Sky Trail and Bear Valley Loop is a 10.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Point Reyes Station, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.
A very rewarding loop option that starts from Bear valley Visitor center. Experience breathtaking vistas along the way. Take the Sky Trail to Bear Valley Trail for this loop.
I hiked this loop on 9/26/201, starting on the Bear Valley Trail and all the way to the coast (4.5 miles). I did not say Bear Valley to Arch Rock because the spur trail to Arch Rock was closed "indefinitely" due to the rock slide that killed a hiker in May of 2015. The Bear Valley trail is mostly shaded and the first 3 miles are in fact a wide forest road.
I then followed the Coast Trail North, stopping first at Kelham Beach (snack) and then at Sculpture Beach (Lunch). Both beaches were deserted when I go to them. After a while (20/30mn) a few people got there too...but nothing resembling a crowd. Kelham is much bigger than Sculpture and therefore can accommodate more parties w/o feeling like Ocean Beach or Stinson Beach. The Coast Trail section is mostly exposed (think cap, sunscreen and sun glasses....).
After about 3 miles on the Coast Trail, I took the Woodard Valley Trail which goes up and up and up (affording sweeping views of the point Reyes seashore) until it reaches the Sky Trail. That section is fully exposed for the first half and then enters a forested area that offers refreshing shade on a hot day.
The trail is often quite narrow (which thick vegetation on both sides) and there was a bit of traffic, including horseback riders. The rest of the trail, all the way back to the parking lot offers good shade.
There are several options to drop down from the Sky Trail back to the Bear Valley trail on the way back: Baldy, Old Pine, Meadow, Mt Whitttenberg... I decided to go as far North East at possible, which meant continuing on Z-Ranch trail and coming back down on the Horse Trail. I finally returned back to the parking lot via the Morgan (Ranch) Trail that borders the horse facility (Morgan Ranch). All said, just a bit over 16 miles.
A lot of walking for a day, but the Coast Trail portion, the beaches and the views climbing up the Woodard Valley trail are really worth the effort.