Alamere Falls, Point Reyes: Palomarin Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California
Alamere Falls - 8.6 miles
Point Reyes: Palomarin Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||255' - 0' (568' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||-255' net elevation loss (+1,083' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Alamere Falls - 8.6 Miles Round-Trip
Alamere Falls drops 40' from a steep bluff onto the south end of Wildcat Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. This multi-tier fall gushes year round and peaks after winter rains.
The most direct route begins at Palomarin Trailhead and follows the Coast Trail to the falls. This option requires two short but precarious scrambles down rutted cliffs to the falls' base on Wildcat Beach.
Alternatively, hikers may continue past this first access point to Wildcat Beach, and walk back south on the beach to the falls. The following describes the Coast Trail - Alamere Falls Trail route. See Worth Noting below for details on other travel options:
The Coast Trail weaves through a eucalyptus grove to an unmarked split for Palomarin Beach (.13 miles : 272'), emerging on high bluffs over the beach and Abalone Point (.4 miles). Keep a safe distance from unstable cliff edges.
The trail rises gradually over Palomarin before making a decisive inland turn around a wide coastal valley (1.2 miles : 340'). Note clear delineations between diminutive coastal scrub on lower slopes, and Douglas fir forests above.
The trail pushes up and further inland, a chance to examine the coast's inner-topography. The undulating climb crests near Lake Ranch Trail split (2.23 miles : 560'), past which it levels by a cluster of small, lily-padded ponds.
This is an ideal place to look for waterfowl, deer, fox, quail, rabbit and bobcat. Social trails lead to many of the ponds, but be mindful of poison ivy, oak and stinging nettles as you explore.
Bass Lake soon comes into view (2.75 miles : 445'), however thick vegetation limits access to one spur on its northeast corner (2.9 miles : 400').
The trail rises over Bass Lake and bends west through dark timber between the Crystal Lake Trail (3.15 miles : 482') and Pelican Lake (3.55 miles : 422'). It drops from Pelican Lake to a clearing at the Alamere Falls Trail split (3.75 miles : 270').
The Alamere Falls Trail is initially well defined, dropping through coastal scrub to Alamere Creek and its upper cascades (4.1 miles : 110'). This is an ideal turnaround point for those not intent on reaching the beach.
Here the trail fades, but follows an intuitive path beside the creek down a rugged gully to the base of the first major cascade, tucked away in a grotto to the right (4.15 miles : 60').
The trail resumes on the north side of the creek. Cross here, or drop another 10' feet to the base of a second cascade and narrower section of creek. Either way you must cross the creek to continue; use your best judgment and cross where flow is lightest.
Once over you'll have a good look back at the upper cascades, down at the main falls and across Wildcat Beach to Arch Rock. The path may be tricky to reclaim depending on where you cross.
Look for a small knoll just north of the general creek crossing area - the trail sneaks just behind this and is soon easy to follow.
The main path curls behind the knoll and drops 25' down a very steep, unstable gully to the beach. Anticipate crumbling earth and loose rock wherever you place weight. Once down you'll enjoy terrific views of the falls and miles of open beach to explore (4.3 miles : 0').
- N37 56.057 W122 44.826 — 0.0 miles : Palomarin Trailhead
- N37 56.250 W122 45.560 — 1.0 miles : Travel on bluffs over Palomarin Beach
- N37 56.591 W122 45.494 — 2.0 miles : Curl inland around wide coastal valley
- N37 56.799 W122 45.436 — 2.2 miles Lake Ranch Trail junction
- N37 57.160 W122 45.886 — 2.9 miles : Bass Lake access spur
- N37 57.104 W122 46.160 — 3.15 miles : Crystal Lake Trail junction
- N37 57.233 W122 46.689 — 3.75 miles : Alamere Falls Trail junction
- N37 57.248 W122 46.983 — 4.1 miles : Cross Falls (point may vary by individual)
- N37 57.212 W122 47.016 — 4.3 miles : Alamere Falls and Wildcat Beach
- N37 58.165 W122 47.452 — 5.45 miles : Wildcat Camp and Coast Trail access
- If you do not wish to return via the Alamere Falls Trail, you may walk 1.15 miles north up Wildcat Beach to pick up the Coast Trail at Wildcat Camp. This route - a lollipop loop - is 11.2 miles roundtrip, and approximately 1650' total roundtrip elevation gain. Note that fog may conceal the beach-exit point for Wildcat Camp.
- If you do not wish to travel on the Alamere Falls Trail, take the Coast Trail 5.65 miles from the Palomarin Trailhead to Wildcat Camp. Drop to the beach, and walk 1.15 miles south to the falls. Return the way you came. This is 13.7 miles roundtrip, and approximately 1985' total roundtrip elevation gain.
