Point Reyes National Seashore is a vast & beautiful protected coastline area in Northern California’s Marin county. Home to many beautiful beaches and ocean vistas, it also the sight where Alamere Falls is nestled, an exquisite 40 foot waterfall that falls right into the beach. At 14 km (9 miles), as with any travel or hike, the joy and beauty is to be found in the journey, as much as the destination.
This is one unforgettable experience, where the view is certainly worth the hike. Here’s a video compilation of our day hike to Alamere Falls.
You might have to work up a sweat to get to the falls, in terms of distance, there are pockets of the hike where there are long lines and the pathway will get backed up. The first half of the trail is open & exposed, so it can get hot on sunny days. The second half of the trail is covered and through a forest.
The safer and less challenging route (albeit slightly longer) is the coastal trail to Wildcat Camp, then head south along the beach to reach Alamere Falls. We were prepared to go this route, and checked with the park rangers, who given the weather conditions on that day, pointed us to the trail pathway below. If you do go this route, keep in mind there are 2 steep descents: one that leads to a smaller set of waterfalls, followed by a second more steeper descent to the bigger waterfall. I recommend plenty of caution if you do go this route: There is plenty of loose gravel here, you’ll want to give people plenty of way, and also as pointed out by our readers, given increased traffic to Alamere Falls lately, this route is more prone to habitat erosion. Slipping on the cliffs or by the waterfalls here could mean death. The day we hiked, we were in good company with 2 big groups of middle school field trips, lead by park rangers on this route. Exercise plenty of caution on the cliff edges & be mindful of coastal erosion, check in with the park rangers, and choose responsibly which route you will go. Here’s additional information from the Outbound collective and National Parks Service on the trail.
Plan for 2 hours each way. Additionally, you’ll want to spend a good hour or longer by the falls. This is a fantastic way to spend 6-8 hours the great California outdoors.
8 things you can expect & what you should know
Alamere Falls is a popular trail, which means it can get crowded
Thanks to Instagram, Alamere Falls has surged in popularity, and is no longer a deserted spot like it used to be. Expect slowdown at certain junctions, owing to foot traffic on narrow one way paths. Give people plenty of way.
Parking lots will fill up early.
We arrived by 9 45 AM, and the lots were packed, we had to park an extra 0.5 mile away from the trailhead. Either arrive super early or account for the extra 0.5 mile walk (+10-15 mins).
Washrooms at the start of the trail will have insanely long lines.
I recommend stopping by Stinson or a nearby town on the way, and bring your own hand sanitizer.
Go on a sunny day, if the weather turns, it’ll get cold real fast.
The first half of the trail has no shade, the second half will be through a redwood forest – so you get a good balance of shade & sun.
Take your lunch/snacks with you
The nearest restaurants are in Stinson, I recommend taking plenty of sandwiches, energy chews and protein bars.
Trail is kid friendly, but not dog friendly
I saw a lot of families with kids, and we happened to go on the hike with 2 big sets of middle school kids on a field trip.
High tide by the Falls at the base
As the tide rises, the water comes pretty far up to the waterfall. Each time I attempted to capture long exposure shots with my tripod, I got drenched. I saw a lot of people get their shoes & clothes wet, and shoes almost got swept into the ocean at one point. So be careful watch out for the tide!
The pathway back can also be equally crowded – we spent a good 1 hour waiting our turn to make our way back up.
The way back is just as scenic as the way there.
With a chance to see beautiful sunsets.
Planning Your Visit
- Good for: Families, Children, Couples, Solo, Hiking & Outdoors, Coastal Landscapes
- What to Take: Sunscreen, hats, hiking boots/shoes, Water, food (lunch & snacks).
- Hygiene: Insect repellant, hand sanitizer, toilet paper. Carry all your plastic waste back with you.
Alamere Falls is spectacular and Point Reyes National Seashore is awe-inspiring. This is a quintessential Northern California hike, and makes for a perfect day trip.
Also published on Medium.