Just north of Bolinas and the Point Reyes Bird Observatory lies Alamere Falls, a beautiful waterfall that drops down into the ocean. The 8-mile in and out Coast trail to the falls winds its way along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific and on clear days, the Farallon Islands. The majority of this hike involves a well-maintained dirt trail, but be aware that the last part down to the falls involves some scrambling down friable rocks.
Above the parking lot, at the Palomarin Trailhead, you’ll begin your walk through a grove of enormous eucalyptus before breaking out into the open along the edge of the bluffs. On windy days this spot can be chilly, so be sure to dress appropriately. The fairly level trail soon descends and crosses a small creek before climbing back up along the coast amidst lupine and irises. Not long after, you’ll descend once more before beginning a long climb up a rocky path away from the coast and into the forest. The trail winds through the forest of Douglas Fir and plentiful poison oak before reaching Bass Lake. [The lake is accessible by an unmarked trail off to the left of the Coast trail.] Beyond Bass Lake the trail continues through the thick forest for about a half a mile before opening up once more to coastal brush. At this point you’ll pass Pelican Lake and shortly thereafter come across the marked, but unmaintained trail to the falls on your left. You’ll be glad if you’re wearing long sleeves and pants on this section, as the trail is narrow and protruding shrubs and branches are prone to scratch. After several hundred feet the trail opens up and you’ll see the ocean and stream below you. Climb down the steep and narrow chutes in the sandstone and cross over the stream – this section may require some careful maneuvering, but is manageable for most. From here you’ll see the upper tiers of the falls behind you and the top of the main fall dropping from the ledge in front of you.
If you want to see more than the amazing view from the top, there is a route down to the beach where you’ll be granted the full on perspective of the falls dropping into the ocean. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a trail because it’s a tricky scramble down. Walk north along the bluff and you’ll see the well-worn path. It’s certainly doable, even for a person with a minor fear of heights, but I wouldn’t recommend it if on your own. The view from the beach is beautiful and at low tide you can easily explore the surrounding beach and coves. You’ll either have to climb back up the cliff and follow the same trail out, or if you choose to, you can walk north along the beach to Wildcat Beach. This will add about 2 miles onto the trip and will connect back to the Coast Trail.
Note: The two pictures of the falls were taken at different times of the year – one in February and the other in April. If you do this hike in the spring, you’ll see a heavier flow of water.