For more information about Point Reyes park and how to plan you visit see my blog:
Point Reyes – Day Trip from San Francisco: A Trip Planner
What? : A hike to the Alamere Falls and surrounding area. Alamere Falls is a waterfall that flows directly into the ocean, it is one of only two known such falls in California, the other being McWay Falls.
Alamere Falls is cascade of few small waterfalls and a large waterfall at the last drop 40-foot-tall cliff into the ocean.
Where? : Located on the south mainland south section of Point Reyes, near the town of Bolinas.
The shortest and most popular hike to the waterfall start at Palomarin Trailhead.
When? : This hike is year round (I visit here in all seasons) but the stream feeding the waterfall has a lot more water flow during winter and spring months, at summer and fall months the waterfall, although flowing, is not so impressive.
Due note 1: This trail is not a park official hike trail to the Alamere waterfall.
This hike will bring you the top of the waterfall cliff and descending to the beach below
may be dangerous.
Another option to hike to the base of the waterfall is to walk from Wildcat Campground beach along the oceanfront when there is low tide.
Please read all notes and warning at the oficial park website:
Due note 2: I visit there several times during winter months when there are a lot of running water in the creek, During dry summer months the creek may be dry.
Due note 3: This is a popular hike and unless you are starting your hike early in the morning you will find many other hikers on the trail and near the waterfall.
Most hikers are using the un-official trail and others are coming from Wildcat Campground.
Due Note 4: Restrooms are located at the trailhead.
Due Note 5: Dogs and other pets are prohibited on almost all trails within Point Reyes National Seashore, including all of the trails leading to Alamere Falls.
A unique waterfall that flowing directly into the ocean.
In some of my visits I hiked directly to the waterfall but in most other I hike much longer hikes in this section of the park.
Few notes on the hike:
· The 4.5 miles one-way hike (9 miles out and back) to the waterfall combines a relatively easy trail with forest, lakes (you can swim during summer months), nice ocean view and even seashore access.
· Although most of the hikers are using the shortcut trail the short 1/2-mile single-track trail connecting the main Coast Trail to the waterfalls is unmarked and unofficial trail and is not maintained by the park service.
· To get down to the oceanfront near the waterfall you need to go down in scratchy section of eroding cliffs, take this into consideration if you want to go down the the oceanfront.
· The best time of the day to visit the waterfall is at the afternoon, if you wait till sunset than you will need to walk in dark back to the cars. Plan for ~1.5 hr walk, to hike back the 4.5 miles to the trailhead. 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 to the north and take the first left when getting to Lake Ranch fork (this will be after hiking 2.2 miles). in that section of the trail you will walk along the cliffs and than climb up a steep section into inland.
Right after the trail turn to the left there is a small water pond on your left.
Keep hiking north on the Coast Trail and pass Bass Lake (2.8 miles from the trail head) and Pelican lake viewpoint after additional 0.7 mile.
After Pelican lake viewing point you will cross high point and the trail stat descending.
After for about 200m on your left you can see a un-marked entrance into the bushes and narrow trail going into the vegetation.
Every time I visit here there was an arrow or other clear marking made of stones marking the entrance.
If you keep walking and reach the tree section or the bridge over Alamere creek you missed the trail, go back and look for the entrance.
From this point 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).
You will pass 2 small waterfalls and then you will reach the top of Alamere Falls, right on the 40ft 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 to descend it but this is not an easy section fit for everyone, 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 maybe eating something you can go back and hike 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):
After visiting the waterfall keep hiking north on Coast Trail, take left at the first fork trail 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 location (Wildcat Campground) you have an overnight campground (permit required), restrooms, water source and ocean beach access.
During low tide you can hike along the beach all the way south for about 1 mile to the Alamere Falls base.
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).
11 mile hike combining the waterfall and the ocean beach:
Another 11 miles long hiking option is to hike to the waterfall, go down to the beach and hike north to Wildcat Campground along the oceanfront.
From here hike back south on Coast Trail and walk on directly all the way to the parking lot trailhead.