Kelham Beach, Point Reyes: Bear Valley Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California

Kelham Beach - 10.4 miles

Point Reyes: Bear Valley Trailhead

Overlooking Kelham Beach from the Coast Trail

Overlooking Kelham Beach from the Coast Trail

Round-Trip Length: 10.4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 125' - 0' (378' max elevation)
Elevation Change: -110' net elevation loss (+796' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Kelham Beach - 10.4 Miles Round-Trip

Kelham Beach is located between Arch Rock (south) and Point Resistance (north), accessible by connecting the Bear Valley Trail with the Coast Trail. This 1.4 mile strand is highlighted by waterfalls, colorful cliffs, and several large alcoves and tunnels.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

While the Bear Valley Trail is among Point Reyes' most popular, few venture further up the Coast Trail to this secluded beach. Visitors will enjoy a mild trek through verdant forests, and a memorable stretch along the open coast to Kelham Beach:

The Bear Valley Trail rises gently into a thick forest. It moves easily past connections for the Mt Wittenberg Trail (.2 miles) and Meadow Trail (.8 miles) to a break in the forest at Divide Meadow (1.65 miles : 365'). This is the Bear Valley Trail's highest point, and a good place to look for wildlife.

The trail tilts downhill from Divide Meadow beside Coast Creek and glides gently back into a lush mix of fir, oak, laurel and buckeye (1.8 miles).

The maintained path ends at the Glen Trail - Baldy Trail junction (3.2 miles : 168'), past which it narrows and bikes are no longer permitted.

At 3.9 miles the landscape abruptly transitions to coastal chaparral and scrub - a zone characterized by diminutive, hardy brush adapted to the coast's saline, intemperate environment.

The trail bends away from Coast Creek down a tapering headland to the Coast Trail junction (4.1 miles : 105'). Veer right on the Coast Trail towards Sky Trail and Coast Camp.

Coast Trail heads north on a mild grade with views across Drakes Bay and back south of Arch Rock and Millers Point. Look for deer, coyote, fox, quail and rabbit in the dense coastal scrub.

Coast Trail passes the Sky Trail split (4.6 miles : 145') and continues north with emerging views of Point Resistance, a divisive headland between Kelham Beach (south), and Secret Beach (north). The trail gradually curls inland around a coastal drainage to a massive eucalyptus tree at the Kelham Beach Trail split (5.1 miles : 115').

Note the sign itself is located several paces off trail (left), and possible to miss if distracted. The Kelham Beach Trail drops steeply on 145 newly constructed stairs to Kelham Beach (5.2 miles : 0').

A 20' cascade drops just beside the beach entry point, a useful landmark should fog envelop the beach. Morning travelers will enjoy good light by heading north along steep cliffs with deep alcoves and tunnels at their base.

At low tide you can negotiate an outcrop to a second and even more secluded beach. North of this, a trio of tunnels lead to a small, turbulent cove framed by Point Resistance (5.5 miles).

While undeniably exciting, travel north to this point can be perilous. Tides are notoriously high, and the surf is typically strong. Tunnels and alcoves along the cliffs demonstrate the ocean's reach.

Advance knowledge of tides and extreme caution is a must. If tides don't cooperate, consider an easy one mile walk south to Arch Rock. At low tide you can pass through the arch and pick up the Bear Valley Trail at Arch Rock Overlook to form an enjoyable lollipop loop.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 02.375 W122 47.986 — 0.0 miles : Bear Valley Trailhead
  • N38 02.191 W122 48.011 — .2 miles : Mt Wittenberg Trail junction
  • N38 01.733 W122 48.168 — .8 miles : Meadow Trail junction
  • N38 01.170 W122 48.061 — 1.65 miles : Divide Meadow Trail junction
  • N37 59.962 W122 47.931 — 3.2 miles : Glen Trail - Baldy Trail junction
  • N37 59.440 W122 48.631 — 4.1 miles : Coast Trail junction - veer right
  • N37 59.637 W122 48.987 — 4.6 miles : Sky Trail junction
  • N37 59.842 W122 49.210 — 5.1 miles : Kelham Beach Trail junction
  • N37 59.811 W122 49.281 — 5.2 miles : Kelham Beach

Worth Noting

  • Be mindful of heavy surf and high tides on the north end of Kelham Beach. Do not attempt exploration of the alcoves or tunnels without full knowledge of the tides.

  • If tides permit, continue south down Kelham Beach for approximately 1 mile to Arch Rock. Pass through the tunnel and climb up the ravine to rejoin the Bear Valley Trail at Arch Rock Overlook.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Camping is by permit only. Permits must be obtained from the Bear Valley Visitor Center before starting your trip. If you've made a reservation and arrive after 5 pm, 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 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 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.

  • 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

  • Bikes are permitted on the Bear Valley Trail from the Bear Valley Visitor Center south to the Glen and Baldy Trail junctions. Bikes are not permitted beyond this point. To reach Arch Rock and Kelham Beach, you must leave your bike at the bike rack and continue on foot.

  • Horses are not permitted on the Bear Valley Trail between the Wittenberg and Baldy Trail junctions on holidays and weekends.

  • Wood Fires: Permits are now required for any wood fire within the National Seashore. Permits are available at visitor centers, the dispatch office, and from field rangers. Permits may only be obtained on the day you plan on having a fire. The permit is free. Permits are not available or valid during high, very high or extreme fire danger. For current fire information, call 415.464.5100 x2 x1.

  • Wood Fire Locations: Wood fires are allowed only on beaches (below the high tide line, if possible), 9 meters (30 feet) or more from vegetation and other flammable material - nowhere else.

  • Wood Fire Fuel: Reasonable amounts of driftwood may be gathered from beaches. Driftwood should be dry and clean (i.e., no wood coated with creosote or other chemicals, no wood embedded with nails or other metal objects), and shouldn't be much larger or longer than your arm.

  • Fire Size and Dousing: The fire may not be more than 0.9 meters (36 inches) in diameter.Before leaving your beach fire, put it out completely with water. Douse the fire with water, stir the coals, douse with water again. Repeat until the coals do not emit any heat. Do not cover the coals with sand, as it will only insulate the heat and be an unseen danger to wildlife and barefoot visitors.

  • Fires must be extinguished by 12 midnight.

Directions to Trailhead

The Bear Valley Trailhead is located at the southwest end of the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

From Highway 1, take Bear Valley Road west about 1/2 mile. Look for a big red barn on the left and a sign for Seashore information on the right. Turn left past the red barn and follow signs to the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Continue through the main parking lot to the far end and Bear Valley Trailhead parking area.

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

Trip Reports

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