7.3 mile loop through Point Reyes coastal scrub.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This is one of the easiest 7 mile loop hikes in the bay
area. Trailhead elevation is around 80 feet. The featured hike's high spot
is around 305 feet. Total elevation change is about 700 feet.
Almost totally exposed.
Dirt trails and fire roads.
Muddy in winter. In summer you might be able to sneak a few salmonberries.
From US 101 in Marin County, exit Sir Francis Drake/San Anselmo. Drive west
about 20 miles, to the junction with CA 1 in Olema. Turn right, drive about
0.1 mile, then turn left onto Bear Valley Road. Drive about 2 miles, then
turn left onto Limantour Road. Drive about 5.7 miles, and turn right at
the Muddy Hollow sign (the same junction with the road to the hostel). Drive
about 0.2 mile to the trailhead at the end of the gravel road.
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:
Pay phone, stores, and restaurants on Sir Francis Drake in Inverness. Gas
in Point Reyes Station. 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 -- enquire 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, a short distance from this
trailhead, is an inexpensive lodging option.
Plenty of parking in a gravel lot. No parking or entrance fees. No designated
handicapped parking, and trails are not wheelchair accessible. No drinking
water, maps, or toilet facilities. Pay phone and maps available at the Bear
Valley Visitor Center: from Bear Valley Road turn left before the Limantour
turnoff, at the red barn. There is no direct public transportation to this
No dogs or bikes. All trails are open to hikers and equestrians.
The Official Story:
NPS's Point Reyes
Bear Valley Visitor Center (Ranger Station) 415-464-5100
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
the park map pdf from NPS
Point Reyes maps from NPS
Point Reyes by Jessica Lage (order
this book from Amazon.com) has a good map and descriptions of trails
around Muddy Hollow.
Trail Map of Point Reyes National Seashore, by Tom Harrison
(order from Amazon.com)
is the best all-purpose map to Point Reyes.
Don and Kay Martin's Point Reyes National Seashore (order
this book from Amazon.com) has a good map and descriptions of the featured
hike. The same information can be found in their Hiking Marin book
this book from Amazon.com).
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
Most Point Reyes
visitors know that Limantour
Road leads to the hostel and is a quick route to a gorgeous beach. A number of
the seashore's lesser-known and most primitive trailheads are reached
from Limantour as well.
Lonely Muddy Hollow is the starting point for
a number of loop hikes. You can trek up Bucklin Trail through the area
devastated by the 1995 Mount Vision fire, and return via Drakes View Trail,
a 7 mile loop. For a 9-mile loop, string together Bayview, Laguna, and
Coast Trail, finishing up on the gravel road past the hostel and down
to Muddy Hollow. Or extend the featured hike by remaining on Muddy Hollow
Road at the junction with Glenbrook. Turn left on White Gate Road, left
on Estero, and then turn right at the junction with Glenbrook and continue
the featured hike.
The area around Muddy Hollow offers exceptional wildlife viewing. You may see tule
elk; some of the herd from Tomales Point have been relocated to this part
of the seashore. Songbirds and hawks are common and rabbits (and rabbit fur) may be
glimpsed throughout the coastal scrub. Fox, coyote, bobcat, and even mountain
lion also roam these lands. From Estero Trail in spring you may be able to
see (with binoculars) harbor seals beached on Limantour Spit (these sea
mammals are easily disturbed so never approach them). Berry enthusiasts
hiking in summer may find themselves in purple-stained
finger heaven. Blackberry brambles sprawl across hillsides, thimbleberries hide in the shade on
Estero Trail, and salmonberries, rare in the bay area, line Muddy Hollow
From the parking area at the trailhead,
start in front of the trail markers at the junction of Muddy Hollow
Road and Muddy Hollow Trail. Walk north on Muddy Hollow Road (toward Bayview Trail), open
to equestrians and hikers only. After a few steps on the wide trail you'll
cross a creek then step into coastal scrub. At 0.11 mile, Bayview Trail heads uphill to the right at
a signed junction. Continue straight on Muddy Hollow Road.
Some cypress, bush lupine, ceanothus,
and Bishop pine grow near the junction; coyote brush is the dominant trailside
plant. Muddy Hollow Road climbs gently, with a new forest of Bishop
pines continuing to march across the hillsides burned in the Mount Vision fire. Look to the right
for a rocky outcrop on the side of the hill. At 0.93 mile, Muddy Hollow
Road meets Bucklin Trail at a signed junction. Continue straight on
Muddy Hollow Road.
The trail bends toward the right and begins to descend gently through coastal scrub. This segment replaces the old fire road, shifting traffic away from Greenbrook Creek's damp upper basin instead traveling across hillsides to the north of the old section. This is a very quiet part of the park. You are likely to see wildflowers blooming in every month of the year, from ceanothus in winter to monkeyflower in autumn. Muddy Hollow Road (though here a narrow path) crosses a bridge and begins an easy climb through grassland and pine. The trail
crests, and meets Glenbrook Trail at
a signed junction at 2.30 miles. Turn left on Glenbrook.
The trail, closed to cyclists, climbs easily
through coyote brush and pine. You might see
ears, clover, iris, California buttercup, and blue-eyed grass in spring.
As Glenbrook levels out and heads south toward the ocean, on a clear day
look back to the north for views of Mount Vision, and east to recap the hike so far.
Glenbrook is straight and the trail surface is grassy. Hawks and harriers swoop overhead, searching
for cottontails. I'd say from the amount of rabbit fur along the trail,
they are frequently successful. At 3.00 miles, Glenbrook Trail ends at
a signed junction with Estero Trail. Remain straight, now on Estero Trail.
From here it's a lonely 4 miles to the
next trail junction. Estero continues at a slightly descending pace. Limantour
Estero is visible to the right. You might hear sea lions or harbor seals
beached on Limantour Spit. Ignore any side paths as Estero turns left,
away from the ocean, and heads back to the north. Estero Trail descends
gently, passes a few eucalyptus, then turns and crosses Glenbrook Creek on a bridge. Estero Trail meanders through an enchanting little
pocket of alders, thimbleberry, nettle, and salmonberry. In spring, huge
cow parsnips tower over 5 feet, while miner's lettuce and candyflower
nestle close to the damp ground. After passing through the pocket of green
near the creek, Estero Trail, now shrunken to a narrow path, steps back out into coastal
Spring flowers include iris, blue-eyed grass, paintbrush, lupines, and
checker-bloom -- watch out for poison oak here. Elk are now common in this part of Point Reyes, and you may see them (usually in herds) or at least their scat. On an October hike I startled a herd that were munching at the edge of the marsh. They ran off in a hurry, with aquatic plants streaming from their heads like green wigs. The trail bends left (the old trail segment which went south to Muddy Hollow) is fenced off and closed) and begins to climb along the slope of a long hill. Bishop pine line the trail but grassland still dominates here (but for how long -- the trees grow fast!). Iris are gorgeous in spring, and in summer you may see a variety of butterflies, including buckeyes, checkerspots, and mylitta crescents. Estero Trail keeps climbing, but the grade is easy, and before long you'll be cresting the hill. A bench on the left offers great views past sloping grassland and coastal scrub north to Chimney Rock. Now the sandy path descends, bisecting a crowded Bishop pine forest. These young trees should thin themselves in the next 10 years, and a new understory may fill in, including huckleberry and salal. Once through the forest, the trail drops into Muddy Hollow and ends at 7 miles. Turn left onto Muddy Hollow Trail.
The wide alder-lined fire road offers an easy return to the trailhead -- it's just 0.3 mile back to the parking lot.
: 7.30 miles
Last hiked: Thursday, October 10, 2012