Hiking Project Logo

Estero to Sunset Beach

  4.4 ( 7 ) Favorite


8.1 mile 13.0 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 623' 190 m
Descent: -623' -190 m
High: 160' 49 m
Low: 13' 4 m


Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 9% (5°)


No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Megan W

This is an isolated out-and-back exploration of several wonderful Pt. Reyes estuaries.

Megan W

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly This hike can easily be shortened as it is an out-and-back. Kids will love looking for birds and getting their feet muddy!


To avoid the crowds than can plague more popular Point Reyes trailheads, opt for this peaceful excursion past estuaries to a secluded beach.


Head south from the Estero parking area through grasslands before ducking into a dense stand of Monterrey pines. This used to be a cultivated Christmas tree farm. From here, a footbridge crosses Home Bay where mud or shallow baywater will be present depending on the tides. If you're lucky you may spot bat rays and leopard sharks swimming just below the water's surface. Climb up to the first of several hilltops on this undulating trail.

Trek downhill to another pond and then up to a knoll with a lone eucalyptus tree. One more climb brings you to the junction with the worthwhile Sunset Beach trail. Take the Sunset Beach trail south through grassland and scrub on a wide, easy trail. The gentle downhill passes a pond, skirts a hillside, and offers views Bull Point to the northeast across Drakes Estero.

On park maps, the Sunset Beach Trail ends at the pond, but if conditions are not too muddy continue on the fading trail to the small rocky beach across from Limantour spit. Find the strangely shaped sandstone boulders on this beach. If the weather is clear you can see Chimney Rock in the distance across the water. Retrace your steps to cpmplete this out-and-back.

Avoid going off trail as poison oak is prevalent in this area. Also, good boots make the muddy areas more passable, although sometimes it is better to simply turn back if rains or cattle have made a mess of the trail- don't damage it further. Note: bikes are allowed on the Estero and Sunset Beach Trails.

Flora & Fauna

Coyote brush, toyon, ceanothus, sagebrush, California buttercup, lupine, goldenrod, Douglas iris, daffodil, wild rose, seabirds, egret, quail, rabbit, deer.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

ADA Accessible, Need to Know, History & Background


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


Dec 8, 2018
Maureen Haverty
Sep 4, 2018
Jodi K
Jun 24, 2018
h p
A mellow 8 mile hike with a wide trail until the beach. Pretty hike with a nice lunch log at the beach! 8.2mi — 3h 26m
May 20, 2018
Kristen Lee
Fantastic! 7mi
Jul 31, 2017
Blair Tirpak
Jul 29, 2017
Blair Tirpak
Sep 4, 2016
Chris Tateyama
Aug 13, 2016
Shane Gall
To drakes head 9mi — 2h 24m

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 7 votes


  4.4 from 7 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Hike Rankings


in California


67 Views Last Month
3,006 Since Feb 25, 2015



View of the first estuary
Mar 10, 2015 near Inverness, CA
Approx 1.5 miles on Estero to Sunset Beach Trail
Jun 27, 2018 near Inverness, CA
Approx 2 miles into the hike on Estero to Sunset Beach Trail
Jun 27, 2018 near Inverness, CA
Point Reyes, Estero Trail bridge
Feb 22, 2015 near Inverness, CA
Sunset Beach
Mar 10, 2015 near Inverness, CA
Point Reyes - Estero Trail
Mar 24, 2015 near Inverness, CA


Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking