Sky Trail to Sculptured Beach, Point Reyes: Sky Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California

Sky Trail to Sculptured Beach - 10.7 miles

Point Reyes: Sky Trailhead

Sculptured Beach at low tide

Sculptured Beach at low tide

Round-Trip Length: 10.7 miles
Start-End Elevation: 680' - Sea Level (1,117' max elevation)
Elevation Change: -680 net elevation loss (+1,639' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Sky Trail to Sculptured Beach - 10.7 Miles Round-Trip

Sculptured Beach is located 5.35 miles from Sky Trailhead in Point Reyes National Seashore. While easily reached from Limantour Beach via the Coast Trail, visitors will enjoy this more challenging and ecologically diverse route over Inverness Ridge via the Sky and Woodward Trails.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Sculptured Beach is considered one of Point Reyes' best places to explore the Intertidal Zone, a coastal area exposed to air at low tide and submerged at high tide.

Sub-regions and micro-habitats within support specially adapted marine organisms such as anemones, barnacles, sea stars, urchins, mussels, snails, sea cucumbers, sponges and kelp.

While Sculptured Beach is relatively small, favorable tides make it possible to explore a number of coves, tunnels, arches and stacks leading to Secret Beach:

The 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').

The Woodward Trail drops steeply down west-facing slopes more evidently affected by the 1995 Vision Fire. Despite extensive damage the fire was somewhat fickle, leaving many trees untouched.

The understory, now facing limited competition from a dismantled canopy, is rife with grasses, wildflowers, and saplings. Look for wildlife - including re-introduced Tule Elk - in these replenished clearings.

Woodward Trail gradually transitions from the burn area to less-affected coastal chaparral and scrub (4.1 miles : 510'). It winds steeply down open hillsides to the Coast Trail junction (4.65 miles : 155'). Turn left (south) on the Coast Trail.

The Coast Trail runs level to the Sculptured Beach access trail (5.15 miles : 160'); anticipate this split, as the sign is set just a bit off trail and easy to miss. The short spur drops steeply through tangled vegetation to Sculptured Beach (5.35 miles).

A protruding, scalable rock formation at the south end of Sculptured Beach is riddled with tide pools and frames a turbulent cove. Drop into the cove to explore a secluded beach and trio of sea tunnels. At low tide you can continue south around another outcrop to Secret Beach.

Secret Beach is one of the Park's least accessible beaches, known for grottos, tunnels, and sea stacks. Do not attempt Secret Beach without full understanding of the tide tables, as it's quite possible to become stranded or endangered by heavy surf. Consult a Ranger for specific travel details and tide table information.

Facebook Comments

Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • 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 (turn right)
  • N38 00.880 W122 50.455 — 4.1 miles : Begin steep descent to coast
  • N38 00.838 W122 50.884 — 4.65 miles : Coastal Trail junction (turn left)
  • N38 00.626 W122 50.461 — 5.15 miles : Sculptured Beach access spur
  • N38 00.602 W122 50.652 — 5.35 miles : Sculptured Beach

Worth Noting

  • Sculptured Beach is considered one of the best in Point Reyes for tide-pooling. Be mindful of wave patterns and rising tides when exploring tide pools and outcrops. Never let children out of sight.

  • In October 1995, an illegal campfire on Mount Vision spread across 13,000 acres of the Seashore. This came to be known as the Vision Fire. Despite extensive damage the land is recovering, and in some cases benefited from replenished soils and cleared canopies which encourage the next generation of growth.

  • Three shorter, less rigorous routes access Sculptured Beach. The easiest travels approximately 3 miles south along Limantour Beach (low tide only). The second runs parallel to but above Limantour Beach on the Coastal Trail. The third begins at Laguna Ranch and travels 3.9 miles north on the Coastal Trail.

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.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Point Reyes National Seashore.

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.

Contact Information

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

Fax: 415.663.8132

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



Comments

"Begin time-0930hrs. End time-1730hrs. Travel distance: 18-19 miles. Starting at Bear Valley Trail-head we walked out to the Coast Camp and back. (It is almost cliche to say "it's a beautiful day!" when at Point Reyes. ) The trail was somewhat crowded down to the Arch Rock Trail intersection. As we were heading north along the Coast Trail we encountered five other hiking groups headed south, most notably a group of scouts preparing for a backpack trip up in Trinity County. (One of the kids had his ear buds in....really!?) On the way to Coast Camp we noticed that most of the trail was in good shape. A section of the trail just north of Kelham Beach needs a little work. Between run-off and horses it is essentially a gulley. Lots of birds, bunnies, lizards, and loads of morning glory among other flowering plants. Had lunch on the beach below Coast Camp and headed back. Weather on the way back to the Trail-head was not quite as nice as on the way out to the beach. Ocean color turned to gray. Encountered a lost hiker coming up to the Coast Trail from Sculpted Beach. A park ranger was on the case and took care of her. Took a nice long break at the bathrooms before finishing off the last couple of miles. It was fantastic even though we were beat!! We love it here! We will be back! I would say that trail conditions are pretty good, just walk knock-kneed down the horse ruts."
T Johnson from Sonoma County  -  Sonoma County  -  Date Posted: June 19, 2014

 

Add Comment

Only used to identify you to ProTrails. Will not show on comments list.
Tell us when your experience with this trail happened.