Point Reyes Lighthouse.
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Point Reyes Lighthouse in Point Reyes National Seashore

You’re in the right place if you want to know more about Point Reyes Lighthouse!

Set along the rugged California coast, this historic beacon has been guiding ships safely for over a century. But it’s not just a functional lighthouse—it’s also a perfect destination for a spectacular hike.

This is probably one of California’s coolest lighthouses and one of the best trails in Point Reyes National Seashore, at least, we think so!

Quick Notes:

Lighthouse hours: 10 am – 4 pm on Saturdays through Mondays. Tuesdays through Fridays, it’s closed.

Trail: 300 steps down to the lighthouse!

History of Point Reyes Lighthouse

Point Reyes Lighthouse, established in 1870, has been a vital guardian of ships navigating the treacherous California coast for well over a century.

Tourists walking down the stairs towards Point Reyes Lighthouse.
The stairs leading down to the lighthouse are no joke

Its architectural design, featuring a distinctive white tower set against the rugged cliffs with the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean just behind it is an iconic sight.

Throughout its history, it has faced challenges, such as enduring harsh coastal conditions and transitioning to automation in the 1970s, which rendered lighthouse keepers obsolete.

The colorful interior of Point Reyes Lighthouse lamp.
The lamp of the lighthouse is pretty cool!

Today, it stands as a testament to its critical role in maritime safety and offers us a place to explore.

Getting to Point Reyes Lighthouse

Make your way to the Point Reyes National Seashore, located about two hours north of San Francisco.

Once you’ve arrived at the visitor center, grab a trail map and any last-minute provisions you may need. Be sure to check the current conditions, as the weather can be unpredictable, and you’ll want to dress accordingly.

A unique looking wind swept tree over the path to Point Reyes Lighthouse.
It was soo foggy the day we went

You’ll want to get out here early as there are plenty of other things to do on this stunning peninsula, you wouldn’t want to arrive and miss out on the rest!

Read our other guides to Point Reyes:

Trail Details

Distance: 1.3 miles
Type of Trail: Out-and-Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 331 feet

The trek to Point Reyes Lighthouse isn’t for the faint of heart. The path is over 300 steps (30 stories) DOWN from the visitor center, which means you’ll need to be prepared for the return back UP.

Two people on the stairs leading down to Point Reyes Lighthouse on a foggy day.
Beware of the steps

However, don’t let that deter you—the stunning scenery and fresh ocean air make every step worth it.

The Trail Down

From the parking lot, you’ll follow a paved path with really cool windswept trees hovering over the trail. You’ll then come upon the visitor center, where you can get more info about the lighthouse before your descent!

Nina walking under some unique looking trees that have been bent by the wind.
The trees really give this trail a unique look!

As you head down the stories to the Point Reyes Lighthouse Trail, you’ll notice the rugged terrain that defines this area. Dramatic cliffs overlook the vast Pacific Ocean, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a wild, untamed world.

You’ll get a great view of the lighthouse as you’re coming down—it’s a clear day, that is!

Nina standing beside whale bones.
We past some random whale bones along the route

We hope you bundled up because it’s usually very windy here, and there isn’t much relief. You can pop into the lighthouse to check around, but you usually can’t get into the top part. They open it depending on the weather and only between 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm.

Two deer on a very foggy day near Point Reyes Lighthouse.
This deer probably thinks they are hidden in the fog, but we definitely spotted it!

Keep your eyes peeled for some fantastic wildlife spotting. Point Reyes is known for its diverse range of bird species, and you might catch sight of peregrine falcons, seabirds, or even migrating gray whales if you time your visit right.

You can, at the least, explore around the lighthouse and sometimes even the inside if you time it right (see tips below)!

Point Reyes Lighthouse on a cliffside on an overcast day.
This is one of the most unique lighthouses in California

Now, for the hike back up, those 300 steps we mentioned earlier await… Oh, yay! Hopefully, you found the trip down worth it; we did!

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • The Lighthouse Visitor Center and the stairs leading down are open from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturdays through Mondays. Tuesdays through Fridays, it’s closed. Double-check hours here.
  • Don’t expect any day to be a clear day. Fog rolls through and stays here often, you might not see much during your visit! It was VERY foggy for our visit.
  • From December through May, open your eyes wide, you might just spot a whale from here!
  • Spring is known for its wildflowers that cover the fields here.
  • When winds exceed 40 miles per hour (64 km/h), they close the stairs down.
  • After you’re done at Point Reyes Lighthouse, you should head to Chimney Rock just down the street and try spotting elephant seals on the beach!

Read our other guides to Point Reyes:

We hope this helped you plan your trip to Point Reyes Lighthouse!

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