Woodpecker Trail, Point Reyes: Bear Valley Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California

Woodpecker Trail - 0.75 miles

Point Reyes: Bear Valley Trailhead

The Woodpecker Trail leads through diverse ecosystems

The Woodpecker Trail leads through diverse ecosystems

Round-Trip Length: 0.75 miles
Start-End Elevation: 125' - 125' (287' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +162' net elevation gain (+192' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Woodpecker Trail - 0.75 Miles Round-Trip

The Woodpecker Trail is a short nature loop through open pasture and Douglas fir forests adjacent to the Bear Valley Visitor Center of Point Reyes National Seashore. Mild grades and interpretive signs make this an ideal choice for families and newcomers to the Park.

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Visitors will enjoy insight to this widespread forest community, and a chance to see deer, fox, coyote, woodpeckers and raptors. The trail begins just inside the Bear Valley Trailhead gate and leads west. The following description travels clockwise on the loop:

The Woodpecker Trail rises through a rolling meadow into a thick forest, where it narrows by a small creek. It gradually bends north through an archetypal Doug-fir and mixed evergreen forest to its highpoint (.35 miles : 287'), skirting the edge of open pasture to the Morgan Trail (.55 miles : 170'). Follows signs right back toward the Bear Valley Trailhead to complete the loop (.75 miles).

Extend your hike by branching off on the Morgan Trail, which continues .4 miles to Kule Loklo - a reconstructed Coast Miwok village - and 1.8 miles to Olema Marsh.

Forest Highlights:

The California Buckeye is a deciduous member of this predominantly evergreen forest. The buckeye produces bunches of white to pale pink flowers May through June, but may lose its leaves as early as mid summer. Although its flowers are toxic to bees and generally inedible, early inhabitants used the buckeye's unripe seeds to stupefy fish. Leaves were made into medicinal teas, and the wood was ideal for making a fire drill.

California Bay - also known as the California Laurel - is in the same plant family as avocados, and cinnamon. Sparse leaves sprout haphazardly off its branches and the trunk, always competing for light, often bends to one side. Because they prefer moist soil, California bay is only found on trails on the east side of Inverness Ridge.

The Coast Live Oak is named for its perennial leaves, in contrast to seasonal deciduous oak, which drop seasonally. Coast Live Oak leaves are dark green on top and white and hairy underneath. No other oak in California has leaves that curve backwards at its tip. Like all oaks, coast live oak drop acorns in the fall. Coast Miwok boiled acorns and pounded them into meal. Scrub jays and California ground squirrels help the acorns out by burying them in winter caches, essentially planting the acorns in the ground.

Douglas fir may stand over 200' tall and live for hundreds of years. They're comparably sized to Redwoods, but distinguished by their many lower limbs and draping mosses. The Douglas is not a true fir, but tends to resemble one (its scientific name translates to false hemlock). The Douglas fir pine cone holds 20 to 50 seeds, which will expand and float to the ground in early fall.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 02.371 W122 47.994 — 0.0 miles : Bear Valley Trailhead - Woodpecker Trail
  • N38 02.315 W122 48.164 — .45 miles : Exit thick forest in on edge of pasture
  • N38 02.377 W122 48.171 — .55 miles : Morgan Trail junction - near right
  • N38 02.371 W122 47.994 — .75 miles : Complete loop at the Bear Valley Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • Douglas fir forest communities cover over 30,000 acres of Point Reyes National Seashore.

  • Be mindful of poison oak, especially beside the creek.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Camping is by permit only, in designated areas only. Permits must be obtained from the Bear Valley Visitor Center before starting your trip. If you have made a reservation and are arriving 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 the Park fax form and fax number: 415.464.5149.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs and Horses are not permitted on the Woodpecker Trail.

Directions to Trailhead

The Bear Valley Trailhead is located at the southwest end of the Bear Valley Visitor Center. The Woodpecker Trail begins on the west (right) side of the main trailhead.

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

Education Programs: 415.464.5139

Special Use Permits: 415.464.5111

Trip Reports

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