Alamere Falls, a coastal waterfall in Point Reyes National Seashore, is the one waterfall hike near San Francisco that everyone seems to know about and wants to do. I admit that I didn’t quite get what all the fuss was about when I began researching it, but after trekking 17.7 miles out in the Phillip Burton Wilderness, now I’m more like, “Oooh,” as my stepdad Bill would say, eyebrows raised with a slightly wondrous and enlightened expression.
Alamere Falls is one of two major coastal waterfalls, also known as tide falls, near San Francisco. The other is McWay Falls, that instagram-famous waterfall 150 miles south in Big Sur. But…you can’t hike to the base of that one.
What makes Alamere Falls special is it’s inimitable nature—there’s just nothing else remotely like it. It’s a waterfall. That flows into the ocean! And you can hike right up to it! You’ve got views from bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and a mile-long beach walk to the falls. And then there are the wildflowers and creatures you see along the way: Douglas iris, bush lupine, banana slugs, and newts.
Sure there’s controversy. A unmaintained spur trail leads to the top of the waterfall, and some people choose to scramble down that way to reach it. I took the spur and had a look down the eroded and rutted route—wow. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Park rangers have removed a sign that used to mark this route and now they post a warning on the Point Reyes National Seashore’s website about the dangers of the route and damage it can cause to the cliffs and plants.
The good news is that reaching Alamere Falls is very doable without taking the spur, and arguably safer. The route ends up being 13.8 miles round trip on the Coast Trail starting from the Palomarin Trailhead. Trails are well-signed and easy to follow. You can also reach the falls from two other trailheads in Point Reyes National Seashore, but this is the shortest of the three. To sweeten the deal, Wildcat Campground sits above the beach, right next to the route you take to Alamere Falls. You can reserve a site to break up the distance and linger a bit more near the ocean. Not bad at all. Stay tuned for my upcoming write-up for it on Modern Hiker!
Have a great weekend :)
In the StoryCorp podcast 537: Never Say Goodbye, Danny and Annie Perasa from Brooklyn, New York talk about their marriage in a hilarious and heart-warming interview. My favorite quote, noted below, is from Danny, who passed away in 2006. I really recommend listening to the entire interview, which starts at 2:10. Enjoy :)