Hike Alamere Falls, California: Top Bay Area Hikes
Hike Alamere Falls, California
Hike Alamere Falls, California and find the gorgeous waterfall that crashes onto Wildcat Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore in the Phillip Burton Wilderness of Northern California. The 40 foot cliff of cascading water is the reward for the spectacular 6.5 mile hike starting at the Palomarin Trailhead. A 13 mile round trip day that is worth every minute.
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When you hike Alamere Falls, California, the trail will take you along a coastal cliff, down to the valley floor, past lakes, through the forest, and back up to incredible views. All this is before you even get to the beach and the Alamere waterfall! It’s quite the adventure, but not really that strenuous of a hike! Plan a day to hike Alamere Falls, California.
Know before you go
When To Go
The best time to see Alamere Falls flowing heavily is during a rainy winter or the spring after the rains. Since we are having historically low amounts of rain, the flow onto the falls may be small when you go. However, keep in mind the hike, as well as the Falls. You might not want to be hiking in mud for 13 miles. Also keep in mind the wildflower season. Springtime is the best time to go for a full flower extravaganza! There is a fair amount of shade along the trail, but summer may be too hot.
Where To Park
Put the Palomarin Trailhead in your GPS. The Palomarin parking area, open 6AM – Midnight, is probably the most popular place to start the hike, so arrive early, really early, (by 6:30 AM) especially if you are going on the weekend. (You will be turned away if the lot is full and it is another 35 to 45 minute drive to Bear Valley or Five Brooks trailheads.) Approximately five miles northwest of Bolinas is Mesa Road leading to the parking area. The last 1.2 miles of Mesa Road are unpaved, so be prepared for a bumpy ride.
The park service asks that you stay on the trails. There is NOT an official “Alamere Falls Trail” or a sanctioned shortcut to the top of the falls. You may see a circle and arrow made from sticks pointing to a spot where people veere off the trail and have created a shortcut, but the park service asks that you not do this. It is frowned upon because of eroding cliffs, poison oak, ticks, people getting injured and requiring search and rescue, and probably a myriad of other reasons the park service specifically has not groomed a path there.
That being said, we did join the trend to climb up the side of the Falls on our way back. My bad knee and hip required the friendly support of some hearty young things to pull me up a steep incline, at one point. I could definitely see how people easily get hurt and how the foot traffic is eroding the terrain. It is not a groomed trail, but does get you to the top of the falls, which is quite special.
So, I am glad I experienced it, but totally understand why we were not supposed to. It led us to an unmarked trail which eventually got us back to the Coast Trail, only because we were following the crowd. Otherwise, we may have been wandering for an indefinite amount of time!
PRINT OUT THE MAP before you go. You will lose cell service and you should always have a trail map with you! You can download it from the National Seashore website: https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/upload/map_alamere_falls.pdf
Bring plenty of water.
Wear layers. Bay Area microclimates are no joke! You may have some chilly morning fog and then some early morning sun. Sneakers are fine, serious hiking boots are not necessary.
I recommend starting your hike by 6:30 AM. You will get a parking spot and have some quiet trail time, not to mention a less crowded beach and Falls experience. From the Palomarin trailhead, follow trail signs to the right, onto the Coast Trail. Then follow signs to Wildcat Campground. This is a 5.5 mile hike. You descend to the beach and then walk 1.1 miles south to Alamere Falls.
Plan on staying as long as you like, while eating your brunch, relaxing, sitting, strolling, and taking photos.
Tell your friends to hike Alamere Falls, California, a top Bay Area Hike!
Enjoy one of Bolina’s many charming eateries after the hike. Since you started so early in the day, you’ll have plenty of time for more exploring!