Point Reyes – Alamere Falls

Introduction:

Where? : Located on the mainland south section of Point Reyes (near the town of Bolinas), hike start at Palomarin.

Google Map Link




 

What? : A hike to the Alamere Falls and surrounding area.

 

When? : Year round.

 

Due note 1: This trail is not the park official hike to the Alamere waterfall; it will bring you the top of the waterfall cliff and descending to the beach below may be dangerous. Please read all notes and warning at the park website.

https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/alamere_falls.htm

 

Due note 2: I visit there several times during winter months when there are running water in the creek, I do not know if the stream and the waterfall is running all year round.

 

My thoughts: A unique waterfall that flowing directly into the ocean. A place to do long hikes with many things to see.

 

The visit:

 

Few notes on the hike:

·         The 4.5 miles one-way hike (9 miles total) to the waterfall combines a relatively easy trail with forest, lakes (can swim during summer), nice ocean view and even seashore access.

·         The short 1/2-mile single-track trail connecting the main Coast Trail to the waterfalls is un-marked and not maintained by the park service.

·         To get down to the oceanfront you need to pass eroding cliffs so take this into consideration.

·         Best time of the day to visit the waterfall is afternoon, if you wait till sunset than you will need to walk in dark back to the cars. this is ~1.5 hr walk, I do not think they lock the parking gate at night, but you can never know….


 

Recommended trail (9 miles):

Park your car at Palomarin Trailhead parking lot. Hike the Coast Trail north and take left when getting to Lake Ranch fork (after 2.2 miles), right after the fork there is a small water pond on your left.

Keep hiking north on Coast Trail and pass Bass Lake (2.8 miles from the trail head) and Pelican lake viewpoint after additional 0.7 mile.




After that you will cross the high point and the trail stat descending. After for about 200m on your left you can see a un-marked entrance and narrow trail going into the vegetation. Every time I visit here there was an arrow made of stones marking the entrance.



If you reach the large tree section or the bridge over Alamere creek you missed the trail, go back and look for the entrance.

From here take the half mile trail down to Alamere Falls, although un-maintained by the park service the trail is clear and usually without vegetation (be careful not to touch the poison oak). At some point you will reach an open section and you will need to climb down on the rocks (this is not a difficult section). Pass 2 small waterfalls and then you will reach the top of Alamere Falls, right on the 30f cliff above the ocean.




You can view the falls from above or go down to the ocean and see the waterfall from below. To go down you need to take the right (north) sides of the waterfalls and take the slippery crumbling gravel, non-maintained, section. No need for a rope but this is not an easy section, you need to be very careful going down.



Depending on the season, tide level and waves you may have a sandy or rocky beach below the waterfall. Check before going down because at high tide the ocean wave may be crashing on the cliff itself so you can’t even go down at all.

After enjoying the waterfall view, resting and eating you can go back to the parking lot on the same trail you came in or continue with your hike ….

 

Hike extension (overall 12 miles long, color: Blue in the map):

Keep hiking north on Coast Trail, take left at the fork into Ocean Lake Loop Trail. Pass Wildcat lake on your right and once connected to Coast trail take left down to Wildcat Campground. At this point you have an overnight campground (permit required), restrooms and water and ocean beach access. During low tide you can hike all the way south to the Alamere Falls base.


Important note: depending on the high/low tide the ocean can reach up all the way to the cliff-face so if you are taking long hike along the shore you may find yourself in high tide stack without ability to go back or climb up.

From Wildcat Campground you can hike the Coastal trail all the way back south to the parking lot (total of 12 miles hike).



 

From Wildcat Campground you can have additional hike extension, total of 14 miles hike, including some steep mountain climb:

From the campground area hike up the mountains on maintenance Rd., when the Costal Rd. take left keep right at the fork up on Stewart Trail.


The trail keeps climbing and you will walk on that trail until you reach the Old Out Rd. Trail on your right. Turn right into Old Out Rd Trail and hike down in the woods until you reach Coastal Trail. Turn left and head back to parking-lot. Overall, this is a 14 miles hike that combines all what this region has to offer, the Alamere Falls, lakes, ocean cliffs, beach and dense pine forest.

 

There is another even longer hiking option (16 miles in total, color: Red+Blue in the map):

This is a much longer hike that start from the same parking lot but first it is climbing the ridge top through the forest and only on your way back you will visit Alamere falls.



At the first trail junction of Coastal trail (2.2 miles from the trail head) take right into Lake Ranch Trail. The trail climbing the mountain ridge in the dense pine forest. After passing Mud Lake (4.8 miles from TH) additional 0.5 mile will bring you to trails junction. Turn left into Ridge Trail that will start to take down, keep left on Ridge trail until it connecting to Stewart Trail. Turn left and hike all the way down to the campsite near the ocean.

Here you can go and visit the beach, up to point this was 9.5 miles hike.



From the campground take the Coast Trail south, cross the small bridge near the campground and climb the hill to your right. If you took the recommended Ocean Lake Loop Trail after 1.5 miles from the campground you will reach the wooden bridge over Alamere Creek (1.65 miles if you hike the Coast Trail).

From here you will start to hike up the hill and after ~0.2 mile look for the small trail that is going to Alamere falls on your right. Visit the Alamere Falls and hike back 4.5 miles to the parking lot.

 

www:

https://www.nps.gov/pore/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/alamere_falls.htm

 

Map:

https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/upload/map_park_closures_201023.pdf

 

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