Point Reyes National Seashore
Distance: 16 miles Time: 10 hours Type: There and back
Alamere Falls is a tidal water fall within Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, less than 2 hours north of San Francisco. There are only two such tidal falls in southern California, the other being the much-photographed McWay Falls in Big Sur. Both are equally stunning: at Alamere, the water drops from a 30-foot cliff directly onto the beach with the mighty Pacific as a dramatic backdrop.
Unlike McWay Falls, however, Alamere Falls are located deep within a national park and not so easy to reach: the shortest route, from the Palomarin trailhead at the very southern end of the Park, involves a 9-mile return hike. Despite this, the Falls have become very popular. If you are making a day-trip from San Francisco you will certainly not be alone: unless you plan to arrive extremely early, the Falls will most likely be crawling with people by the time you arrive.
I chose not to visit the Falls as a day-hike and instead camped overnight in the Park. The nearest camping facilities, on the beach at Wildcat Camp, were fully booked so I stayed slightly inland at the less popular Glen Camp.
Alamere Falls are located at the south end of Wildcat Beach and can be reached most directly from the Palomarin trailhead at the very southern end of the Seashore. I parked at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, near the village of Olema, and hiked west along Bear Valley.
This initial park of the trail is relatively wide and flat and used frequently by mountain bikers. At the end of the Bear Valley Trail, after more then 3 miles and around two thirds of the way to the coast, the trail splits and there are multiple options. With the different trails, it can get confusing so make sure you bring a trail map. I continued on the Bear Valley route, which heads directly west and joins the Coastal Route after about a mile or so.
The Coastal Route runs parallel to the coastline for a long stretch of the Seashore and offers stunning views over the ocean. If you follow the trail south for a little more than 3 miles, you eventually see Wildcat Camp directly below. Follow the trail down to the campsite, from where you can access the beach. There is no official trail to Alamere Falls but it can be easily reached by walking south along the beach (i.e. turn left from the campsite). You should watch the tide because when I was hiking there were a couple of spots where the tide had reached the cliff and I had to make a small jump. I knew the tide was retreating though so that I would be able to return on the way back.
After visiting the Falls, I retraced my steps back to Wildcamp and then took the Stewart and Glen trails inland to Glen Camp. The facilities at the campsite are fairly basic but there is water and a toilet block. The next morning I followed the Glen Camp Loop trail north to rejoin with the Bear Valley Trail back to the Visitor Center.
Here is a link to a map of the hiking trails: