Coast Camp is one of 4 backcountry campsites in the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California. Like the 3 others, access is limited to hikers, bikers and horse riders, so whatever your method, you will have to haul in your own stuff, but it will be worth it because the hiking is awesome and the coast has a lot to explore.
Coast Camp is the most easily accessed by bike, a 2.7 mile ride along the wide and for the most part flat Coast trail. To access the site by bike, you will first need to visit the Bear Valley Visitor center to pick up your camping permit. The fee per night is $15, which allows up to 6 people to camp at a single site. While you are at the center, you can get a free beach burn pass that will allow you to have a small fire on the beach that specific night.
When you get your permit, you will be instructed to head toward the Point Reyes Hostel and park across the street. The Hostel is on Limantour Spit Road and costs $22 per night. It looked like a really great hostel. The Coast Trail entrance is right across the street, near where you park and behind a metal gate. Be very careful when parking across the street. Park a little before the entrance to the hostel on the gravel. Tall grass further down can be deceiving and is very slick. Also there is no cell phone coverage in the area. Luckily, if you get stuck, there is a payphone in the hostel and a local tow truck company can be there within the hour.
Coast Camp has 14 sites that you can reserve over the phone and a reservation is recommended during the summer, especially if you want a specific site. I lucked out and got a site for 3 days calling only 10 days in advance, but it was on a weekday .I feel if you wanted to go for just 1 or 2 days you might be able to during the middle of the week without much notice, but weekends are booked solid. All sites have a little grill, you might want to bring something to clean it off, a bench and food storage containers. The containers are about 3’x3’x2’, and although they might seem impenetrable, they will be invaded by nibbling rodents at night. There are also trashcans at the sites, so you don’t need to haul everything out. The water looked iffy, so bring something to purify it or haul in your own on your bike trailer like I did.
There are basically three types of sites. Sites 1-7 are in a protected gulch where you will separated from other sites and have some privacy. Several have a nice view of the ocean. The ground here is hard though, and the bathrooms, which are two vault toilets that do have toilet paper, are further away than the other campsites. I would say this is the best place to stay. Sites 10-14 are a little more in the open, but are located in a grass field so there is a little padding under the tent, and they are closer to the bathrooms. Stay away from 8-9, far away. They are group sites and I do not know how many people are supposed to be there, but around 40 young teens from a Synagogue camp occupied the two while I was there, and I was so happy to have my earplugs with me.
400 feet away from the center of Coast Camp is the beach. There are tide pools, gorgeous cliffs and rock arches not too far away. We saw a small seal on the beach and I know that sounds cute, but I think it was dying.
Lastly the hiking trails around Coast Camp are amazing. You can go for a short hike down Coast Trail, or head up for the monster that is Sky Trail. Sky Trail is very difficult, but the views are amazing and the majority of the trail is shaded. I would definitely recommend hiking that trail.
Coast Camp is a great backcountry spot with amazing hiking and a great coast to explore. If you don’t have all the small backpacking specific gear, but still want to check it out, try riding in on a bike and pulling a bike trailer or just strapping some bags on your bike. You can make the stay a little more comfortable, and maybe bring that extra thing you probably won’t use, but you would have wished you had it if you hadn’t brought it.
Thanks, this is great! I’m headed out there in a couple weeks but not before camping out at some other spots. Was wondering if I should do the whole thing on foot or on a bike, so I’m glad both are possibilities. Thanks again for the info and advice on here!
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