Backpacking at Point Reyes – Coast Camp

Backpacking at Point Reyes National Seashore is a yearly tradition for me. I’ve been going ever since we took a class trip in sixth grade, and I almost always stay at one of the backpacking camps (though this year I stayed at Marshall Beach in Tomales Bay). Of the four camps, my favorites are the two on the coast, protected by sand dunes. Coast Camp is the easiest to hike to with a short hike option of only 1.8 miles in order to get to camp. At this camp, you have access to potable water, pit toilets, garbage cans and bear lockers, making it about the most luxurious backpacking you’ll ever do.

The same amenities are available at Wildcat Camp, a bit further south on the coast is even more beautiful, but takes a minimum hike of 5.5 miles to reach your camp. This site is about a two mile walk down the beach from Alamere Falls, which is one of only two waterfalls in California that cascade onto the beach (the other is McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park).


Coast Camp at Point Reyes. Photo credit: Lisette

Some tips for camping at Point Reyes:

  • Reserve early, particularly if you want a weekend reservation
  • Start at the Bear Valley Visitor Center to collect your permit
  • Bring a “ratsack” – small mice get into the bear lockers and will wreak havoc on your trail mix and oatmeal
  • Get a fire permit, these are free and allow you to build beach fires with driftwood you collect nearby
  • Book for early spring (through May) and fall, but avoid June-August or the winter months for ideal weather

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