Triptic In Marin


A three part hike offers a variety of experience.

  • Exercise
  • Pacific Coastal Views
  • Woodland Walk

Part 1 Exercise

To take this hike go to the Point Reyes National Seashore Park Headquarters, see directions for details on getting there. Start out on the Bear Creek Trail but after just 0.2ml take the right hand path off the fire road and head up Mount Wittenberg Trail.

signpost showing the way to mount wittenberg trail

Come off the fire road and head up the single track trail.

The climb is marked as steep on the Park Map but I wouldn’t class it as strenuous like those I’ve reported in Henry Coe or Portola State Park. You’ll make a steady climb of 1000 feet in two miles. The path is, for the most part, single track under tree cover.




a branch has fallen but got stuck on the branch below it.

The Y shape of the branch caught on the branch below. What’s the probability?

As I’m climbing I notice how this tree branch has broken off but its Y shape means it caught nicely on the limb below.

I wonder about the probability of such an event.




a view from the top of the hill showing the coastline in the distance

At the top of the climb you emerge from the woods to see Pt Reyes Shoreline stretching into the distance.


Eventually after what seems like a long climb you emerge just below Mt Wittenberg Peak at the junction of a number of paths. Off in the distance you get your first view of the Pacific and Drakes Esetro.


From this point you have choices I decided to explore the Woodward Valley Trail and it took me on a 13 mile loop but with the appropriate choice of paths you the options for a longer or shorter hike.

heading down the woodward valley trail showing the path at a trail junction

This trail is less dense than the Mt Wittenberg trail.

The path down to the coast is more open than the climb up Mt Wittenberg.

Along the way I meet a couple who point out a large fungus growing under the trees. Continuing down the path I find myself wondering if I will see any deer and of course as though on demand I walk around a corner and find myself confronted by a doe. We stand for a moment, barely 5 ft apart, looking at each other with surprise. She seems to decide that I’m semi threatening and bounds back about 5 yards where she stops and checks me again. I’m frozen waiting to get my camera out. She decides eating is a higher priority than I am so she goes back to eating the foliage. I get my shot. Another couple come up behind me and are nice enough to wait until I’ve finished my pictures.

a close up of a doe looking at the camera

We startled each other on the path.

a collage of flowers seen on the trail

The path is decorated with many flowers, often in large clusters.



Then its on down to the coast.
There is an abundance of flowers along the path as well as a variety of fungi.


I keep meeting up with the couple who came up behind me when we met Mrs. Doe. They are from Austin on their annual trip to California, purpose not revealed, but they always add a couple of days to hike at Point Reyes. Its clear they think this is a wonderful place and they wonder why there are not more people out on the trails. Eventually we part company as they find the shortest route back up to their car and I head out along the coast.

Part 2 Pacific Coastal Views

a break in the cliffs showing how the cliff has split apart.

Seems like this cliff has sheared in two.

The Woodland Valley Trail eventually takes you gently down to the cliff tops overlooking the Pacific. Here you can see the Point Reyes seashore arching out gently to the west with long stretches of sandy beaches. The Coast Trail takes me south along the cliff tops. The path gently undulates sometimes taking you a little inland, sometimes much closer to the cliffs.

signpost giving directions to sculptured beach

Directions to Sculptured Beach


Along the path you’ll find a couple of spur paths that take you down to local beaches.


Large Eucalyptus tree makes a good place for lunch

Good place to stop and take lunch




Lunch time and a grand old Eucalyptus tree presents the perfect spot to sit in the shade.




view of kilham beach from up on the cliffs

Kilham Beach

After lunch the Coast Trail take up slightly up hill where there is a great view of Kelham Beach.





Occasionally the odd bird flies by and then I’m treated to a “squadron” of Brown Pelicans heading north up the coast. I’m always amazed at the way these birds manage to use the air currents to keep flying often flying for long periods by gliding through the air.

Not too much further down the trail is the junction with Bear Valley Trail and the path back to the car park.

Part 3 Woodland Walk


bear valley trail showing the woodland and light falling through the trees

Bear Valley Trail taking you back to the visitors center

There isn’t too much to say about this path because I think its something you have to experience. Its now early afternoon and after the exercise of Mt Wittenberg and the great pacific views this path presents a stark contrast. The path is dappled in sunlight, the creek babbles gently alongside the path. Occasionally the odor from the Bay Trees drifts into your nostrils. On this particular afternoon the temperature is moderate making for perfect walking weather. This stretch of the trail is about 3 miles long and provides a way for many people to get to the beach. So along the trail I meet a variety of people coming and going but for the most part the walk is undisturbed and very peaceful. Eventually I’m back in the car park and thinking that a cold drink would be nice but neither did I bring one nor does the Visitors Center sell them, which seems to me like a lost revenue opportunity. But, the visitors center is worth a mention. If you haven’t been here this center is worth a visit with some great information about the park and its wildlife. The park straddles the San Andreas fault and you can find information about the fault line and take a walk out to see a rift in the ground caused by previous earthquakes. Oh, but I wish they had a cold drinks machine!

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