Hike to Alamere Falls

San Francisco Palomarin Trailhead

Added by Jake Young

Hike to a beautiful and rare waterfall (tidefall), plummeting 40ft until it reaches the ocean. 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.

The hike to Alamere falls is ~8.4 mile out-and-back. Start at the Palomarin Trailhead located in the parking lot near the restrooms. 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 (it never hurts to have a reference). From there, the trail connects with 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.

When you reach the coast, the trail becomes very narrow and steep. You'll often notice a little traffic jam as people figure out how to navigate their way down. There are two steep parts, the first takes you just above the main part of the falls, where there are a few smaller waterfalls. Once you've had a chance to check it out, head further down the trail to get to the beach; this is where the main waterfall is located. On this last descent, give the people ahead of you a little space. There's lots of loose gravel and people coming from the opposite direction, which makes the trail a bit crowded. When you get to the beach, you'll realize why you trekked 4+ miles and waited behind a line of people for good reason - it's freaking awesome! Take in the scenery, snap a few photos, and refuel, then it's back on the trail the way you came. If you want to cool off on the way back, stop at Bass Lake and go for a swim!

For a safer, less challenging route (minus the additional distance), you can hike the coastal trail to Wildcat Camp, then head south along the beach to reach Alamere Falls. 

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

This hike is NOT dog friendly.

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Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

8.4 Miles

Rating:

Features:

Bathrooms
Lake
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers

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How to Get There

16 days ago

Long Hike, but amazing outcome

This hike took about 2 1/2 hours to get to the waterfall and then about 3 to get back, however it was completely worth it. It is rare to see a waterfall flowing into the ocean.

16 days ago

3 months ago

Good But Garbage Everywhere

Disgusting amounts of napkins from people obviously peeing along the way. It's really gross and it's infuriating to think of how many people are disrespecting this place. The waterfall in nice if you can get there early before the hordes. We went early and on our way out we passed hundreds of gangs of city folk trying to get there. Most of them unprepared, no backpacks, with small children, no wonder they have nowhere to put there garbage

3 months ago

4 months ago

Great Nature Walk. Start Early!

This is more of a nature walk than a hike. Ever so slight grades most of the way. The turn off for the falls is difficult to see, so using a pedometer or gps for location helps, as the turn off is not marked. Occasionally, hikers build an arrow out of rocks. Very cool! Consider starting early side (7am), as the falls get busy, especially if you want good photography without a lot of people. The who hike with an hour at the falls is roughly a four hour affair.

4 months ago

4 months ago

Lovely hike, Falls are unmarked

Just had a wonderful little mid-week hike. Per the other reviews, it's a great hike, very varying scenery and temperatures, etc. The one thing I wanted to mention is the turn-off to the Falls themselves. When we walked, there was literally no marking, anywhere, at all. We missed them completely, walked at least another 2 miles on the main trail. When we turned back, at which point the volume of hikers had increased substantially, the side passage to the Falls was being frequented. In fact, as we returned from the falls, someone had re-made the "rock arrow" to point at where they are. TLDR; if you are going at non-peak hours, make sure you pay attention to distance traveled, as it's potentially completely unmarked.

4 months ago

4 months ago

Beautiful, Busy Hike

Even with big crowds (cars were parked more than a mile down the gravel road) this hike is well worth the effort. Absolutely spectacular coastal views, and the falls are phenomenal. You should definitely scale down to the beach, and bathe in the cascading water! Bring plenty of water and pack a picnic for the beach or stop at Bass Lake on the way back. The majority of the climb is in the first two miles over a series of switchbacks, once you reach Bass Lake it's a cruise to the coast.

4 months ago

5 months ago

Awesome Hike

I did this hike this morning and even though it was overcast and foggy it was still incredibly beautiful. We were walking right along the coast and could see the beach which was amazing. We did miss the turn off for the Alamere falls tail and had to turn back. We took the coast trail all the way down and saw this ominous looking arrow that someone made out of rocks... Well we didn't listen to the arrow and kept walking. Long story short, follow the mysterious arrows made out of rocks! Also the trail down to the falls looked at first as it was going to be very narrow and full of poison oak, but it widened out and was not bad at all. It was not as unkept as I thought it'd be from reading other reviews. Also it was very cold when we got down to the falls by the ocean. I recommended to bring lots of layers! One of my favorite hikes of done!

5 months ago

6 months ago

Beautiful Hike

Did this trip based on the comments and the trail was beautiful since we were along the coast. Our group did get lost when we ended up passing by the Alameres Falls sign (covered in graffiti) and was also unmaintained (rumors of poison oak). So we ended up a mile out past the location and when we got to the top of a cliff we could see the Falls a mile back. So fair warning if you see the sign for Ocean Lake Loop then you have gone too far. The trail was great though especially in the morning when there were a lot of clouds

6 months ago

6 months ago

Beautiful but...

The hike was beautiful and a good distance. I didn't get to finish the hike down to the falls due to a hazardous and unkept trail sign for the trail. As I was hiking back, other hikers had told me that there was poison oak on the way down the path and it would be best to come back another time fully covered.

6 months ago

7 months ago

Get There Early!

Awesome hike and great falls. It's a lot of fun scrambling down the rocks at the end to get to the beach too. Definitely get there early or go at off-peak times if you don't like crowds!

7 months ago

7 months ago

A great escape!

