Palomarin Beach, Point Reyes: Palomarin Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California

Palomarin Beach - 1.45 miles

Point Reyes: Palomarin Trailhead

The narrow, rocky crescent of Palomarin Beach

The narrow, rocky crescent of Palomarin Beach

Round-Trip Length: 1.45 miles
Start-End Elevation: 255' - 0' (276' max elevation)
Elevation Change: -255' net elevation loss (+297' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Palomarin Beach - 1.45 Miles Round-Trip

Palomarin Beach is located on the southernmost tip of Point Reyes National Seashore. This thin, rocky strand features tide pools and seasonal harbor seal haul-outs. A short but steep drop on a spur off the Coast Trail winds through eucalyptus groves and coastal scrub down to the beach, where low tide reveals an expansive honeycomb of tide pools.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Head north for good views of Abalone Point and sea stacks just off shore, or south for views of the opening to Bolinas Bay, the Marin Headlands and San Francisco.

From Palomarin Trailhead, the Coast Trail passes through eucalyptus stands to an information sign and map on your right (.12 miles : 275'). The Palomarin Beach spur is just across the trail from this sign, unmarked but easily found in a clearing with coastal panoramas and a look down at the path you'll take to the beach.

The Palomarin Beach Trail drops steeply, winding through the vestiges of eucalyptus into thick coastal scrub. Plants in this community are uniquely tolerant of harsh conditions - persistent winds, little rain, blowing salt spray and poor soils. Manzanita, California sagebrush, lupine and nettles line the path and may obscure it.

The trail narrows considerably along unstable terrain on the final steps down to Palomarin Beach (.72 miles : 0'). Low tide reveals a network of tide pools just south of the beach entry-exit point.

This is called the intertidal zone, an area exposed to air at low tide and submerged at high tide. Along the California coast, the intertidal zone is about 9'wide, which spans the highest high and the lowest low tide.

Sub-regions and micro-habitats within support an array of fascinating marine creatures such as anemones, barnacles, sea stars, urchins, crabs, mussels, snails, sea cucumbers, sponges and kelp.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N37 56.057 W122 44.826 — 0.0 miles : Palomarin Trailhead
  • N37 55.979 W122 44.885 — .45 miles : Winding descent through coastal scrub
  • N37 55.825 W122 44.738 — .72 miles : Palomarin Beach

Worth Noting

  • The short distance and easy tide pool access make Palomarin Beach an ideal choice for young families.

  • Bluffs over Palomarin afford some of the best ocean views along the entire 17 mile long Coast Trail. Those with time may consider heading a bit past the Palomarin Beach spur to reach these choice points. Visitors will earn a chance to see migrating whales just off the coast, or harbor seals basking on rocky shores below.

  • Anemones avoid dehydration during low tides by folding in on themselves, thus reducing exposed surface area and the opportunity to lose water. Interestingly, anemones can can actually clone themselves. In some parts of the intertidal zone, you may fine entire communities of anemones that are all clones of one individual.

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've made a reservation and arrive 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 Palomarin Trailhead, 7.8 miles from 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 individual 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 located 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, 1.8 miles south of the Laguna Trailhead via the Laguna and Firelane Trails. It's also accessible from the Coast Trailhead for a longer but easier 2.7 mile route that's open to bicycles.
  • 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

  • Dogs are not permitted on the Coast Trail.
  • Bikes are not permitted on the Coast Trail.
  • Wood Fires: Permits are now required for any wood fire within the National Seashore. Permits are available at visitor centers, the dispatch office, and from field rangers. Permits may only be obtained on the day you plan on having a fire. The permit is free. Permits are not available or valid during high, very high or extreme fire danger. For current fire information, call 415.464.5100 x2 x1.
  • Wood Fire Locations: Wood fires are allowed only on beaches (below the high tide line, if possible), 9 meters (30 feet) or more from vegetation and other flammable material - nowhere else.
  • Wood Fire Fuel: Reasonable amounts of driftwood may be gathered from beaches. Driftwood should be dry and clean (i.e., no wood coated with creosote or other chemicals, no wood embedded with nails or other metal objects), and shouldn't be much larger or longer than your arm.
  • Fire Size and Dousing: The fire may not be more than 0.9 meters (36 inches) in diameter.Before leaving your beach fire, put it out completely with water. Douse the fire with water, stir the coals, douse with water again. Repeat until the coals do not emit any heat. Do not cover coals with sand, as it will only insulate the heat and be an unseen danger to wildlife and barefoot visitors.
  • Fires must be extinguished by 12 midnight.

Directions to Trailhead

The Palomarin Trailhead is located 15.4 miles south of the Highway 1 – Sir Francis Drake Intersection in Olema, CA (or 15.9 miles from the Bear Valley Visitor Center).

From Highway 1 – Sir Francis Drake Intersection:

Head south on Highway 1 for 9.1 miles to the Olema-Bolinas Road intersection and bear right. This is an unmarked ‘Y’ intersection (if you find yourself driving with the Bolinas Lagoon on your right, you’ve gone too far).

Continue 1.3 miles to the stop sign on Horseshoe Hill Road. Turn Left to remain on the Olema-Bolinas Road. Continue .5 miles to Mesa Road and turn right (west). Travel 4.5 miles on Mesa Road to its terminus at the Palomarin Trailhead and Parking Lot.

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

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