Thing to Do

Hike to Alamere Falls

White water cascading over grass-topped coastal bluffs to a sandy ocean beach with four people below
Alamere Falls is worth the trek, but make sure you're prepared for a long challenging day of hiking.

NPS / A. Kopshever

Distance:
13.2 miles (21.2 km) roundtrip from the Palomarin Trailhead
14.8 miles (23.8 km) roundtrip from the Bear Valley Trailhead
15.6 miles (25.1 km) roundtrip from the Five Brooks Trailhead

Alamere Falls is an incredibly popular hiking destination in Point Reyes National Seashore's Phillip Burton Wilderness. The falls are a dramatic sight as water cascades over a ~40 foot (~12 m) cliff onto a beautiful sandy beach. Bear in mind, getting there is no easy trek—a 13 mile (20 km) minimum round-trip hike is required, and you must time your visit to the falls with low tide. On weekends, and in the summer, the trailhead parking lots can fill up early in the morning. The best thing you can do to guarantee a safe, fun visit to the falls is to be prepared.

To get to Alamere Falls, you can start at one of three trailheads—Palomarin, Bear Valley, or Five Brooks. The following directions from any of these trailheads will bring you to Wildcat Campground. The last part of the journey, from Wildcat Campground to the base of the falls, is the same regardless of which trailhead you choose.

These route descriptions alone are not a substitute for a trail map. Print out the park's South District trail map (3,422 KB PDF) or Alamere Falls Map (3,375 KB PDF) before your visit, or pick one up at a visitor center on your way..

Always check current conditions before heading out into the park and familiarize yourself with park regulations. Please practice Leave No Trace principles.

Visit the park's Hiking at Point Reyes National Seashore page for hiking tips and information about trail etiquette and safety.

Visit the park's Trail Advisories and Closures page for current information about closed trails, trails blocked by trees, or other temporary hazards or advisories.

Please take note! There is NO park-sanctioned "Alamere Falls Trail." Many social media posts, websites, and guide books reference an "Alamere Falls Trail" (sometimes referred to as a "shortcut"). This is NOT a maintained trail, and poses many hazards to off-trail hikers—crumbling and eroding cliffs and lots of poison oak. Visitors who use this unmaintained trail may endanger themselves and rescuers, and damage park resources. On an almost weekly basis, visitors get hurt scrambling down the route leading to the top of the falls or sliding down the crumbly cliff-face to get to the beach, sometimes requiring the efforts of search and rescue teams. The National Park Service strongly advises visitors against using this unmaintained route. Please use the recommended routes described below to visit the falls.

Park Regulations

  • Take only pictures; leave only footprints: Almost everything one finds at Point Reyes is protected by law, including shells, rocks, fossils, flowers, and artifacts.
  • Please only travel on authorized trails, respect posted signs, and practice Leave No Trace principles when recreating in the park.
  • Bikes are prohibited on the Coast Trail. Bikes are permitted on the Stewart Trail and on the northern three miles of the Bear Valley Trail. Visit our Bicycle Riding page for more information.
  • Dogs are not permitted. Visit our Pets page to learn where pets are permitted at Point Reyes National Seashore.
  • Check current conditions before your visit. 
  • Horses and pack animals are permitted on most park trails, including the Coast Trail and the Stewart Trail. Horses are permitted on the Bear Valley Trail on weekdays, but are prohibited on most of the Bear Valley Trail on weekends and federal holidays. Please visit our Horse Riding page for more information.
  • Drones are not permitted anywhere in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Hiking Directions to Wildcat Beach

From Palomarin Trailhead

Follow the Coast Trail northwest as it meanders along an ocean cliff top for approximately one mile (1.6 km). The Coast Trail then heads inland and drops into a small valley before ascending switchbacks up the other side. Climb over a pass, and hike past a number of small ponds before reaching Bass Lake after 2.8 miles (4.5 km) of hiking. In another 0.6 miles (1 km) arrive at a view of Pelican Lake. Continuing on 0.8 miles (1.3 km) leads to the junction with the Ocean Lake Loop Trail. Stay right to remain on the Coast Trail as it heads a bit further inland through coastal scrub and forest, or turn left on to the Ocean Lake Loop Trail, which drops initially to pass by Ocean Lake, but then climbs steeply to reach the top of some coastal bluffs with views looking up and down the shoreline. Both routes reconnect after 1.1 miles (1.7 km). After this point you'll be back on the Coast Trail for a final 0.2 miles (0.3 km) to Wildcat Campground.

From Bear Valley Trailhead

Follow the relatively flat Bear Valley Trail south  for 3.1 miles (5 km) to the Glen Trail. Turn left onto the Glen Trail and begin climbing up the side of a ridge. After 0.6 miles (1 km), keep right to stay on the Glen Trail. After another 0.4 miles (0.6 km) keep left to stay on the Glen Trail. Hike for 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to the intersection with the Stewart Trail. Turn right and follow the Stewart Trail 1.2 miles (1.9 km) downhill to get to Wildcat Campground.

