Bear Valley Trail to Arch Rock, Point Reyes: Bear Valley Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California
Bear Valley Trail to Arch Rock - 8.8 miles
Point Reyes: Bear Valley Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.8 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||125' - 70' (378' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||-55' net elevation loss (+606' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
The Bear Valley Trail is one of Point Reyes' most popular trails serving hikers, runners, cyclists, and equestrians . It begins at the Bear Valley Visitor Center and runs south through a rich sequence of towering fir forests, coastal chaparral, and scrub to a scenic bluff with panoramic views of Drakes Bay. Carved from its base is Arch Rock, accessible by nimble hikers at low tide.
Connections with the Woodpecker, Mt Wittenberg, Meadow, Divide Meadow, Old Pine, Baldy, Glen and Coast trails make the Bear Valley Trail an ideal starting point for extended routing through the Park:
The Bear Valley Trail rises gently through grassy meadows into a thick fir forest. A wide gravel path moves easily past connections for the Mt Wittenberg Trail (.2 miles) and Meadow Trail (.8 miles) to a break in the forest at Divide Meadow (1.65 miles : 365'). This is the Bear Valley Trail's highest point, and an ideal place to look for wildlife.
The trail tilts downhill from Divide Meadow beside Coast Creek and glides gently back into a lush mix of fir, oak, laurel, and buckeye (1.8 miles). The maintained path ends at the Glen Trail - Baldy Trail junction (3.2 miles : 168'), past which it narrows and bikes are no longer permitted. Note the absence of fir and rapidly changing forest composition beyond this point.
At 3.9 miles the landscape abruptly transitions to coastal chaparral and scrub - a zone characterized by diminutive, hardy brush adapted to the coast's saline, intemperate environment.
The trail bends away from Coast Creek down a tapering headland to the Coast Trail junction (4.1 miles : 105'). Follow signs past this and a second Coast Trail junction toward Arch Rock.
The final stretch leads down a protruding headland - increasingly isolated by Bear Valley's steep ravine (south) and coastal cliffs (north) - to the bluff edge and Arch Rock Overlook (4.4 miles : 70'). This spectacular vantage hovers over two unspoiled beaches and miles of pristine coastline. Just off shore sea stacks - vertical rock column remnants of eroded headlands - are rhythmically pummeled by waves and relentless winds.
To reach Arch Rock, backtrack a few steps to the unmarked spur (south side) heading down into the Coast Creek ravine. This steep, unstable path switchbacks to the creek, which you'll follow down to the ocean. Arch Rock can be seen just before reaching the coast (which may not be accessible during high tide), but a short rock scramble leads to the southern beach and full arch access.
Low tide permits close inspection, wading through the arch and further beach exploration. Be cognizant of the time and tides, as it's quite possible to become stranded.
Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View Interactive Google Map
- N38 02.375 W122 47.986 — Bear Valley Trailhead
- N38 02.191 W122 48.011 — .2 miles : Mt Wittenberg Trail junction
- N38 01.733 W122 48.168 — .8 miles : Meadow Trail junction
- N38 01.170 W122 48.061 — 1.65 miles : Divide Meadow Trail junction
- N37 59.962 W122 47.931 — 3.2 miles : Glen Trail - Baldy Trail junction
- N37 59.440 W122 48.631 — 4.1 miles : Coast Trail junction #1
- N37 59.369 W122 48.732 — 4.25 miles : Coast Trail junction #2
- N37 59.217 W122 48.800 — 4.4 miles : Arch Rock Overlook
- Even surfaces, mild grades, and climactic views make this one of Point Reyes' best trail runs.
- This is a popular, heavily used trail. Get an early start to avoid crowds and secure parking. Those with time should consider traveling north on the Coast Trail for additional perspective and solitude.
- Divide Meadow housed the Bear Valley Country Club, which operated from the late 1800s to 1940.
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 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 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 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.
- Coast Camp is nestled 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 miles route that's also 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.
Wildcat Camp - Campground Information
Glen Camp - Campground Information
Coast Camp - Campground Information
Rules and Regulations
- Bikes are permitted on the Bear Valley Trail from the Bear Valley Visitor Center south to the Glen and Baldy Trail junctions. Bikes are not permitted beyond this point. To reach Arch Rock, you must leave your bike at the bike rack and continue on foot.
- Horses are not permitted on the Bear Valley Trail between the Wittenberg and Baldy Trail junctions on holidays and weekends.
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.
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