some girls in June for a camping adventure, I won’t be able to run like I normally would since they are not huuuuuge runners, but I WILL look forward to seeing and exploring all of this since we are camping out for 2 night there! I will definitely have to go up and run this with some other friends and experience it the way you and your girls did!!! Thanks once again for tips on a future great EPIC run!!!!!!

    ‘Running Lizard’

  8. Emily April 25, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    I love Point Reyes! It’s posts like these that inspire me to build my miles back up so I can do cool stuff like this too! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Sonia the Mexigarian April 25, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    that sounds like an amazing!and the pictures, oh my! so beautiful. I loved reading this post. makes me wish I was out there running on the trails too. I especially liked how you were all wearing bright colors! i definitely have to drive up to Point Reyes and check this trail course out. thank you for the info :)

  10. Leah April 25, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    Point Reyes is so magical. You are incredibly lucky to have such a great group of women to explore with. I also love all the bright neon clothing!

  11. the dawn April 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    oh my word!!! i have never been more jealous of a run in my whole life. there is NOTHING like that where we moved to. and it makes my heart so sad.

    ENJOY it for everyone who can’t :)

  12. RoseRunner April 25, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    This is just ridiculous. I can’t even imagine how beautiful it must have been in person, because photos don’t usually translate well…and that looks amazing. Can you tack on 2 miles and organize a marathon on that route? I’ll sign up.

  13. greengirlrunning April 25, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    That looks AMAZING! I’ve done the out & back from the visitor center out to Arch Rock and back, but have never explored the other trails… I can’t wait to try this route! Gorgeous!

  14. Cathryn April 25, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    This is amazing, I’m dead jealous. You girls look so awesome out there as well!!

  15. Amber April 26, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Un freaking believable. I am so jealous of the amazing trails you run on!

  16. Susan - Nurse on the Run April 27, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    My jaw is dropped looking at these pictures! So beautiful.

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