An Alamere Falls hike is an outstanding introduction to the beauty of Point Reyes Peninsula. Here is everything you need to know to make this hike memorable.
Alamere Falls plunges down a steep cliff located on the east side of Point Reyes National Seashore. The National Seashore is a stunningly beautiful place to visit, with hiking trails that offer vistas of the Pacific Ocean and coastal headlands.
The trail to Alamere Falls falls and the nearby lighthouse are two of the most popular hiking destinations on the peninsula. This trail is ideal for a beautiful day hike. It is easy to follow and offers some of the best views on the peninsula. The route provides hiking opportunities for everyone, from serious hikers to families with children.
The challenging hiking trail leads to an overlook that provides expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, Tomales Bay and the mouth of San Francisco Bay. The hike passes through coastal prairie, along the edge of a bluff overlooking the beach and through beautiful coastal forests.
This walk offers outstanding views each step of the way. From the broad, grassy meadow filled with wildflowers to the overlook that provides beautiful views of the ocean and dense forests. The diverse scenery and the variety of plant and animal life make this hike interesting for hikers of all skill levels.
The landscape changes as you hike along, from coastal prairie on the flat top of a ridge to an amazing bluff overlooking a sandy beach. The trail passes through thick forests, filled with big leaf maples, Douglas firs and cypress trees.
This hike visits a waterfall that plunges over a steep cliff in a dramatic display of nature’s power.
Alamere Falls makes this one of the best hikes on California’s northern coast. Alamere Falls is a spectacular waterfall on the Alamere Creek. The falls are located on Point Reyes’ famous hiking trail.
HISTORY OF ALAMERE FALLS TRAIL
The Native American Miwok Indians originally inhabited the Point Reyes Peninsula. In 1815, Spanish explorer Lieutenant Manuel de Oyarvido was the first white man to visit Point Reyes. After this, there was an influx of white settlers who began farming and ranching at Point Reyes.
By 1968, there were a number of dairy farms located in the surrounding areas that produced approximately 15 million gallons of milk annually. At that time, there were approximately 400 dairy cows at Point Reyes.
The first Alamere Falls trail was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1939. The trail to the waterfall was originally a dirt footpath that ran across a farm field and along the coastal bluffs.
In 1990, the National Park Service began to improve this trail with construction of a new 1.5 mile long hiking trail to Alamere Falls. This improvement project also included work on the Coastal Trail and other trails in Point Reyes National Seashore, all of which were part of an $8 million project funded by Congress in 1984.
HIKING ALAMERE FALLS TRAIL
If you are thinking of embarking on an Alamere Falls hike, you’ll find that there are many things you need to know beforehand. For example, that the hike is strenuous and that it is important to be properly prepared. In addition, you should know about the different trails that can be taken in order to do this hike safely.
Hiking this trail is so much fun and very rewarding once you get to the top. Many people find that this is a great place to do photography because of the amazing view. This hike is not an easy one so if you are thinking about hiking it, you should be in good shape and well prepared. The scenery on the way up to Alamere Falls is lovely, but when you get to the falls, it is breathtaking.
There are picnic tables at the top where hikers can rest or have lunch or snacks after doing the hike.
Which Trailhead Should I Use?
There are four different trails that lead to this waterfall. They are the Coastal Trail, the Arch Trail and Alamere Falls Trail.
The Coastal Trail is a 4.5 mile trail that leads from Drakes Beach to Bear Valley Visitor Center. It passes through coastal prairie, thick forest and coastal sand dunes. During your hike you will see ocean cliffs, beaches and coastal meadows filled with wildflowers. You can start this trail at any of the picnic areas along the coast of Point Reyes National Seashore or at any of four visitor centers located throughout Point Reyes National Seashore.
The Arch Trail is a 2.5 mile trail that is reserved for hikers only. It leads from Bear Valley Visitor Center to Arch Rock, a natural arch located on the edge of the ocean cliffs north of town. Along this trail you will see coastal prairie, forest, and open dunes covered with wildflowers. You can start this trail at any of the picnic areas along the coast of Point Reyes National Seashore or at any of four visitor centers located throughout Point Reyes National Seashore.
Palomarin Trailhead is a 12.2 mile round-trip hike that leads to Palomarin Beach. The trailhead can be accessed by hiking from the Bear Valley Visitor Center and parking in the nearest picnic area. From there, you will hike through a meadow and then along the beach to Palomarin Beach. Along this trail you will see coastal prairie, forest, open dunes and a freshwater pond that is home to many birds.
Alamere Falls Trail is a 1.5 mile trail that leads from the Alamere Falls parking lot to a picnic area at the top of the falls. Along the way, you will see Coastal Prairie, coastal sand dunes, and coastal bluffs. Note: There is no official trail for Alamere Falls. This is a short walk to the falls from the parking lot.
Below is a video showing the area at the base of the falls during high tide.
Which One Is Best For a Day Hike?
All three of these trails can be done as a day hike, but most people find that doing the Coastal Trail takes a little more time. The Alamere Falls Trail is easy to do, but if you want to picnic at the top of the falls, you will need approximately two hours.
The Arch Trail takes about two hours each way and is great for photography. However, in order to do this trail, one must start from Bear Valley Visitor Center.
