Chimney Rock Trail.
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Chimney Rock Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore

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Picture yourself on a breezy coastal adventure, surrounded by some crazy coastal cliffs, with the sound of waves crashing below you. Welcome to the Chimney Rock trail in Point Reyes National Seashore!

A view across Chimney Rock and a beach at the base of the cliffs.
The Chimney Rock trail is quite the stunner!

Here, breathtaking vistas, diverse wildlife, and vibrant wildflowers await on an easy and super-worth-it hike.

What to Know For The Chimney Rock Hike

Here are the trail details for Chimney Rock. Generally speaking, you can complete this hike in under an hour.

Distance: 1.8 miles
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 160 feet

Getting to Chimney Rock

The Chimney Rock Hike is in the Point Reyes National Seashore, located about two hours north of San Francisco. To embark on this adventure, you’ll want to make your way to the trailhead.

Nina hiking along a gravel trail which is part of the Chimney Rock Trail.
Shortly after the trailhead of the Chimney Rock Trail

Early birds catch the worm, or in this case, the parking spot, so arriving early is a smart move, especially on weekends when the trail can get crowded. Not only that but you need at least a whole day to see some more of what’s out here at Point Reyes.

Two female hikers walking by Chimney Rock on an overcast day.
As the trail heads to the beginning of Chimney Rock

Don’t underestimate the drive out here, you’ll have to drive across and down the peninsula to get here!

Read our other guides to Point Reyes:

The Trail to Chimney Rock

The Chimney Rock Trail is under 2 miles round trip, making it a relatively short but incredibly rewarding hike. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your water bottle, and let’s dive into the details!

Hiking along Chimney Rock Trail best hikes in Point Reyes.
The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow

The trailhead greets you with rolling hills and striking coastal views right from the start. The path is well-maintained and relatively flat, making it accessible for hikers of all levels.

It leads hikers along a single-track path, gently ascending the hillside and passing by a residence and an old lifeboat station. It’s a historic gem, and it was used to help shipwrecks offshore!

From this point onward, you’ll head a bit more to the hill’s summit and then walk along the top, spanning the last half-mile. Although you’ll see some detours and trails along the way, don’t head off the main trail.

I want to tell you you’ll see amazing coastal views from here, but really—you’ll get it the WHOLE WAY!

Garret walking across a hillside path along Chimney Rock Trail.
The trail has some amazing views the entire way!

This is an epic hike where there’s no true reward, you are just consistently shown rugged, raw, stunning craggy coastal views.

Hiking past Chimney Rock for Point Reyes hikes.
The full scale of Chimney Rock

Personally, we loved this hike because you got a lot of bang for your buck, and you didn’t even need to break a sweat.

Garret walking along a cliff edge with Chimney Rock in the background on an overcast day.
Garret enjoying the view across Chimney Rock

Head to The Elephant Seal Overlook

Don’t jet off after hiking to Chimney Rock. There’s a side quest you have to go to!

An elephant seal walking out of the ocean to his colony near Chimney Rock.
This little guy walking out of the ocean to join his friends

Just down and to the left of the Chimney Rock trailhead, you’ll notice another path, and this path leads you to a beautiful overview where you can get some great views.

But if you listen closely and zero in on the sound, you’ll see a long stretch of beach with elephant seals basking and playing!

An elephant seal colony resting on a small beach.
They found this small, secluded beach to relax on

You’ll want to bring your binoculars or a telephoto lens to capture this spot!

Check Out Point Reyes Lighthouse

Just a few minutes of driving up the road, and you’ll find Point Reyes Lighthouse. This is another easy “trail” to tackle. It’s actually a set of 300 steps to the lighthouse and is a well-worth-it spot to combine with the Chimney Rock trail.

Point Reyes Lighthouse on a cliffside on an overcast day.
Point Reyes Lighthouse is just down the road, don’t miss it!

Quick Tips for Chimney Rock in Point Reyes:

  • Check the Weather: The coastal weather can change rapidly, so check the weather forecast before you head out. Layers are your best friend, as it can get chilly and windy, even on a sunny day. It was so windy for us!
View across a pier extending into the ocean and a narrow road with people walking along it on an overcast day.
Even on an overcast day it was beautiful
  • Arrive Early: To secure a parking spot and avoid crowds, arrive early in the day, especially on weekends.
  • Stay on the Trail: The Chimney Rock Trail is well-marked, so stick to the designated path to protect fragile ecosystems and prevent erosion. Unauthorized trails can lead to habitat damage.
  • Whale Watch: Come December through May and try to spot whales!
  • Wildflowers in Spring: Spring and early summer are the best times to witness the park’s flora in full bloom—California poppies, lupines, and monkeyflowers!
  • Binoculars and Camera: If you’re a wildlife enthusiast or photography lover, bring binoculars and a camera to capture the diverse wildlife and breathtaking views.
An colony of elephant seals sleeping on a beach while a seagull flies by.
Bring a long telephoto lens for photography!
  • Respect Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from wildlife and observe without disturbing.
  • Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, not picking wildflowers, and minimizing your impact on the environment.

Read our other guides to Point Reyes:

We hope this helped you with your trip to hike Chimney Rock in Point Reyes!

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