One of the best things about staying at HI Point Reyes hostel is the proximity to pure, unadulterated nature. There’s serenity amongst the trees and soul-refreshing air blowing in from the Pacific Ocean, and guests from far and wide flock to the hostel as base from which they can explore the expanse of Point Reyes National Seashore. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just enjoy relaxing walks in the wild, you’ll find a trail to satisfy your yearning for the great outdoors.
Limantour Beach Hike
After you check-in and check your dorm or private room, get going with a two-mile hike to Limantour Beach. From the hostel’s front door, take Limantour Road for an easy, generally flat path straight to the ocean, and on the way you’re likely to encounter several species of birds since the Point Reyes National Seashore is the top national park in the country for birding. Limantour Beach is a serene stretch with majestic headlands lining the coast all the way to infinity and wetlands behind the dunes where wildlife abounds.
According to Nancy at the hostel’s front desk: “To get the best view in the park, you can do a big loop from the hostel. The spot is at the top of the Bucklin trail, and there is a picnic table and bench for leisurely enjoying the view after you have earned it finishing over half the hike. You get there by going the other direction on the Laguna trail, to Bayview trail, to Inverness Ridge Trail, to the Bucklin Trail. Have a rest, then descend on Bucklin and circle back to the hostel on Muddy Hollow Road (not the same as the Muddy Hollow Trail). The whole loop is just under eight miles.”
Mount Wittenberg Loop
If you’re at the Bear Valley Visitor Center and looking for a more challenging hike with stunning scenery for a reward, then try out the five-mile Mount Wittenberg Loop, which starts at the Bear Valley Trailhead. The trail takes you through forests of tall oak and fir trees as well as beautiful green expanses of meadows. It’s mostly flat until you start climbing along the Mt. Wittenberg Trail about 0.2 miles in, but the views of the Olema Valley make it all totally worth it, and afterwards it’s a steady descent down to the main trailhead.
Another trail that’s easily accessed from HI Point Reyes hostel is the Laguna-Coast loop, which brings hikers along a beautiful but not-too-tough trek through coastal scrub and lush grasslands. You’ll encounter creeks and birds of all shapes and sizes, and you can make it an extended beach trip as well by bringing lunch to enjoy on Limantour or Sculpture beach. The trail starts and ends at the Laguna trailhead and Coast trailhead respectively, which are both right near the hostel, making them this loop excellent for a morning jaunt.
Sky-Bear Valley Loop
Those looking for more of a challenge and a good day’s worth of hiking through varied landscapes will find various loops and trails starting at the Bear Valley Visitor Center and leading to the beach. The Sky Trail – accessible from the Mount Wittenberg Trail – meets up with the Coastal Trail after a hike through fir forests, meadows and stretches of wide ocean views. Enjoy your lunch on the secluded Kelham Beach before heading back up along Bear Valley Trail, which hugs a sweet little creek for most of the way.
Alamere Falls Hike
This one is not as close to the hostel as the others, but it’s definitely worth checking out for the adventure of getting there and seeing the spectacular 30-foot tall waterfall cascading onto the beach. The most popular way to get to the falls is from the Palomarin trailhead, about a 45-minute drive from HI Point Reyes, which leads into the northern part of the Coast Trail. You’ll hug the ocean for a while and head inland past Bass Lake, which is a popular spot to swim in the summer time before hiking down to the Alamere Falls Trail all the way to the beach. As you can imagine, this is an extremely popular trail on nice days, so access is sometimes limited by the Parks Service if you don’t get there early enough.
HI USA Tip: While you’re visiting the hostel flex your Instagram muscles at these photo-worthy spots in and around the park and take a look at hostel manager Hanna’s recommendations for a perfect summer in Point Reyes.