Limantour Beach and Spit, Point Reyes: Limantour Beach Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California
Limantour Beach and Spit - 5.7 miles
Point Reyes: Limantour Beach Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||5.7 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||45' - 0' (45' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||-45' net elevation loss (+97' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Limantour Beach and Spit - 5.7 Miles Round-Trip
A spit is a deposition landform connected to the coast that projects into open water. Spits typically form where longshore ocean drifts meet a section of land with contours greater than 30 degrees.
Bent sharply and receding perpendicularly from the shore, these currents lose momentum and deposit sediment in their wake down the shoreline. Growing spits shelter backwaters from wind and waves, enabling salt marshes to form.
In Point Reyes, ocean waves from the northwest hit Point Reyes Beach head on (north of Limantour Spit) and bend around its tapered southern tip, gradually breaking at an angle on Limantour Beach and Spit. This angled break carries deposits of sand, contributing to its westward growth.
Limantour Spit is located at the convergence of ocean, marsh and estuary, providing critical habitat for thousands of birds and seals on their daily and seasonal migrations. Visitors will enjoy pristine beaches, dunes and diverse wildlife on along Limantour Spit:
The trail drops from the parking lot through a narrow band of marsh to the dune ridge and beach (.25 miles), bypassing the Muddy Hollow Trailhead en route. The Limantour Spit Trail begins just before reaching the dune ridge and bears northwest (right).
Once known as Limantour Drive, the trail weaves between the dunes and a defunct subdivision that began development prior to 19 62 when the National Seashore was formed. Only 6 homes were built before the project was halted and dismantled by the Park Service.
The path runs along the spit's north shore through pickleweed, silverweed and coastal scrub before fading out in the spit's wider, western end (1.3 miles).
You can survey the Limantour Estero and ocean from the dune's highest points with useful perspective on the convergence of ocean, dune and marsh. Look for western grebes, canvass back duck, egrets, herons, willets, sandpipers, pelicans and gulls along the way.
In 2.4 miles a wide gap in the dunes provides a convenient, eco-sensitive passage to the spit's north side with views of Drake's Head, Sunset Beach, Drake's Beach and the greater Drake's Estero.
Harbor Seals and Sea Lions frequently congregate here, though scatter quickly when approached; maintain a respectful distance from wildlife at all times. The trail-less spit continues to the mouth of Drake's Bay (2.85 miles) with terrific views of the Point Reyes Headlands.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N38 01.728 W122 52.974 — 0.0 miles : Limantour Beach Trailhead
- N38 01.548 W122 52.993 — .25 miles : Reach beach - bear right
- N38 01.926 W122 55.644 — 2.85 miles : End of Limantour Spit
- Avoid treading on delicate dune vegetation. Maintain a respectful distance from seals and other wildlife. Never feed wildlife.
- 20% of California's Harbor Seals breed in the Gulf of the Farallones, of which Point Reyes National Seashore is a part.
- Elephant seals are the largest pinniped with males reaching a maximum of about 5,000 pounds. Harbor seals are much smaller, with both males and females reaching a maximum weight of around 250 pounds.
Rules and Regulations
- Harbor Seal Pupping Season: March through June
- Do not disturb mothers or pups.
- Stay 300' away from seal colonies.
- Report abandoned or injured pups to Park Headquarters.
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Rd.
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Visitor Information: 415.464.5100 x2 or 415.663.8522 x2
Headquarters: 415.464.5100 x 1
Volunteer Information: 415.464.5145
Education Programs: 415.464.5139
Special Use Permits: 415.464.5111