Looking for a great trail in Phillip Burton Wilderness Area, California? AllTrails has 12 great hiking trails, trail running trails, views trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 7 moderate trails in Phillip Burton Wilderness Area ranging from 5.3 to 16.6 miles and from 95 to 1,407 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!



bird watching

nature trips


no dogs


wild flowers


trail running




I did this loop with 4 friends. The parts we liked the most are Alamere Falls and sculpture Beach. Of course, we almost love the forests.

no shade
over grown
25 days ago

Definitely recommend doing this the opposite way, with the large climb at the beginning it makes for a really enjoyable day. This hike has a little of everything. It’s not technical at all really, just long, but the views, the terrain, are all world class. The trail is getting overgrown at points so wear long pants and long sleeves, and once you get to the coast there can be a lot of sun and no shade. AMAZING TRAIL!

Park of the coastal trail were very overgrown. Wear long pants to avoid poison oak. Especially if you go Sculpture Beach. That was VERY over grown. And soggy at the end. But the beach was worth the .5 mile detour.

Note: the Crystal Lake trail has apparently been closed for some time so I was not able to take it and it required a detour on the coastal trail that probably added another mile or so. All in my Strava registered 22 miles on the dot and slightly less elevation gain than is noted here but I also skipped the second detour (after the falls). I hiked this counterclockwise as suggested by AllTrails. The trail to Glen Camp and Wildcat campground were in great shape, not muddy, very clear and had plenty of shade (although Day was overcast anyway). Only thing is that this version of the trail to wildcat meanders a lot so I had to keep taking phone out to check the direction I needed to take. Saw very few people here other than some backpackers that stayed at the campgrounds overnight. Just before Wildcat you start picking up the Coast Trails and they are quite a bit more exposed. Wasn’t an issue today but on a hot sunny day will be baking. Wildcat has additional water if you start to run low at this point (I brought 3.5L and was fine). Trail mostly in good condition though a bit overgrown / has high grass in a few places. Starts to get a lot busier when I meets up with the coastal trail again closer to the falls. Don’t miss the random little spur to Alamere - it’s makes by a big arrow made of rocks on the trail. The last part was by far the hardest. Most people are walking back from the falls to the parking lot at the end of the coastal trail - very few go up back to the ridge at this point. I look the Lake Ranch Trail (Or something like that) which was pretty overgrown. It was a nice trail but had several trees downed which required diverting through bushes and the grass was up to my waist in many places. Ran into absolutely no one here at all. All in all a good trail with a big mix of scenery and solid elevation profile but would probably double back from the falls and take one of the other trails back up rather than the one I took.

Meadow trail was very gradual and forgiving for an early climb in the trail. Sky trail was very relaxed and had great views of meadows and redwoods. Baldy Trail was overgrown with stinging nettle and poison oak. Don’t wear shorts on if you intend to go that route.

Beautiful scenery, and a great hike. I started on the Bear valley trail, then branched onto the Mt. Wittenberg trail, to Z ranch trail, then the Horse trail onto the Sky camp trail, to Woodward valley trail to the Coast trail, and then finished back on the Bear valley trail for a 16 mile loop. I saw Deer, a jack rabbit, snakes, lizards, butterflies, dragonflies, many birds and flowers and a lot of beautiful trees. Walking along the coast and having ocean views was amazing. Sculpture beach is a really cool place for lunch! All in all it’s a great hike.

Nicely varied trail, starting and ending in woodland and a long middle section along the coast. This is one of the longer loops from the visitor center without needing to backtrack, so it's a nice full day. The meadow and valley trails are great for wildlife, try to hit them early or late in the day for best viewing chances. The section on Bear Valley trail is busy and kind of boring, consider an alternative for that part.

Knocked this one out in a day. Scenery was beautiful - the trail was well-marked and well maintained.

Took the reverse here. Started early (8am) on A Sunday from Bear Valley. We did not see any people at all until about 9:30, but which time we were nearly to the Sky Trail. Divide Meadow was gorgeous in the light of the rising sun, so quiet, full of birdsong. The hike up Old Pine was magical--felt like it was our own private forest. We couldn't get over the sunlight on the new greenery (see photos). It was a gradual enough climb--very comfortable. There were some very wet and muddy spots in the trail so we were grateful for our waterproof hiking boots. Sky Trail had some beautiful views of Limantour Spit in a light fog. We hiked up to the peak of Mt Wittenberg, but as others have said, you can't really see much from up there. But good views elsewhere. Saw chipmunk, red-tail hawk, black-tailed deer, a small lavender blue butterfly, possibly a Sierra Nevada blue. Wildflowers were just starting--lots of iris, poppy, lupines, monkey flower. Mt Wittenberg trail was all downhill, mostly very well maintained, but a little muddy, and a little but of a knee-strain toward the bottom. My iPhone app said it was about a 7 mile hike. It was just such a joy to see all the water and the green everywhere after so much drought.

