Hike Into the Past at Kule Loklo in Point Reyes

July 19, 2014

Kule LokloExplore a piece of Marin's past at Kule Loklo, a reconstruction of a Coast Miwok village located near the Point Reyes National Seashore visitor center in Bear Valley. It's just a short .3-mile hike from the parking area, but it feels like you're travelling a world away, back to a time before European settlement in California.

Kule Loklo, which means "Bear Valley", was created back in the 1970s to give visitors to Point Reyes an idea of what life was like for Native Americans in the area. The village is not built on the site of any existing Miwok settlement, but is in a place where one definitely could have been, with a nearby creek and plenty of oak trees and wildlife.

The trail to Kule Loklo is easy to manage for everyone, and perfect for an off-road stroller. On the way, you'll get a nice view of the Morgan Horse farm and other facilities at Bear Valley. Follow the trail to the right, pass a stand of tall eucalyptus trees, and you'll find yourself at Kule Loklo.

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You can explore various dwellings and buildings, including kotchas made of redwood or tule and the semi-subterranean sweathouse. There's also a large roundhouse. Entrance to this building is restricted, though, since it's used for traditional ceremonial purposes.

While it's fun and fascinating to explore Kule Loklo on your own, it's even more interesting to participate in some of the programs here, including ranger-guided walks and activities. Check the Point Reyes National Seashore schedule for more information. Also taking place here is the annual Big Time Festival, a celebration of local Native American culture held every July.

If You Go

Admission to Kule Loklo is free, and it's open all day every day. To get there, take Point Reyes–Petaluma Road, via either Novato Boulevard or Lucas Valley Road, west to Highway 1. Turn left at the stop sign and follow Highway 1 down through Point Reyes Station. After the bridge, turn right onto Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, then turn left onto Bear Valley Road. Follow Bear Valley Road south about two miles; the entrance to the Bear Valley Visitor Center is on your right and is clearly marked.

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An alternate route from central or southern Marin is to follow Sir Francis Drake Boulevard west through the San Geronimo Valley to Olema. Turn right onto Highway 1 in Olema and then take your first left onto Bear Valley Road. Follow Bear Valley Road about a half mile to the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Plenty of parking is available in the paved lot in front of the visitor center and in the larger dirt parking lot near the picnic area. Bear Valley is a popular destination, for tourists, local day trippers and picnicers, and hikers and campers heading to the nearby trailheads, so it can get very busy on weekends and holidays, especially during the summer.

Restrooms and drinking fountains are available at Kule Loklo. The area is partly shaded, so hats and sunscreen are recommended. Look out for poison oak along the trail—there's plenty of it. For more information, visit www.nps.org/pore.