Point Reyes is a few miles north of San Francisco and offers a number of great hiking options. There are short hikes to the beach from several entrances, as well as longer backpacking options. There are many campsites near the beaches with water and facilities. The lighthouse on the point is also a major tourist attraction, as are the wildflowers in the spring.
We hiked this trail on a foggy Saturday afternoon. Although views were limited, the foggy atmosphere created its own beauty, too! With the recent rains, there were quite a few puddles and muddy spots in the trail, so waterproof shoes or a change of socks is definitely recommended!
We wanted a little more mileage, so we took the coast trail all the way to Wildcat Campground. We were sort-of checking along the way for the spur trail down the falls, just to gauge our progress... but we didn't see it on the way out. So, keep that in mind if you aren't planning the longer loop - the spur is not very well-marked. Followed the right fork/high road when we came to the trail marker for the loop to Wildcat. Checked out the campgrounds when we got there and encountered a biker who reminded us the tide was coming in if we planned to hike the beach to the falls (we did).
Quickly heading to the beach, we noticed the "Warning - Waves reach cliffs at high tide!" sign. Looking at the waves coming up just 20-30 feet from the cliffs, we knew we didn't have a ton of time and started jogging towards the first narrow point where we knew we could have issues keeping our feet dry. Once past that point, we began noticing all the small waterfalls down the cliffs and even some water bubbling out from cracks in the cliffs. Plenty of great photo ops along the way, and we took several despite being in a race against the tide.
About 1000 feet before you reach the falls, there is another narrow point, and by the time we got there, the heavier waves in each set were breaking onto the low rocks. We got up on the rocks, took off our shoes, waited for the set to end, and then sprinted around the corner to safety and walked the last few hundred feet to to falls barefoot.
The falls were roaring and the rolling fog created gorgeous views. While the temp was only about 60 degrees, the humidity made it feel much warmer and we peeled off layers for the return trip. After enjoying lunch, we put our shoes on and climbed the trail up the cliff to see the upper tiers of the falls. With the tide coming in, we got to see the waves crashing into the rocks beneath the falls from above - very cool vista. After getting all the photos we wanted, we began heading back to the main trail. It started sprinking, then raining in earnest, but with that high humidity it actually felt very refreshing and we let ourselves get wet for the last 3+ miles.
Overall, a really fun and scenic hike, not too strenuous despite being 11.4 miles. Trail is good solid dirt about 75% of the time, Rocky maybe 20%, and then the cliff climb up/down from the falls is a class 2-3 scramble - but not necessarily required for this hike. Total climb was about 1700 feet according to my Fenix3, but none of that is in huge segments more than maybe 150 feet at a time. Definitely recommend this hike to anyone!
Pretty nice trail, fairly mellow if you're at all used to California hiking. Trail was in good condition except for a few downed trees from a recent storm. Saw a ton of banana slugs and a few rough skinned newts. Took 2 hours out and back at a moderate pace; GPS and altimeter recorded 6.5 miles and 1545' elevation gain.
14 mile hike with only moderate incline/decline for a third of the trail. Starts off on a fire road along a stream surrounded by ferns, then follows along coastal cliffs with two opportunities to go down to the beach (one has a waterfall), then climbs 1000 ft or so giving great views of Bodega Bay before dropping back down to Bear Valley trail 0.8 miles from the end of the hike.