Sky Trail to Arch Rock, Point Reyes: Sky Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California
Sky Trail to Arch Rock - 13.8 miles
Point Reyes: Sky Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||13.8 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||680' - 70' (1,117' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||-610' net elevation loss (+2,012' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Sky Trail to Arch Rock - 13.8 Miles Round-Trip
Arch Rock is located 6.9 miles from Sky Trailhead in Point Reyes National Seashore. The arch is carved from the base of a protruding headland at the approximate mid-point of Drakes Bay, which collapsed on March 21, 2015.
Fissures in the headland were first reported on Thursday March 19, 2015. One person was killed and another injured as the bluffs crumbled 70' down to the coast. The access trail leading up to Arch Rock overlook is now closed until further notice.
While the Bear Valley Trail is the easiest and most direct route, visitors will enjoy a more varied and lightly traveled approach on the Sky Trail and Coast Trail, which scales Inverness Ridge and levels over open coastal terraces to the overlook:
Sky Trail climbs steeply on packed gravel to connections for the Fire Lane Trail (.85 miles : 1,065') and Horse Trail (.9 miles : 1,047'). Travel eases through Sky Camp (1.4 miles : 1,040'), where primitive restrooms and water are available.
The trail rises past Sky Camp under a tall canopy to the Wittenberg Summit Trail - Meadows Trail split - the trail's highest point (1.95 miles : 1,115'). This diverting stretch weaves through uniform pine and a cluttered bramble understory to the Woodward Trail split in the center of a small meadow (2.75 miles : 965').
Sky Trail moderates to the Old Pine Trail split (3.05 miles : 1,062'), and through a meadow delineated by a N-S ridge (3.7 miles : 895'). From its crest you'll have coastal views and useful, albeit temporary, topographic perspective. Arboreal characteristics change through 4 miles to the Baldy Trail split (4.4 miles : 900'), where timber yields to coastal chaparral and scrub.
Sky Trail turns decisively toward the ocean and winds quickly down open hills to the Coast Trail (6.0 miles : 145'); turn left toward The Bear Valley Trail and Arch Rock. The Coast Trail runs flat over broad coastal terraces to the Bear Valley Trail split (6.55 miles : 105'); turn right toward Arch Rock.
The final stretch runs down a tapered headland to Arch Rock Overlook (6.9 miles : 70'), with views over Kelham Beach (north), Wildcat Beach (south) and wave-battered sea stacks just off shore.
To reach the arch, backtrack a few steps to an unmarked spur (south side) and head down into the Coast Creek ravine. This steep, unstable path switchbacks to the creek, which you'll intuitively follow to the ocean.
Arch Rock can be seen just before reaching the beach (7.0 miles), which may not be accessible during high tide. Be cognizant of the time and tides, as it's possible to become stranded.
- N38 03.291 W122 50.279 — 0.0 miles : Sky Trailhead
- N38 02.779 W122 49.850 — .85 miles : Fire Lane Trail junction
- N38 02.744 W122 49.786 — .9 miles : Horse Trail junction
- N38 02.395 W122 49.688 — 1.4 miles : Sky Camp
- N38 02.019 W122 49.599 — 1.95 miles : Wittenberg Summit-Meadows Trail junction
- N38 01.527 W122 49.466 — 2.75 miles : Woodward Trail junction
- N38 01.326 W122 49.309 — 3.05 miles : Old Pine Trail junction
- N38 00.880 W122 49.127 — 3.7 miles : Pass through grassy meadow
- N38 00.367 W122 48.717 — 4.4 miles : Baldy Trail junction
- N38 00.175 W122 48.753 — Descend to Coast Trail
- N37 59.637 W122 48.987 — 6.0 miles : Coast Trail junction (turn left)
- N37 59.440 W122 48.631 — 6.55 miles : Coast Trail - Bear Valley Trail junction
- N37 59.217 W122 48.800 — 6.9 miles : Arch Rock Overlook
- While this route is lightly traveled, Arch Rock is one of the most popular destinations in Point Reyes, and crowds build daily.
- There's little room to maneuver at the base of Arch Rock, even at low tide. Be mindful of the tides - it's quite possible to be struck by a wave when exploring the area.
- Consider returning to the Sky Trailhead via the Coast, Woodward, and Sky Trail. This route provides access to Kelham Beach and Sculptured Beach, two very worthwhile excursions.
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've made a reservation and arrive 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 - Campground Information
- Wildcat Camp is located in a coastal meadow between bluffs and the ocean. It's located 5.65 miles from Palomarin Trailhead, 7.8 miles from 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 - Campground Information
- 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.
Sky Camp - Campground Information
- Sky Camp is located on the west side of Mt. Wittenberg in open rolling meadows, 1.4 miles from the Sky Trailhead on Limantour Road. The site is located at 1,025'. On clear days it provides sweeping panoramas across Drakes Bay. Sky Camp has 11 individual sites and 1 group site.
Coast Camp - Campground Information
- Coast Camp is located in a small coastal valley, 1.8 miles south of the Laguna Trailhead via the Laguna and Firelane Trails. It's also accessible from the Coast Trailhead for a longer but easier 2.7 mile route that's 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.
Directions to Trailhead
From US 101 in Marin County, exit San Anselmo/Sir Francis Drake. Drive west on Sir Francis Drake about 20 miles to the junction with CA 1. Turn right and drive about 0.1 mile, then turn left onto Bear Valley Road. Drive about 2 miles, then turn left onto Limantour Road. Drive about 3.3 miles to the signed trailhead on the left side of the road.
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