3 months ago

Just completed this one with a couple friends 3-21 - 3-23. We had a lot of fun. We didn't do the exact trail on here but still ended up clocking about 28.5 miles over 3 days. Wildcat is an awesome campground. Stayed at site 5 and it was pretty solid. Good privacy and space for a few tents. Make sure you get a fire permit at the visitor center so you can get a fire going on the beach, just be aware of the tides. We also day hiked to Alamere Falls (5 miles trip) and it was awesome. The falls are raging right now. Next day we packed up and headed out to Coast camp. We stayed at site 12 and it seemed pretty cool. It ended up raining basically the entire day so spent most of the day in tents. Seemed like a cool campground but didn't get to enjoy it much. The hiking was good. It's a pretty steady hike and not that hard. I'd say a great trip for a beginner backpacker. There's some elevation but nothing that hard to handle. A lot of mud on the trails right now and be aware of poison oak. Overall, super enjoyable. I'd love to do this again with better weather and take advantage of the fires on the beach, that's an awesome perk in this area.

Amazing trail, if you want to see a little bit of everything. As described Alamere Falls is the only busy part. I did this as a day hike, counter-clockwise so as to end going downhill. Lots of downed trees on the southern part of trail.

over grown
washed out
4 months ago

Fun, long and and great way to get to the falls.

All of the camps have potable water and are well spaced. I carried a water filter but did not need to use it. Lake Ranch Trail is very overgrown but easily passable. No issues with ticks despite the high grass. Other trails are all very well maintained and appear to have been cut back recently. This was a really enjoyable walk, lots of variety and overall not too difficult. Primarily shaded just the short beachfront section has little. I went anti-clockwise to try and get down the water with reasonably early morning light. Additionally it’s always nice not to be stuck with a heavy uphill right at the end. I’d swap the short jaunt to the lake for a walk down to Alamere Falls. It’s worth a quick look but expect it to be busy.

I did the reverse of this loop as someone suggested, and it was great. A few miles up to Sky Camp with a good climb. Spent one night at campsite 6 which I would recommend as it is one with shade (several didn’t have any). Then down to Coast Trail and up and back on Bear Valley Trail for 12 miles on day 2. Lots of wildlife. Varied terrain. Some dampness with the coastal fog to the point of seeming like rain in the denser parts of the trail. The campsite has water and bathrooms so this trip was a good shakedown of recently acquired gear. No cell coverage from the trailhead.

Did the reverse to have a gradual climb. Very easy and wide start to this and very pretty. Took the Old Pine Trial...VERY overgrown and no one else on path. We didn't get any ticks but can see how easy it would be on this trail. Do your checks. Some poison oak as well. We came out unscathed but is dampens your mood on the hike a little bit. It gets better at the Sky Trail junction all the way back. I can see that doing the climb first might kick the average shape person's ass a little bit. Overall a good trail and great scenery. No horses on Holidays and weekends make it easier for the hiker.

Old pine is pretty overgrown. The Mt. Wittenberg trail was really nice, I also really enjoyed the Sky trail. Fog burned off around 9am. Check for ticks!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Great opportunity for a long day hike or broken up into a two-day backpacking trip. Horses, coyotes, California condors, tons of little furry friends, and the possibility of seeing Tule elk and whales off the coast!

Nice hike, exposed more than I like. Pretty easy, only challenging part for me was climbing the rocky hill towards the end.

Everything promised! If I were to go again, I would bring more water resistant gear, not because of rain but because of high wet brush.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Beautiful way to see the full coast line, hills, and lakes of the area.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

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.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Bear Valley Trail is a flat wheelchair-safe route down close to the beach. It's a local favorite that is about 8 miles roundtrip. People walk it, run it, or bike it to within 1/2 mile of the beach. It's shaded and beautiful with the cool Pt. Reyes weather regardless of what the weather is elsewhere. At the end of the hike, there is arch rock, where, depending on the tide, you can scramble down to the beach and watch the water splash around the large natural arch. If you can't get to the beach here, you can go north 1/2 mile on the coastal trail to Kellham Beach. There is a sign and a trail with stairs helping you down. This will increase your mileage to 9 miles for the day, but it's a nice beach with not too many people. The views at the end and the ease of the hike get it a 3 stars. It would get more, but the many users and lack of views on the way bring it down. Many out for a stroll just stop at the Divide Meadow at 1.6 miles, sit on the tables, enjoy the sun and ocean breeze and return. If you can handle more mileage, I always recommend doing the Skyline Trail down and the Bear Valley Back. It's more mileage, but the near-rainforest like conditions on the hills and the expansive views as you drop down to the beach make it worthwhile. See my review for the Meadow-Woodward Trail.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Nice little day hike from trail head to Arch Rock. Trail branches off to Wildcat Camp, permit needed to stay. Ideal for botany enthusiasts.

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