If you want to make a day of it, I recommend the Palomarin Trail. Hike from Bear Valley Visitor Center to the beach and then back. This will take you about 7 hours. However, you should note that the Bear Valley Visitor Center does not open until 8:30 am and closes around 4 pm depending on the season, so keep this in mind if you are planning on hiking before or after these times.
The Lighthouse at Alamere Falls Hiking Area
The Alamere Falls Lighthouse is one of the few remaining lighthouses in California that is still functioning. Hiking to the lighthouse is a difficult 4.5-mile round-trip hike that takes approximately six hours. However, it may be worth setting aside an entire day to do it because of the amazing views you will get along the way as well as at the top.
Before you head out on any of these hikes, please check Point Reyes Alerts for any trail closures or safety issues that may arise during your visit.
Hiking Tips and Safety
This trail has steep grades and is not recommended for children or those who have difficulty hiking long distances.
This hike can be hot and sometimes dangerous due to poison oak, stinging nettle, rattlesnakes, and ticks. There are creek crossings that you may encounter when doing the hike. You’ll need to wear boots and gaiters for this hike.
Make sure you bring water, food and a hat with you since there are no shops or restaurants where the trailhead is located. Make sure to inform someone of your plans before you begin the hike.
Below is a list of essentials for the trip.
HOW TO GET TO THE ALAMERE FALLS TRAILHEAD
This trailhead can be reached by car from Route 1 in four miles, following the signs for Alamere Falls Trailhead.
The drive from San Francisco takes about 2 hours to get to this trailhead on a good day. From Fairfax take Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and go north toward Point Reyes Station. Turn right at Olema Valley Road and follow signs for Bear Valley Road.
The trailhead is located at Alamere Falls parking lot. This lot is located near the Point Reyes National Seashore’s visitor center, about 11 miles from Olema Valley Road and Highway 1. From Route 1, take the Bear Valley Road exit and travel to the top of a hill where you’ll see a sign for Alamere Falls Trailhead. Turn right at this sign and follow the road to a parking lot that has space for 20 vehicles.
Here is an aerial view from a drone by Christopher Lau.
Commonly Asked Questions about Alamere Falls
Before you plan your trip here are a few common questions people have about Alamere Falls.
Is Alamere Falls Hike Kid Friendly?
No, as it is very dangerous and is only for adults.
Can You Go Up To The Waterfall?
No, Alamere Falls Trail only goes to the bottom of the waterfall. This is private land owned by the ranchers. However, you can view the falls from above on Coast Trail which runs parallel with Highway 1.
Which Is The Best Time To Take This Hike?
The best time to do this hike is early in the morning and late in the afternoon from late spring through early autumn. Make sure to check out our post on weather conditions for Point Reyes National Seashore for more detailed information about when it’s best to go hiking.
Is Alamere Falls Hike Dog Friendly?
No, dogs are not allowed on this hike.
Is There Parking Nearby?
Yes, there is a parking lot near the trailhead. You will need to pay $10 for a parking pass which you can get in the visitor center.
How Far Is Alamere Falls From San Francisco?
This trail is about 2 hours and 45 minutes from San Francisco via Point Reyes Station or around 2 hours and 28 minutes via Olema Valley Road.
Is There A Shuttle To The Trailhead?
No, there is no shuttle to the trailhead.
How Hard Is The Alamere Falls Hike?
This is a strenuous hike. Make sure to check out our post on how hard Point Reyes National Seashore hikes are.
How Many Miles Is The Alamere Falls Trail?
Palomarin Trailhead it is 6.5 miles one way.
Can I Get To The Lighthouse From The Trail?
Yes, the Alamere Falls Trail ends at a viewpoint of the lighthouse.
How Long Does It Take To Get To The Lighthouse From The Trailhead?
The hike to the lighthouse takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
What Should I Bring To The Alamere Falls Hike?
There are no marked trailheads so make sure to bring a map with you. You can buy one at the visitor center or print off one beforehand.
In winter, you might want to bring a jacket. It can get cold and windy. There is also no shade on the hike and Alamere Falls is exposed to the ocean winds.
This hike is rocky, slippery and has a lot of sand. Good hiking boots are absolutely necessary. You will also want to wear long pants for this hike since there are ticks in California and poison oak on this trail.
There are mosquitos at the falls so make sure to bring insect repellent with you. Deet based repellents work best.
There are multiple streams along the way but make sure to bring your own water.
Make sure to bring a hat and sunscreen.
While you can see the waterfall from the road, there are three great vantages on this hike. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time and battery on your camera.
Safety First Aid Kit
Hiking this trail is so much fun and very rewarding once you get to the top. Many people find that this is a great place to do photography because of the amazing view. This hike is not an easy one so if you are thinking about hiking it, you should be in good shape and well prepared.
The hike to Alamere Falls is a strenuous one so make sure to have plenty of food and snacks with you.
More Details About Alamere Falls
Address: Alamere Falls Trailhead, Point Reyes National Seashore, CA 94956, USA.
Address: Bear Valley Visitor Center, Point Reyes National Seashore, CA 94956, USA.
ALAMERE FALLS TRAILHEAD HOURS OF OPERATION
The trailhead is open from 7 AM to 7 PM, except on national holidays. The parking area is closed overnight and for day-use only.
PARKING RATES FOR ALAMERE FALLS TRAILHEAD
$10 per day or $30 per week, payable at the entrance station. Annual passes are also available at the entrance station or online at Recreation.gov.