Mount Wittenberg and Bear Valley Loop
ElevationAscent: 1,648' 502 m
Descent: -1,653' -504 m
High: 1,387' 423 m
Low: 78' 24 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 24% (14°)
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“This long but rewarding excursion hits many Point Reyes highlights.”— Megan W
Retrace your steps down from the summit and continue on the Mt Wittenberg trail briefly before intersecting with the Sky Trail. Follow the Sky trail southwards along a ridgeline, then take the right (southwest) fork onto the Woodward Valley trail.
The Woodward Valley trail descends gently along densely wooded ridges and through hillside valleys. Beware on one steep section, then travel is mellow through open fields where the views open up. Exit the Woodward Valley and switchback more steeply down to the coast. Join the Coast Trail - North but be sure to head southeast! (if you reach Coast Camp above the Santa Maria Beach access, you went the wrong way!)
Once on the Coast Trail, watch out for the Sculptured Beach turnoff. This appropriately named beach is known for its sandstone formations built by wind and ocean erosion into arches, tunnels and cliffs. Poke around in the creeks than come from inland and in the pools at waterline for starfish and other ocean life often caught on the beach here. The next beach and fantastic cliffs to the south have additional rock formations and are accessible only during low tides.
Get back on the Coast Trail - North. This section between the Sky and Woodward Valley Trails is spectacular. It traces the coastline in and out of shallow valleys, staying above the beach on bluffs. The next stop off is a spur trail to Kelham Beach. Watch for a huge eucalyptus tree next to the path which leads to the wide, tan, sand oasis of -you guessed it- Kelham Beach.
Rejoin the Coast Trail - North, pass the junction with Sky trail and prepare for one of the highlights: Arch Rock. Take either of the signposted short spur trails (called Arch Rock here) down the narrow isthmus to the point. (keep kids away from the cliff edges here). Some adventurous visitors time their visit for very low tide and low water levels in Coast Creek so that they can climb down to the beach and shimmy through Arch Rock's tunnel.
When you're ready to rejoin civilization, head back to the Coast Trail - North and follow it inland just briefly before it hits the Bear Valley Trail. Take this family friendly trail (Bear Valley Trail) even though it gets considerably more crowded the further inland you venture. Leave the coast behind and meander through open fields, gaining elevation gradually along the bluffs. Enter lush forest and eventually reach the flat junction of Glen Trail, Baldy Trail and Bear Valley Trail, where a bike rack marks the boundary beyond which bike travel is allowed (between here and the Bear Valley Trailhead).
The Bear Valley Trail turns to head north and parallels the Coast Creek which flows to the sea. Once you reach the Douglas fir-rimmed Divide Meadow, the uphill work is over. This pleasant meadow has picnic tables and pit toilets. Pass downhill through an attractive Douglas fir forest, along side the burbling Bear Valley Creek where a wide variety of ferns happily make their home. Back to the real world: the Bear Valley Trail ends at the south end of the parking lots for the hectic Bear Valley Trailhead and visitor center.
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