Backpack to Point Reyes' Wildcat Camp

San Francisco Palomarin Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    11.4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1945 Feet

Bathrooms
Beach
Easy Parking
Lake
Scenic

Permits are required! Check http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyo... for more info on getting permits and regulations regarding the campground. The campground is located on an open meadow on a bluff overlooking the ocean. The distance and view make this a great backpacking trip for novice and experienced backpackers alike.

In order to make this trip possible, go to recreation.gov and make a reservation for Wildcat Camp (available year-round). On your way to the trailhead, make sure to stop by the Bear Valley Visitor Center to grab your camping permit. For more information, visit: http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/camping.htm.

Getting there from the Bear Valley Visitor Center is easy- follow HWY 1 south for 9 miles and turn right onto Olema-Bolinas Rd. Keep left to stay on Olema-Bolinas Rd, turn right onto Mesa Rd until you reach the parking lot at the end of the road. You'll begin by wandering through a eucalyptus grove and emerging onto numerous bluffs overlooking the ocean. This hike will hug the coastline for miles while snaking its way through densely packed flora and hidden coastal lakes. Watch for poison oak- it's hidden all along the trail.

Elevation/Mileage: Wildcat Camp is 5.7 from the Palomarin Trailhead. When you're back at your car after your trip, you'll have hiked 1,945ft of elevation change over the course of 11.4 miles.

Additional Details:

  • Each site is equipped with a picnic table, charcoal grill, and a bear locker
  • Campground has two bathrooms, garbage cans, and potable water
  • No campfires or dogs allowed
  • 5 minute walk to the beach from camp
  • 2 mile roundtrip hike along the beach to Alamere Falls from camp

Pack List

  • Camping permit
  • Map - I recommend the Tom Harrison Point Reyes map
  • First Aid Kit - always
  • Backpack
  • Tent
  • Headlamp
  • Sleeping bag/pad
  • Rain gear - you're camping at the ocean...it's always wet
  • Warm clothes/layers - coastal breeze is chilly
  • Tide chart if planning to hike along beach to Alamere Falls
  • Food for 2-5 days - max length of stay is 5 days
  • Camera (optional)
  • Charcoal to operate grill (optional)
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Reviews

Overall rating: 

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I backpacked to wildcat camp in early December and it got really cold at night, but it was definitely worth it! You're right on the coast with a 200 foot walk to the ocean. The campsites are shielded by a cliff, and there is freshwater, garbage bins, and bathrooms available. As well as bbq pits at each campsite. The hike is beautiful, with amazing canopies and some views of the coast later in the hike. Loved this adventure!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

This location is great since it's close to the city and sometimes you want to get away but only have a few days. The downside is that the trails can get really crowded (especially on weekends) and the campsites fill up quickly so you usually have to plan far in advance. I like this location for beginner backpackers since there is a toilet and running water on site. I feel like it's a good introduction to backpacking but still includes some luxuries that people can be scared to go without. I went in the fall and the weather couldn't have been better!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

We hiked from the Bear Valley ranger station to Wildcat in Mid-Sept and it was a relatively easy hike through the woods. Roundtrip was 17 miles - we took a side trip along the coastal trail. The views from wildcat are awesome. When booking, select one of the camp sites along the cliff -- the sites are still protected from wind. We had campsite 006 and had our own private cliff point overlooking the ocean. We saw amazing sunsets and sunrises. Also, each campsite has a picnic table. The bathrooms at wildcat are maintained, but when we were there they were packed with flies. This campsite is a true gem along the pacific coast.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

We camped here in March 2015 and there was perfect weather for the hike in/out. If you are hoping to see some wildlife this is the place to be! Saw whales from our campsite and later watched them feeding just offshore from the lookout point down the trail. There was a red tailed hawk hunting above our camp that caught a snake. Ospreys were nesting nearby. A harbor seal followed us (in the water) as we walked down the beach to Alamere falls. In the middle of the night we woke to the eerily beautiful sound of coyotes echoing off the hills. Also, a big thank you to whoever the angel was that left us cold beer in the food locker.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Added to my next To Do List! What time during the year would you advice is best??

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Find a camp site that hasn't been booked months is advance is a huge challenge. Anyone have any tips on grabbing a campsite as a walk-in?

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Miranda LeconteStoryteller

U.S. Forest Service dweeb who can't seem to stay inside (@mirandaleconte)

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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