Coast Camp to Sky Camp Loop, Point Reyes
12.1 MILES / 2,497 FT ELEVATION
2 days/1 night in a backcountry campsite
Point Reyes National Seashore boasts some absolutely gorgeous backcountry campgrounds, and one of our favorites is Coast Camp nestled behind a grassy hill just off of Limantour Beach. This is also a great intro-to-backpacking backcountry site, with the camp only being 2 miles from the trailhead on a relatively flat trail. Pack in, set up your camp, and enjoy the surrounding area including a scenic 8 mile loop hike to Sky Camp, sunsets and bonfires on the beach, and plenty of wildlife including deer, seals and sea birds. You can also do this trek as a 12 mile day hike instead of camping overnight.
Point Reyes National Seashore is located north of San Francisco on the coast of Marin County, California. The area was designated in 1962 to protect it from development. Point Reyes is made up of a distinct peninsula created due to its location on the San Andreas fault. On this peninsula you can find a large number of hiking trails, rivers, beaches, waterfalls and 4 hike-in backcountry campgrounds.
Coast Camp is a popular campground within Point Reyes due to it being right off the beach and relatively easily accessed. This is a great backpacking trip for beginners as the hike in is only 2 miles on Laguna Trail/Firelane Trail or 3 miles on the Coast Trail (which has more views of the ocean). The longer Coast Trail approach has a wide dirt road which accommodates pulling in a wagon of supplies if needed, so this is also a great place to camp for people who want to pull in their gear instead of carry it. Coast Camp has 14 campsites which book up early. For more information on booking, see the Preparation & Pro Tips area below.
The route that we took to the camp was the shorter 2 mile Laguna Trail/Firelane Trail. This trail crosses over a small hill with a spring at the top before descending into the campground.
WARNING: Laguna Trail/Firelane Trail is prone to flooding if there has been significant rain. You can check on trail conditions here.
Once you get to camp, set up your gear and leave your backpacking pack at the site. We haven't had any problems with thefts at this campground, but always take valuables with you. After you are done setting up and having a snack, double back on Laguna Trail/Firelane Trail where you started from. About halfway up this trail, take the split to the right to begin your climb up the mountain on Firelane Trail. After 2.2 miles hiking up about 900 feet you will reach Sky Trail. Take Sky Trail to the right as it winds arounds the ridge line for 2 miles providing great coastal views on the way.
Once you hit the Woodward Valley Trail, take this trail to the right to loop back down to Coast Camp.
Coast Camp is the perfect place to watch the sunset. In addition, you are allowed to have fires on the beach as long as they are below the high-tide line. You can either carry in wood, or use driftwood collected from the beach. Do not collect wood from the forest. Plan an early meal at the campsite and head to the beach to build your fire and catch the last rays of the sun. Or, we have even opted to cook on the beach before, although be careful to not get sand in the food!
The next morning, enjoy a walk on the beach to see a lot of wildlife including seagulls, pelicans, seals in the water, and maybe even some deer on the beach.
Maps & GPX
With the GPX route downloaded on your phone, you can follow your location against the trail, even in airplane mode or when you have no service. To learn more about GPX files and how to use them, see the GPX 101 page.
You can download the GPX file using the following link --> GPX FILE DOWNLOAD
Preparation & Pro Tips
- Book your campsite - Point Reyes campgrounds book up quickly. Campsites are available to book a rolling 6 months in advance, and many times the campsite will be completely booked up by the first morning it is available for booking. You can book your campsite here.
- First-come first-serve camping - If you are planning something on a weekend where there are no campsites available to reserve, you have a good chance of being able to grab an open campsite if you show up at the Bear Valley Visitor Center when it opens at 9AM (on the weekend). We have tried to get a campsite this way 3 times so far and have been successful each time.
- Fire permits - If you plan to have a fire at Coast Camp, make sure to get a fire permit from the ranger when they issue your camping permit at the visitor center.
- Fire wood - If you plan to have a fire, it may make sense to bring firewood to the beach. You can also scavenge from driftwood, but usually this is snatched up rather quickly so if you want a fire that lasts more than a few minutes, play it safe and bring your own wood.
- Parking - When you park at the trailhead, pull into the far parking lot right next to the trail, do not park on the road. If you see a ranger when pulling into this area, they will direct you to the parking lot.
- Plan and pack your gear - See our Gear Checklist section for a comprehensive gear checklist and some tips and favorite items of ours.
The trailhead begins just past the Point Reyes Hostel off Limantour Road. Click on the directions icon to pull up custom directions in Google Maps.