Rock Trailhead, Point Reyes National Seashore,
National Park Service,
2 mile partial loop on a Point Reyes bluff overlooking the ocean. Spectacular wildflowers in spring, and good seal, sea lion, and whale watching as well.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 2 mile partial loop hike is easy, with about 250 feet of elevation change.
About 1 hour.
This hike is best for the peak of spring wildflower season.
From US 101 in Marin County, exit San Anselmo (Sir Francis Drake). Drive about 20 miles west on Sir Francis Drake. Turn right onto CA 1, then make the first left onto Bear Valley Road. Drive about 2 miles to the junction with Sir Francis Drake, and turn left. Continue about 16.5 miles, and turn left at the sign for Chimney Rock. Drive slowly down this narrow road to the trailhead.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, stores, and restaurants at Point Reyes Station. There are a few stores and restaurants in Inverness. Pay phones at the Bear Valley and Ken Patrick Visitor Centers. There are overnight accommodations available on the eastern fringes of the park, including a handful of motels in Inverness, and numerous bed and breakfasts just off Sir Francis Drake. Point Reyes has several hike-in campgrounds -- inquire at the Point Reyes Ranger Station in Bear Valley, or read more about the options here. No car camping in the park. Point Reyes Hostel, down Limantour Road, is an inexpensive lodging option.
No entrance or parking fees. Limited parking in a gravel lot, with no designated handicapped parking. Pit toilets on site. There's a map under glass at the information signboard, but none to take with you. During some times of the year, vehicle access is restricted in this southwestern corner of the park, and visitors are bussed from the visitor center. You may check with a ranger at park headquarters (415-663-1092) to be sure you will be able to drive all the way out to Chimney Rock. There is no direct public transportation to this trailhead.
Hikers only. No dogs.
The Official Story:
Point Reyes website.
Park headquarters 415-663-1092.
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Download the park map pdf from NPS
Other Point Reyes maps from NPS
Point Reyes by Jessica Lage (order this book from Amazon.com) has a good map and descriptions of this hike.
Trail Map of Point Reyes National Seashore, by Tom Harrison (order from Amazon.com) is the best all-purpose map to Point Reyes.
Hiking Marin, by Don and Kay Martin, has a simple map and trail descriptions (order this book from Amazon.com).
101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area, by Ann Marie Brown (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and descriptions of a featured hike.
Chimney Rock in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View photos from the featured hike (2002)
View 30 photos from the featured hike (2000)
Rock may seem like the McDonalds of
the wildflower world, reliably serving thousands of aficionados every
spring. The trailhead gets crowded (even on weekdays) with amateur and
professional photographers, as well as nature lovers clutching field guides.
Hikers seeking a quiet nature experience may wish to look elsewhere. The
display is impressive, though. Carpets of flowers such as goldenfields,
blue-eyed grass, and mule ear sunflowers, are dramatic against a backdrop
of cliffs receding sharply to the ocean. There are two short official
trails, one which drops down from the trailhead to the historic lifeboat
station, and a second which runs out to a bluff overlooking the ocean.
From the overlook near the trailhead, elephant seals can sometimes be
glimpsed during winter, their mating season. In spring, bring binoculars
to spy on migrating whales.