What’s Best: Miles of beachcombing, estuaries glittering with birdlife, and coastal hiking trails along sculpted bluffs landscape that swallows a parking lot full of nature-loving visitors. Limantour is world-class.
Parking: From Olema: Jog north on Hwy. 1 and turn left on Bear Valley Rd. Pass visitors center and turn left on Limantour Rd. From Pt. Reyes Station: Go south on Hwy. 1, turn right on Sir Francis Drake Blvd, left on Bear Valley Rd, and then right on Limantour Rd. Follow Limantour Rd, some 8 ml. to parking at coast. Agency: Point Reyes National Seashore Limantour Spit is named for a French commander on his day of ignominy in 1841, when he ran aground a Mexican trading ship.
Take the paved path down from the parking area and go right on the beach. You’ll have more than 2 miles of open sand. Look for harbor seals, or the larger sea lions, to bob their sleek heads from the surf. Squadrons of pelicans often soar above the swells. The spit ends at the opening to Drakes Estero, across from Drakes Beach, TH74. For the Limantour Spit-Estero loop a bird-watcher’s special go right from the paved path, just before you cross the beach dunes. Along this inland path’s mile-long route, you’ll see narrow inlets at Muddy Hollow and Glenbrook Creek, before viewing the larger Estero de Limantour near trail’s end. A connector path leads left at isoltated trees, through dunes to the beach. Walk the sand back to complete the loop.
LIMANTOUR BEACH MAP SAN FRANCISCO Photo Gallery
For the Limantour to Sculptured Beach hike along which the dunes rise and bluffs begin go left at the beach after taking the .25-mile path. About .5-mile down the beach, you’ll see a creek gully to your left, where the Coast Trail comes down from the Point Reyes Hostel. At 1.5 miles down the beach, a second creek comes in, this one usually crossing the sand to the sea; from here a short trail leads to the Coast Camp and joins the Coast Trail. About .25-mile farther now on Santa Maria Beach you come to Santa Maria Creek, with the most flow of all.
Beyond the beach, you can walk trails over low bluffs to Sculptured Beach, where tidal action has artistically eroded bluffs and created tide pools. Cliffs and tides soon make the route impossible. To go farther south, take a feeder trail up to the Coast Trail. Be Aware: Don’t let tides or sleeper waves catch you off guard in little coves. Also, the cliffs here are unstable and present a hazard for every level of hiker.
The buth Hostel-Coast Camp loop is a gentle hike through scrub and grassland, with superlative ocean views. Parking: Drive to the trailhead near the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center-Pt. Reyes Yfouth Hostel.
The trailhead is a short drive from Limantour Road, to your left about a mile before reaching the beach. Beginning on a slight uphill on the Laguna Trail, you then descend on a 1.75-mile route to join the Coast Trail at Santa Maria Beach joining the Fire Lane Trail about halfway down. At the coast, go right on the Coast Trail, on low bluffs for a mile. Then the trail hooks inland and follows a stream back up to the hostel.
Bike: The Coast Trail from the Point Reyes Hostel is bike-friendly for 2.75-miles, to Coast Camp. Once at the camp, you can walk south. Hiking the bluffs over the next 3.5 miles, you’ll pass Secret Beach, Point Resistance, Kelham Beach, and then arrive at Arch Rock.