There's a little of everything for hikers here -- 32,000 acres, crisscrossed by 70 miles of trails, set aside as wilderness where no motor vehicles or bicycles are allowed. The principal trail heads are Bear Valley, Palomarin, Five Brooks, and Estero. Pick up a free trail map at a visitor center.
Abbotts Lagoon Trail
If you're looking for a short, easy trail well away from the masses, this is the one. After climbing a small ridge, you continue down to Abbotts Lagoon, a popular watering hole for migratory birds. You can add 1 mile to the round-trip if you continue to Great Beach.
2-3 miles RT. Easy. Access: Abbotts Lagoon trail head parking area on Pierce Point Rd.
Bear Valley Trail
This is your best bet for a beautiful walk through the woods to the rocky coast. The well-worn trail leads through wooded hillsides until it reaches the shore at Arch Rock, where Coast Creek splashes into the sea through a "sea tunnel" (actually the arch of Arch Rock).
8.2 miles RT. Easy. Access: Bear Valley trail head, south of visitor center parking area.
Recommended by locals, this trek is one of Point Reyes's prettiest. This section of the trail skirts a cliff offering stunning views and then passes several small lakes and meadows before it reaches Alamere Falls, a freshwater stream that cascades down a 40-foot bluff onto Wildcat Beach. The longest trail at the national seashore, the Coast Trail continues for a 15-mile one-way hike along the coast that is usually done in 2 days, camping a third of the way through at Wildcat Beach. (There's another campground at Santa Maria Beach.) You'll need a second car to shuttle you back to the trail head where you began, or else make a 5-mile loop with the Coast, Fire Lane, and Laguna trails.
7 miles RT. Easy to moderate. Access: Palomarin Trailhead, just off Mesa Rd. at southern tip of park.
A favorite with birders, this mellow trail meanders along the edge of Drakes Estero and Limantour Estero. (Estero is the Spanish word for "estuary.") The brackish waters draw flocks of waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as many raptors and smaller species.
5 miles one-way. Easy to moderate. Access: Estero Parking Area.
Mount Wittenberg Trail
For the Rambo in your group, this huffer-puffer weeds out the weenies with its elevation, peaking at 1,407 feet rather abruptly. From the Bear Valley trail head, turn right onto the Mount Wittenberg Trail after .2 mile. The trail up the ridge is steep but rewards hikers with great views back east across the Olema Valley. Instead of turning around directly, if you still have the energy, you can loop back along Baldy Trail and take a path such as the Meadow Trail back to Bear Valley Trail, the main route home.
5 miles RT. Strenuous. Access: Bear Valley trail head, south of visitor center parking area.
This trek to Wildcat Beach, one of the few trails in the park open to mountain bikes, is also popular with horseback riders. It's quite steep and not as scenic as most other trails.
13 miles RT. Moderate. Access: Five Brooks parking area.
Tomales Point Trail
This trail gives hikers a tour of the park's rugged shoreline and passes through an elk reserve, home to the park's 400-strong herd of tule elk. Watch for their V-shaped tracks on the trail. About halfway through, you come to the highest spot on Pierce Point, where on a clear day you can see over the bay to the Sonoma coast and to Mount St. Helena to the northeast.
9.5 miles RT. Easy to moderate. Access: Parking lot at end of Pierce Point Rd.