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Alamere Falls via Palomarin Trailhead

Bolinas, California

based on 53 reviews



13.54 miles

Elevation Gain

1614 ft

Route Type



Added by Jake Young

Head out to Alamere Falls via Palomarin Trailhead located near Bolinas, California. This trail will take you to a 40’ waterfall (tidefall) on the coast of Point Reyes National Seashore.

Alamere Falls is the tallest waterfall in the bay area. It is known as a tide fall because it empties directly into the Pacific Ocean. This is extremely unique because there are only 34 tide falls in the world and two in California, the other being McWay Falls in Big Sur.  Enjoy stunning views of the pacific combined with varying terrain through forests, tall brush, and exposed dirt trails. If you hike to falls during the summer, take a swim in Bass Lake on the way back to the trailhead.

Best Time to Hike Alamere Falls

The trail is open year-round unless closed due to special restrictions (see nps.gov). The parking area can get very crowded, especially on weekends, so best to get there before 8am (and on a weekday) if possible.

The Hike

The hike to Alamere falls is a 13.5 mile out-and-back trail through the Point Reyes National Seashore. The trailhead is located in Bolinas, California just about an hour north of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge. Please note, dogs and drones are NOT permitted on this. 

Start at the Palomarin Trailhead located in the parking lot near the restrooms and head out on the Coast Trail. After about 2 minutes on the trail, you'll see a map on your right that lays out the trail to the falls as well as a few campground (Sky, Wildcat, etc.). Don't be afraid to take a picture of the map if you're worried about getting lost or bring a copy of the map from the NPS website (it's never a bad idea to have a paper reference). From there, the trail continues on the Coast Trail and is pretty straight forward as you head to the falls. For the first couple of miles, the trail is fairly exposed and can get warm on sunny days. The second half of the hike prior to reaching the coast is covered and wooded.

Approximately 3 miles into the hike you'll see signs for Bass Lake. This is a great spot to stop for a second and get drink or snack. Keep this place in mind as you may want to jump in to cool off on the way back! From here, you'll continue on the Coast Trail until you pass Wildcat Lake and arrive at Wildcat Camp for a total of 5.5 miles. 

From Wildcat, you'll hike south for approximately 1.25 miles along the beach back the way you came. It's important that you check the tide levels before heading out on this trail to make sure that you're going while the tide is heading out and is sufficiently low. Visit NOAA.com for current tide projection for Point Reyes National Seashore.

To get back the parking lot, simply head back to Wildcat Camp and then hike back along the Coast Trail. 

Trail Shortcut

There is an optional shortcut to this hike, but it is NOT sanctioned or maintained by the National Park Service. There is a small trail off the left of the Coast Trail when heading to the falls. with shrubbery and potential for contact with poison oak. As you get to the top of the falls, there are two steep parts that require some scrambling. The first takes you just above the main part of the falls, where there are a few smaller waterfalls. From here, head further down the trail to get to the beach; this is where the main waterfall is located. This last descent is slippery with loose gravel and can get very crowded at times making this a very challenging area. 

Keep in mind that to help maintain the natural area around the falls and to ensure a safer hike for you and anyone with you, the National Park service recommends that you hike to Wildcat Camp and then take the beach south back toward the waterfall. Once you get to the falls, take in the scenery, snap a few photos, and refuel, then you'll have to scramble back up to the Coast Trail and head back the way you came.

What to Bring

  • The 10 essentials for hiking
  • Make sure you have enough water for a day hike: 2-3 Liters as well as enough snacks 
  • A large portion of this trail is unshaded, so you'll want to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  • There may be poison oak and ticks along the route, so long pants are preferable


If you wish to make this an overnight adventure and camp at Wildcat Camp, you will need to get permits online or visit a Point Reyes National Seashore Visitor's Center. Wildcat Camp has (3) up to 4-person campsites, (2) up to 6-person campsites, and (3) 7-25 people group campsites.

Post Adventure

If you're looking to grab a bite after this long trek, head to Mill Valley, specifically Avatars for some Punjabi burritos.

Getting There

From Shoreline Highway, head south on Olema Bolinas Rd for 1.3 miles. Then, turn left to stay on Olema Bolinas Rd for 0.5 miles. Next, turn right on Mesa Rd for 4.5 miles until you reach the parking area. 


  • Remember to go early or during a weekday to get a parking spot. Cars that are parked improperly are often ticketed.
  • The last mile driving up to the parking lot on Mesa Rd in Bolinas has many potholes, so higher clearance vehicle with AWD is preferred
  • Palomarin Trailhead has pit toilets and a trash can
  • Remember to check the tide levels before hiking from Wildcat Camp to Alamere Falls to ensure a lower tide and more accessible coastline
  • This is not a family-friendly or dog-friendly hike given the restrictions, distance, and full-day of hiking 
  • If you want to make this an overnight trip, check the NPS website for updates on available campgrounds as well as permits 


Seeing Alamere Falls is truly unique experience...after all, there are only 34 tide falls in the world! If you head out on this trail, make sure you give yourself plenty of time, check the tide levels, and please practice Leave No Trace principles

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Alamere Falls via Palomarin Trailhead Reviews

The drive is a bit out of the way but it is a fun hike! Depending on the rainfall during the year- it could be a slight trickle or a gushing waterfall. The climb down to the fall isnt that scary but you do have to use caution.

Getting here is a trek so make sure you fuel Ip on gas and fuel up on food and water. Make sure you bring proper gear: sunblock, shoes( not sandals or high heels), hat, long sleeve pants, shorts, swim wear Start this hike early as it does get crowded and parking can be tough. I started 9 am and go home at about 4pm. Just a long drive from SF, the finding parking, and then starting the hike. But it is worth it as it is my favorite hikes in the Bay Area.

Seriously one of the most stunning and interactive hikes. Lots of range between inclines and declines so you don’t get bored, and a lot to look at when you’re on the trail. I loved the little shortcut we took that actually brought the hike down to just about 8 miles. There’s a clear indication and arrow that points to the shortcut in the last leg of the hike. We had the beach all to ourselves for about an hour! Would recommend to anyone :)

Be prepared to get muddy!

The hike is definitely not easy (around 10 miles). I would strongly recommend anyone to gear up for the hike with proper shoes and attire. Have a backpack with water, food. The force of water in the falls is not too much. You can also plan for a falls shower. Start early and come back early. The return hike took us almost 2 hours (We are average hikers). So, don't start very late. We did not encounter any wildlife. But check other's comments. I met these wonderful people on my way. This made my hike interesting. Try to have company. Regarding parking, I went at 3 PM. I got in the main parking lot. But I have heard people complaining about the parking. Embrace yourself for a 2-mile non-friendly off-road experience. My Porsche would have cried loud if it had a mouth:p.

Great waterfalls,wonderful beach.05/20/2018

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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