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Coast Camp: Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Campsite 12 at the Coast Camp site in Point Reyes
One of the more exposed campsites, number 12 of 14, in the Point Reyes National Seashore, Coast Camp.

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.

Trail entrance across from the park hostel
The trail is right behind a metal cattle fence across from the Point Reyes Hostel on Limantour Spit Road

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.

The Coast Trail is wide and mostly level
The Coast Trail is perfect for riding bikes, wide and well maintained, but watch out for the occasional sandy patch

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.

 Point Reyes Hostel is right across from Coast Trail
The trail to Coast Camp is Coast Trail, right across from the hostel
Be careful parking across from the hostel
Do not park right across from the hostel, park before it on the gravel. The tall grass is deceiving and really slick.

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.

Site 7 is the most private
Sites 1-7 are the most private of the Coast Camp sites

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.

View from Coast Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore
The Coast Trail south of Coast Camp offers great views and a moderate hike
View of pine forest on Sky Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore
The Sky Trail is an amazing and difficult hike through pine forests on the ridge of Point Reyes National Seashore
An arch carved in the rocks at Kelham Beach
South of Kelham Beach are several rock arches that you may be able to walk through depending on the tide
View of the Cliff along the coast of Point Reyes National Seashore
A cliff along Limantour Beach right next to Coast Camp
An image of the bike trailers used to haul out gear
Riding bikes into Coast Camp via the Coast trail is a great way to access the back-country campsite

Coast Camp Map

One good comment on "Coast Camp: Point Reyes National Seashore, California"

  • Alex  @ Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 5:12 PM

    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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