If you’re crazy about the ocean, the beach, and waterfalls, Bolinas’s Coast Trail is bound to become one of your all-time favorite spring hikes. It’s got one killer cliffside view after another and a classic climax: Alamere Falls, a 50-foot tumbler that launches off a cliff into the sand and sea. Start early to avoid heavy crowds (and because it’s a big hike).
The trek begins on the wide, well-kept Coast Trail in Point Reyes and meanders 6 miles one-way from the Palomarin trailhead along the edge of the Pacific. On the way, you’ll see beautiful Bass Lake and Pelican Lake, and red-tailed hawks coasting. There are multiple vista points for taking a breather and taking in the sweeping coast, and perhaps a whale sighting.
About a mile past Bass Lake, you’ll find the infamous Alamere Falls detour, a steep, rocky, and densely foliaged trail—with plenty of poison oak—that’s not park maintained. This can be a slip-and-slide slog where even hipsters look uncool trying to scuttle their way down. In other words, you’re better off walking another mile past this cutoff until you reach beautiful Wildcat Beach, then walking south to the falls from there. It adds 4 extra miles to your overall hike, but the Pacific scenery and easygoing beach strolling make for safer and easier treading (just watch the tides).
Your ultimate reward is coming up to one of the most spectacular spring waterfalls in the state: Alamere Falls, plunging 50 feet from cliff to sea. Glory!
From Hwy. 1, head south on Olema-Bolinas Rd. near Bolinas Marsh. Turn right on Mesa Rd. and follow it to the Palomarin trailhead (map). Follow the Coast Trail signage past Pelican Lake. When you come to the unsigned shortcut route, it’s another mile until you reach Wildcat Beach, where you can then make a much easier walk going south to the falls. No dogs.