- Wildcat Beach can also be reached via the Stewart Trail, a bike path that leaves from Five Brooks Trailhead, scales Inverness Ridge and drops to the coast.
- Alamere Falls is located approximately 15.8 miles roundtrip from Five Brooks Trailhead via the Stewart Trail. Bikes are permitted on the Stewart Trail, and foot travel may be accelerated on its graded path.
- Call ahead for travel conditions on the Alamere Falls Trail, and for tide information on Wildcat Beach.
- Weather is unpredictable and can change quickly in Point Reyes, especially along the coast. Come prepared for a range of weather conditions throughout the day. Multiple layers, waterproof outer layers and sun protection will ensure pleasant travel through changing conditions along the way.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Camping is by permit only. Camping permits must be obtained from the Bear Valley Visitor Center before starting your trip. If you have made a reservation and are arriving after 5 p.m., a permit will be left for you in a small wooden box on the back side of the information board outside the Bear Valley Visitor Center.
- Campsites may be reserved up to three months in advance. To obtain a reservation, call 415.663.8054 between 9 am and 2 pm, Monday - Friday. Reservations by phone are not accepted at any other time. You may make reservations in person 7 days a week at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. You may also fax your reservation using our fax form and fax number: 415.464.5149.
Wildcat Camp - Campground Information
- Wildcat Camp is located in a coastal meadow between bluffs and the ocean It's located 5.65 miles from the Palomarin Trailhead, 7.8 miles from the Bear Valley Trailhead, and 6.7 miles from Five Brooks Trailhead.
- There are 5 individual sites and 3 group sites; three of the individual sites only hold up to four people. Each individual site has a picnic table, food storage locker and charcoal grill. Group sites have two picnic tables, two food storage lockers and one large or two regular charcoal grills.
- Wood fires are prohibited in hike-in campgrounds. Only gas stoves, charcoal or canned heat may be used for cooking. Downed wood may not be gathered and burned.
- Camping is limited to 4 nights per visit, with a maximum of 30 nights per year.
- The minimum age of any camper is 18 unless accompanied by an adult.
- Pets are not permitted in campgrounds. The maximum number of horses or pack animals in any campground is eight. Pack animals and horses must be tied to hitch rails.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs are not permitted on the Coast Trail.
- Bikes are not permitted on the Coast Trail.
- Wood Fires: Permits are now required for any wood fire within the National Seashore. Permits are available at visitor centers, the dispatch office, and from field rangers. Permits may only be obtained on the day you plan on having a fire. The permit is free. Permits are not available or valid during high, very high or extreme fire danger. For current fire information, call 415.464.5100 x2 x1.
- Wood Fire Locations: Wood fires are allowed only on beaches (below the high tide line, if possible), 9 meters (30 feet) or more from vegetation and other flammable material - nowhere else.
- Wood Fire Fuel: Reasonable amounts of driftwood may be gathered from beaches. Driftwood should be dry and clean (i.e., no wood coated with creosote or other chemicals, no wood embedded with nails or other metal objects), and shouldn't be much larger or longer than your arm.
- Fire Size and Dousing: The fire may not be more than 0.9 meters (36 inches) in diameter.Before leaving your beach fire, put it out completely with water. Douse the fire with water, stir the coals, douse with water again. Repeat until the coals do not emit any heat. Do not cover the coals with sand, as it will only insulate the heat and be an unseen danger to wildlife and barefoot visitors.
- Fires must be extinguished by 12 midnight.
Directions to Trailhead
The Palomarin Trailhead is located 15.4 miles south of the Highway 1 - Sir Francis Drake Intersection in Olema, CA (or 15.9 miles from the Bear Valley Visitor Center).
From Highway 1 - Sir Francis Drake Intersection:
Head south on Highway 1 for 9.1 miles to the Olema-Bolinas Road intersection and bear right. This is an unmarked 'Y' intersection (if you find yourself driving with the Bolinas Lagoon on your right, you've gone too far). Continue 1.3 miles to the stop sign on Horseshoe Hill Road. Turn Left to remain on the Olema-Bolinas Road. Continue .5 miles to Mesa Road and turn right (west). Travel 4.5 miles on Mesa Road to its terminus at the Palomarin Trailhead and Parking Lot.
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Rd.
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Visitor Information: 415.464.5100 x2 or 415.663.8522 x2
Headquarters: 415.464.5100 x 1
Volunteer Information: 415.464.5145
Education Programs: 415.464.5139
Special Use Permits: 415.464.5111