A great well marked trail (sometimes too well marked due to crowds) up and down with plenty of sunshade and shade. The end result is worth it all! Be alert when climbing down the end of the trial due to potential foot traffic jams and loose gravelly spots. Sadly, I don;t think dogs are allowed on this trial hence the 4 stars instead of 5. *Always double check your gear, the weather and online resources for updated details on any adventure*

7 months ago

7 months ago

Beautiful Tidefall, Lots of People

I hiked to Alamere Falls on a bluebird Saturday which followed a rainy Friday. It was the perfect storm for the most crowded trail I've ever experienced. I arrived at 8AM, which I'd recommend for anyone going on the weekend. The hike in was relatively quiet, and the falls had a dozen or so people already at them. I thought that was busy, but it was nothing compared to the hundreds of people I passed on the hike back out. The hike is pretty, and the falls are beautiful, but head to this one either on an early morning or a week day.

7 months ago

8 months ago

Awesome Experience!

Beautiful excursion that my wife and I completed with a purpose. Trail is clean and gives great workout. Eating lunch and the beach with the sounds of the water all around us was very gratifying. We'd recommend this trail to anyone who appreciates good company and means to accomplishment!

8 months ago

8 months ago

Help Clean Up The Trail!

Great hike with a beautiful finish. Start early so you can enjoy the beach and catch a nap. The only disappointment is that the trail is very high traffic; mostly with people who have never heard of "leave no trace". We picked up and packed out almost 15lbs of garbage. Shoes, socks, sandwich bags, underwear,food waste, and more. Bring a glove, bring a bag, and help keep this trail and beach beautiful!

8 months ago

8 months ago

Alamere Falls

Wonderful hike with a perfect finish. My wife, teenage son and 17 month infant did this together. The un-maintained portion is not that rough. We were able to carry our baby in his backpack through this area with no problems. If you can, make a day of it... Watch the sunset and enjoy the falls. It was a truly magnificent experience. If you don't stay at the falls, there is a a wonderful little beach in the town of Bolinas right outside of the trailhead entrance.

8 months ago

9 months ago

wowww

The turnoff to Alamere Falls is actually really easy to miss. We were caught up in conversation on the Coast trail and didn't see the mini sign on the left (also it has a ton of graffiti on it which doesn't help with visibility), and it's a pretty small gap between the bushes. We were pretty much almost to Wildcat camp before we asked someone for directions and were told to turn around. So keep your eyes peeled! Other than that--really beautiful hike with varied scenery. Awesome weather on a spring day. Highly recommend.

9 months ago

Fantastic Day Hike

Five hour round trip (we took our time, you can definitely do it in way less). Fantastic hike about an hour north of the Golden Gate. Windy road to get to the trailhead (if you're coming from the south) and last mile of the road is gravel. Decent amount of parking space, but always better to start early. Trail begins with spectacular views of the ocean from high above the cliffs - you are exposed to the sun for the first half of the hike. Second half of the hike is mostly wooded and covered. No steep uphills or downhills until the very end by the waterfall. Be careful here: use all fours, common sense, and you'll be fine :) The waterfall is about 40 feet high, located on a pretty beach, and drains into the ocean which makes this fall unique. The water is cold but very refreshing (can't keep me out of the water). Take your time at the beach and soak it in. It's a really nice reward! Bring a snack/lunch for the beach, check weather for Bolinas, CA before you go, wear sunscreen, wear good walking/hiking shoes, and pack water (duh)!

9 months ago

10 months ago

Dogs

No dogs allowed! We went on this app and the link and nothing said no dogs allowed but when we got there the ranger handling parking would not let us in with them. They are not allowed on the trail which we drove two hours to go to. We found another one to go to clearly not as amazing as everyone says this is but I wish that it has stated that somewhere when giving all the information

10 months ago

11 months ago

super close to the city and yet it feels a million miles away. great day hike, just make sure there isn't too much fog!

11 months ago

about 1 year ago

Multiple ecosystems, vistas galore, excellent chance of whales

Alamere Falls is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Bay Area, and sees slightly less daily foot traffic than the Gold Gate Bridge. Despite its busyness, the hike from the Palomarin trailhead is nothing short of delightful. Things get intermediate when you hit the cliffs to climb down to the beach and the waterfall. Expect a backup on the single person trail that diverges from the Coast Trail down to the massive bluffs above the water. Be prepared to wait to climb down and to climb back up when your day is done. Plan for at least 2 hours to hike back to the parking lot. The weather is highly changeable, with the marine layer rolling in and dropping the temperature 20 degrees without warning. Camping can be found a few miles north at Wildcat, and is enjoyable in any season with the right gear. If you take this trail in late fall, you may just catch a glimpse of whales migrating to Baja through the Gulf of the Farallones, as well as the imposing profile of the islands beyond.

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

Favorite spot

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

What time of the year does it get too cold to camp near there?

about 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

Go slow on the rocks and don't rush people who are less than comfortable walking down on the rocks. Helps to have hands free as well

over 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

As many of the other reviewers have noted, going early and beating the crowds is the way to go on this one. This should be a mandatory hike for every outdoor enthusiast in the Bay Area and a good one to get you interested, especially after it rains

over 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

Hike to Alamere Falls today with a buddy of mine and it wasn't a difficult hike at all. The only dangerous part of the hike was heading down to the falls due to loose gravel. Highly recommend heading to the falls early in the morning. We got there around 10am and by the time we were heading back to the parking lot, there were swarms of people heading towards the falls and beach.

over 1 year ago

Added by Jake Young

Adventurer, Photographer, Impact Investor. I work with companies that want to have a positive impact on the world around them.

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