From Five Brooks Trailhead

Follow the Stewart Trail northwest for 0.3 miles (0.5 km) to the junction with the Olema Valley Trail. Keep right to stay on the Stewart Trail as it begins a long climb up the side of Inverness Ridge. After 0.8 miles (1.3 km), the Greenpicker Trail branches off to the right at a switchback. Hikers may wish to shorten their hike by 0.7 miles (1.2 km) by following the Greenpicker Trail to the top of the ridge, but be forewarned that the Greenpicker Trail is steeper than the Stewart Trail. Alternatively, continue on the Stewart Trail as it switchbacks 2.6 miles (4.2 km) up the side of the ridge to Fir Top, the highest location (1324 ft/404 m) along the southern end of Inverness Ridge. Due to the dense Douglas fir forests, there are no far-reaching views. Hikers on the Greenpicker Trail can return to the Stewart Trail at this location. Continue straight on the Stewart Trail as it descends 2.7 miles (4.3 km) from the top of the ridge to Wildcat Campground.

The Hike from Wildcat Beach to the Falls

A well-worn trail leads along the south side of Wildcat Campground to the beach. From there, walk south for 1.1 miles (1.7 km) during a low tide to reach the base of the falls. If you arrive at Wildcat Beach and find that the waves are reaching the base of the bluffs, do NOT attempt to walk to Alamere Falls. If the tide is heading out, you could wait until the water level is low enough to allow safe passage along the beach. Be prepared to wait a while. If the tide is coming in, you may wish to come back on a future date rather than waiting for the tide to peak and then retreat. Be aware of tides and surf conditions. Before you visit, check the tide predictions and the National Weather Service's Watches, Warnings & Advisories page to learn whether there are any active warnings about the surf.

Details

Allow at least 6.5 hours to hike from the Palomarin Trailhead to Alamere Falls or 7.5 hours from either the Bear Valley Trailhead or the Five Brooks Trailhead to Alamere Falls.

All ages.

Pets are prohibited on all trails that lead to Alamere Falls. Visit the park's Pets page to learn where pets are welcome at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.

Alamere Falls is a beautiful waterfall deep within the Phillip Burton Wilderness. The falls are a dramatic sight as water cascades over a ~40-foot-tall (~12 m) cliff onto the south end of Wildcat Beach. While no easy trek—a 13-mile (20 km) minimum round-trip hike is required—this spectacular spot is a popular—and a sometimes overcrowded—visitor draw.

The closest trailheads are the Palomarin Trailhead, the Bear Valley Trailhead and the Five Brooks Trailhead.

Directions to Bear Valley
Directions from Bear Valley to the Five Brooks Trailhead
Directions from Bear Valley to the Palomarin Trailhead

Please be aware that on weekends throughout the year and on many weekdays throughout the summer, the parking lot at the Palomarin Trailhead fills very early in the day. Visitors arriving late in the morning or in the afternoon may be turned away. The park will close the Palomarin area to further entry, potentially for several hours, when there are no more parking spaces available in the parking lot. Please observe all "No Parking" signs. If you wish to visit Bass Lake or other locations accessed via the Palomarin Trailhead, arrive early, or consider visiting mid-week.

Winter

The heaviest rainfall occurs in the winter months. Come prepared for rain and drizzle to possibly last for several days. More rain falls east of Inverness Ridge than on the west side. In between winter rains, it is often sunny, calm, and cool.

Spring

Most spring days are windy. Expect cool temperatures in March. By late May and early June, temperatures can be quite warm on the east side of Inverness Ridge.

Summer

Although there is very little rain during summer months, there is often dense fog. Patchy morning fog may burn off by mid-day. Afternoons are often sunny and warm with a light breeze inland. By contrast, the beaches and headlands are often 20 degrees cooler with heavy fogs common throughout the day in July, August and September.

Fall

The coastal areas of Point Reyes experience some of the clearest days in late September, October and early November. The occasional storm will start rolling through in late October, bringing clouds, wind, and rain. The strongest winds occur in November and December during occasional southerly gales.

Point Reyes National Seashore is open daily for day-hiking from 6 am to midnight. Overnight parking and camping is only permitted with a valid backcountry camping permit.

The walk along Wildcat Beach from Wildcat Campground to Alamere Falls may be impassible at high tide or during high surf conditions. Before you visit, check the tide predictions and the National Weather Service's Watches, Warnings & Advisories page to learn whether there are any active warnings about the surf.

Accessibility Information

Each of the three routes varies in length, difficulty and type of terrain. The route from Five Brooks via the Stewart Trail is the most consistently wide—it's a gravel and packed dirt path the entire way to Wildcat Campground. This route, however, gains and loses a significant amount of elevation as it climbs over a 1300-foot-tall ridge. The routes from Bear Valley and Palomarin follow old ranch roads which have significantly narrowed and/or degraded and have exposed roots and rocks and have become rutted in numerous locations. The last 1.1 miles (1.7 km) of the hike is on a sandy beach.  

Point Reyes National Seashore

Last updated: March 25, 2022