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Arch Rock and Sculptures Beach

Point Reyes National Seashore
Duration: 3/4th day
Distance: ~14miles 
Difficulty: Easy 
Start/End point: Bear Valley Visitor Center 
Trail: Bear Valley Trail -> Mt. Wittenburg Trail -> (Summit) -> Sky Trail ->Woodward Valley Trail ->Coast Trail (Take left on costal trail) ->Sculptured Beach -> Kelham beach -> Arch Rock ->Bear Valley Trail 

Picasa Web Album link: Here

A quick decision to go to Point Reyes on Sunday was made the previous day (Saturday) and wasn’t confirmed until late that night. Shrikant and I after taking a quick walk up Mission Peak to witness sunrise from the top which I hadn’t done earlier, came up with the plan to hike at Point Reyes. I had seen a meetup on “Norcal hikers” group with this exact trail but the meetup was completely full. I decided to just do it on our own. There was no way we would get onto the list.

We decided to get at least 8hrs of sleep and so had a late start. We started from south bay at 8:30am and reached Point Reyes Bear Valley Visitor Center at 11:00am, which also included a long stop to pack lunch and a slow drive through the city. We waited more than 15mins in line to speak to the staff at the visitor center and obtain a map of the park. Ironically we met Lohit, Willy and the others from meetup group and the meetup that I was talking about earlier. They had come for another hike (Huckleberry picking). Lets skip the details and go directly to the hike itself. We started the hike little after 11:30am. A very late start I’d say but it seems to be the right time to start a hike at the Point Reyes area. This allows the mist/fog to disappear to a small extent if not completely.

I was bored by the thought of walking along the massive highway type road (called Bear Valley Trail) but luckily the Mt. Wittenburg trail diversion was not far. The Mt. Wittenburg trail is a well-maintained trail that also has been blessed with an amazing natural canopy keeping the sharp piercing rays of the sun just enough to light up the trail. The climb up this trail wasn’t very steep but enough to enjoy the hike. 1.8 miles on this trail and we end up at the intersection of Sky trail, a trail to the summit (0.2miles) and another trail of which I do not remember the name. The trail to the summit was just perfect. It was the most dense tree growth in the area. It was almost dark in there and felt as if we were passing the dark forests of the medieval times amidst an atmosphere of magic and prophecies. Ok, that was too dramatic but you get the point. We reached the summit and quickly got back to the intersection.

Trudging along the Sky Trail towards Woodward Valley Trail, we were given the gift of the panoramic views of the ocean for the first time on this hike. There ware no 2nd thoughts to it; it was time for a couple of photographs. A small quick break and we were off again. Walk on the sky Trail was about 1.2 miles or so followed by 1 mile on Woodward Valley Trail. The Woodward Valley Trail is a really great trail. It opens up to the cliffs that run along the seashore providing some jaw dropping views. The cool breeze (cold when cloudy) starts to shimmer our faces welcoming us to the seashore. The Woodward Valley Trail hits the Coast trail that runs along the shore both ways (North and South). We turn left on the coast trail (Towards south) to reach the turn-off for Sculptures beach. Bear Valley Trail intersection from this point is 3.4miles. After about 0.4miles, we reach the spot where you can see a bar to tie off horses on your right. That’s the trailhead that leads you to the Sculptures beach. We reached the beach by 1 something in the afternoon. We had the beach to ourselves and it was pretty amazing. The rock formations there are truly magnificent. Perched atop a big boulder, we finished our lunch.

After lunch and spending quite some time there, we decided to get going. We walked along the coast trail to pass a big Eucalyptus tree, which is the point from where the Kelham beach is accessible. An hour of hiking and we reach an intersection of the Bear Valley Trail-Coast Trail and a trail that takes us to the arch rock area. We took the 0.3mile long trail to arch rock. Spent a good amount of time relaxing atop the cliff and then later when we decided to head back, we wanted to get down to the shore. What a decision
that was, without which we would have missed the arch. We got down to the beach, spent a while at the arch. The structure itself is just marvelous. Nature has its way of harnessing the great power it possesses to create artistic and architectural wonders all around the world. The arch was formed out of the rock that connected the protruding cliff to the inland mountain. Both this Arch formation and Alemere Falls are two of the many beautiful sights Point Reyes National Seashore has to offer.

We started our way back at 5:00pm. The return was a 4mile hike back to the Visitor Center. The return journey was uneventful other than for the fact that it was beautiful. It was a huge road that ran deep inside the forest along a creek with water flowing steadily almost all the way. We reached the Bear Valley visitor center just before 6:00pm and finished the wonderful day with ice cream at Ghirardelli in the city. I reached home at 9:30pm marking the end of a wonderful weekend.

Picasa Web Album Link: here

Info:

Best time to visit: Fall. Summer(Since the trails are pretty much covered by trees). Winter (For Super long hikes).
Best way to see: Backpacking. Visit Alemere Falls, Arch Rock, Sculptures beach, Point Reyes Light house along the coastline.
Campsites: Wildcat campground, Glen Camp, Sky camp 
Water: Carry about 3 liters of water in cool conditions, more in summer. Use your discretion.
Getting there: US101 -> CA1 -> Right onto Bear Valley Road -> Bear Valley Visitor Center.
Trailheads: Use Palomarin Trailhead for Alemere Falls, Bear Valley Trail head for Arch Rock.

Links:
Point Reyes National Seashore
Beary Valley Visitor Center
Trail Map