Muddy Hollow Trail at Point Reyes

Coastal gumweed, Grindelia stricta
Bush monkey flower, Mimulus aurantiacus

Bush monkey flower, Mimulus aurantiacus

The Point Reyes National Seashore has a wide variety of hiking trails, and opportunities to visit a wide range of wildflower zones. The Muddy Hollow trail at Point Reyes is an easy hike that starts off with a woods-lined stream, followed by a marsh, and then on to the oceanside at Limantour Beach. There is a wide range of flowers to see along the way.

Note: Click on any photograph to see a larger image.

The Hike

Alder trees along the Muddy Hollow trail

The Muddy Hollow Road parking lot is the starting point for multiple trails, some that head up into the estuary highlands. others that head back into the mountains, and the Muddy Hollow trail that leads down to Limantour Beach. The total round trip for our hike was 5.8 miles, which included the Muddy Hollow trail and then a hike behind the sand dunes on the Limantour Spit trail. If you want a shorter hike you can turn back at the beach, which would make the hike just short of 4 miles.

Creek entering the estuary

 

The trail parallels a small stream, and the early part is a nice walk under the alder trees. You start with a service road, then it becomes a well maintained trail with a bridge crossing the stream. There are lots of flowers, but you don’t want to wander off the trail because there was also a lot of poison oak.

Trail through the scrub behind the sand dunes

Eventually you come out into the estuary area, which is more exposed. Since you are at the seashore it often is breezy and overcast, so it isn’t hot. You get a different collection of wildflowers here. At the end of the Muddy Hollow trail you’ll find the parking lot for Limantour Beach. You can continue along the trail and cross over the sand dunes to the beach itself, or you can take the sandy Limantour Spit trail to the west, which runs behind the dunes and wanders through the Coyotoe Bush and Lupine shrubs. Three very different kinds of wildflower communities, all in one hike.

Move your mouse along the elevation graph to show the location on the map. Refresh the page if you need to re-center the image. Note that the distance is approximate, as I often take little side trips to find flowers!

There aren’t any restrooms at the Muddy Hollow trailhead, but there are pit toilets at the parking lot for Limantour Beach, as well as several picnic tables.

We saw Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons in the estuary area, as well as many smaller birds and ducks.

Timing is Everything

Coastal bush lupine, Lupinus arboreus

Coastal bush lupine, Lupinus arboreus

We visited in early July and found a good variety of flowers along the Muddy Hollow trail itself. This is more protected than the surrounding hills and the beach, so the flowers last longer into the season. The estuary area had masses of yellow gumweed. At the beach itself most of the flowers were finished, other than the bush Lupine and Indian Paintbrush. Because of the overcast from the ocean, temperatures stayed in the upper 60’s to low 70’s, a welcome respite from the hotter temperatures inland.

Directions to the Muddy Hollow Trail at Point Reyes

Point Reyes National Seashore is in Marin county, north of San Francisco. The nearest town is Point Reyes Station (home of Cowgirl Creamery and Bovine Bakery) on Highway 1.

From Point Reyes Station:

  • Take Highway 1 south.
  • Just after you cross the bridge right at the edge of town, turn west (right) onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
  • Sir Francis Drake Blvd ends at Bear Valley Road. Turn south (left).
  • Look for signs for Limantour Beach and turn right onto Limantour Road. This wanders up into the hills.
  • Turn right at the sign for Muddy Hollow. There is a short gravel road to a parking lot (you can’t go any further).

Note that you can continue on Limantour Road until you get to the parking lot for Limantour Beach, which is the end of the Muddy Hollow trail and the start for the Limantour Spit trail.

The Point Reyes National Seashore website has great maps that show all of the hiking trails.

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The Flowers

Please feel free to help me with the identification of any “unidentified” flowers listed here, as well as correcting any errors I may make. Click on any photograph to see a larger image. I’ll start with a few favorites, and then the “gallery” (click on the gallery pictures to scroll through).

Self heal is a pretty California native that we found in the low spots along the trail, shortly after the road turns into a hiking path.

Self heal, Prunella vulgaris

Self heal, Prunella vulgaris

There were several kinds of Indian paintbrush on this hike, some along the Muddy Hollow trail and others behind the dunes on the Limantour Spit trail. It is always hard to identify which species. Their intense, bright color makes them easy to spot.

Wight's paintbrush, Castilleja wightii

Indian Paintbrush, probably Wight’s paintbrush,
Castilleja wightii

Coyote brush is found in many locations on this hike. It is an interesting California native, with the male and female flowers on separate plants.

Coyote brush, Baccharis pilularis, Male flowers

Coyote brush, Baccharis pilularis, Male flowers

Coyote brush, Baccharis pilularis, Female flowers

Coyote brush, Baccharis pilularis, Female flowers

Purple western morning glory is a native plant found only in California.

Purple western morning glory, Calystegia purpurata ssp. purpurata

Purple western morning glory, Calystegia purpurata ssp. purpurata

To view the picture gallery, click on the larger photo below, then you can page through the gallery just by continuing to click on the images. If you recognize any that are marked “unknown” then please leave a comment (or, if I have misidentified any, let me know). Thanks!

2 Comments

  • The color of the prunellas is just gorgeous. I was near Pt. Reyes recently (Bolinas area) and found a isolated patch of them looking very similar to your picture. I would like to collect seed… i imagine seed takes ~1 month to mature from bloom?

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