Mt Wittenberg via the Mt Wittenberg Trail, Point Reyes: Bear Valley Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California

Mt Wittenberg via the Mt Wittenberg Trail - 4.7 miles

Point Reyes: Bear Valley Trailhead

Views west towards the ocean from the Mt Wittenberg Trail

Views west towards the ocean from the Mt Wittenberg Trail

Round-Trip Length: 4.7 miles
Start-End Elevation: 125' - 1,407' (1,407' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,282' net elevation gain (+1,309' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Mt Wittenberg via the Mt Wittenberg Trail - 4.7 Miles Round-Trip

Mt Wittenberg - Point Reyes' highest point (1,407') - rises unassumingly from Inverness Ridge, a topographical demarcation between coastal and inland facing-slopes that influences local weather patterns and ecological compositions.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Visitors will enjoy commanding views of Drakes Bay, Olema Valley and miles of coastal headlands from its open, rounded summit. The shortest (albeit steepest) route begins at the Bear Valley Visitor Center and ventures off on a challenging push up the Mt Wittenberg Trail.

The Bear Valley Trail glides gently through grassy meadow to the Mt Wittenberg Trail junction and bears right (.2 miles : 145'). In short order the Wittenberg Trail grows uncompromisingly steep, climbing tightly-wound switchbacks beneath a thick fir canopy. You'll enjoy a brief reprieve and some direct sunlight while skirting a narrow meadow (.95 miles : 620') before resuming an arduous pace through the forest.

Notable is the trail's rich arboreal diversity, draping lichens, mosses and sprawling ferns whose deep greens are enhanced by rain and fog rain in this primordial setting. Occasional openings on the ascent reveal steep ravines below and a small measure of topographical perspective. A thinning canopy in the trail's upper reaches yields improving views and a varied understory.

The trail suddenly eases and emerges from the canopy in a spacious hillside at the Z Ranch Trail - Wittenberg Summit Trail junction (2.0 miles : 1,230'). Though directional signs are questionably positioned, bear right and intuitively follow the Wittenberg Summit Trail uphill. You'll alternate through open hillsides of rattlesnake grass and pocket glades until leveling off - and curling about - the rounded summit of Mt Wittenberg (2.35 miles : 1,407').

Surprisingly, the precise location of Mt Wittenberg's summit is difficult to pinpoint. The trail simply fades out in tall grass while many social and game trails extend in every direction.

On clear days this unusual summit approach enjoys topographic context, but fog will likely obscure your sense of location. In either case maintain your bearings and do not lose sight of how you came. Easily explored, Mt Wittenberg's lofty perch offers unparalleled views of the Inverness Ridge, Olema Valley and miles of unspoiled Pacific coastline.

If time permits, consider returning via the slightly longer Meadow Trail to form a 5.4 mile loop (vs the Wittenberg Trail's 4.7 mile out-and-back distance). The Meadow Trail offers a more gradual descent that includes travel through a lengthy, sun-bathed meadow for which it was named.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 02.375 W122 47.986 — 0.0 miles : Bear Valley Trailhead
  • N38 02.191 W122 48.011 — .2 miles : Mt Wittenberg Trail junction - turn right
  • N38 02.188 W122 48.636 — .95 miles : Brief reprieve in meadow
  • N38 02.243 W122 49.427 — 2.0 miles : Wittenberg Summit - Z Ranch Trail junction
  • N38 02.326 W122 49.366 — 2.35 miles : Mt Wittenberg summit

Worth Noting

  • The summit of Mt Wittenberg is cloistered by trees and limits views. The best views are seen from the broad meadows adjacent to the summit trail junction (. 2 miles from the summit).

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Camping is by permit only. Camping permits must be obtained from the Bear Valley Visitor Center before starting your trip. If you have made a reservation and are arriving after 5 p.m., a permit will be left for you in a small wooden box on the back side of the information board outside the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

  • Campsites may be reserved up to three months in advance. To obtain a reservation, call 415.663.8054 between 9 am and 2 pm, Monday - Friday. Reservations by phone are not accepted at any other time. You may make reservations in person 7 days a week at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. You may also fax your reservation using our fax form and fax number: 415.464.5149.

  • Wood fires are prohibited in hike-in campgrounds. Only gas stoves, charcoal or canned heat may be used for cooking. Downed wood may not be gathered and burned.

  • Camping is limited to 4 nights per visit, with a maximum of 30 nights per year.

  • The minimum age of any camper is 18 unless accompanied by an adult.

  • Pets are not permitted in campgrounds. The maximum number of horses or pack animals in any campground is eight. Pack animals and horses must be tied to hitch rails.

Wildcat Camp - Campground Information

  • Wildcat Camp is located in a coastal meadow between bluffs and the ocean It's located 5.65 miles from the Palomarin Trailhead, 7.8 miles from the Bear Valley Trailhead, and 6.7 miles from Five Brooks Trailhead.

  • There are 5 individual sites and 3 group sites; three of the individual sites only hold up to four people. Each site has a picnic table, food storage locker and charcoal grill. Group sites have two picnic tables, two food storage lockers and one large or two regular charcoal grills.

Glen Camp - Campground Information

  • Glen Camp is tucked in a quiet wooded valley, 4.6 miles from the Bear Valley Visitor Center via the Bear Valley Trail and Glen Trail. To access via bicycle, start at the Five Brooks Trailhead and follow the Stewart Trail to the Glen Trail, then north to the Glen Camp Loop. This is 6.3 mile bike ride. No groups, horses, or pack animals are allowed at Glen Camp. There are 12 individual sites at Glen Camp.

Sky Camp - Campground Information

  • Sky Camp is located on the west side of Mt. Wittenberg in open rolling meadows, 1.4 miles from the Sky Trailhead on Limantour Road. The site is located at 1,025'. On clear days it provides sweeping panoramas across Drakes Bay. Sky Camp has 11 individual sites and 1 group site.

Coast Camp - Campground Information

  • Coast Camp is located in a small coastal valley with easy access to Santa Maria Beach. The shortest route begins from the Laguna Trailhead, and travels 1.8 miles on the Laguna and Firelane Trails. It's also accessible from the Coast Trailhead for a longer but easier 2.7 mile route that's also open to bikes.
  • Coast Camp is located approximately 9.5 miles from the Bear Valley Visitor Center via the Bear Valley and Coast Trails. 12 individual sites and two group sites are available. Sites 1-7 are in a semi-protected canyon.

Rules and Regulations

  • Bikes and Dogs are not permitted on the Mt Wittenberg Trail.

Directions to Trailhead

The Bear Valley Trailhead is located at the southwest end of the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

From Highway 1, take Bear Valley Road west about 1/2 mile. Look for a big red barn on the left and a sign for Seashore information on the right. Turn left past the red barn and follow signs to the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Continue through the main parking lot to the far end and Bear Valley Trailhead parking area.

Contact Information

Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Rd.
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Visitor Information: 415.464.5100 x2 or 415.663.8522 x2

Headquarters: 415.464.5100 x 1

Volunteer Information: 415.464.5145

Education Programs: 415.464.5139

Special Use Permits: 415.464.5111

Fax: 415.663.8132

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"I have hiked a lot of places and was most taken with the needle carpeted floor of the dark woods when approaching the top of Mt. Wittenberg from Bear Valley. What is the cause of that dramatic area - and what is the history of Wittenberg?? I intend to return. Judy Williams"
Judy Williams  -  Ukiah, CA  -  Date Posted: November 2, 2014


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