Ocean Breathes Salty: Hiking to Alamere Falls

This past Saturday, I joined a group of my college friends for an 8.5-mile round trip hike to the beautiful Alamere Falls in Point Reyes National Seashore. Located in Marin County north of San Francisco, the waterfall and preceding trails make the perfect weekend day trip, and we all had an awesome time exploring the area and enjoying the sunny skies and ocean breeze.

Edge shot over Alamere Falls!

Edge shot over Alamere Falls!

Our trip started at the Palomarin Trailhead, where we parked and hit the well-known Coast Trail that would lead us to the waterfall. The initial portion of the hike was nice and forested, with plenty of trees providing some nice shade from the sun, interspersed with patches of sun-lit vegetation. I hadn’t seen a lot of my friends in a while, so we used the time out in nature to catch up on life and enjoy the nice scenery. Soon we hit a fork in the road and the Coast Trail abruptly narrowed, becoming almost tunnel-like. We had to gingerly make our way through, taking extra care to avoid the poison oak growing in the area. But we made it out okay and found ourselves getting closer to the beach, where we would finally see the waterfall.

Climbing down to see the top of Alamere Falls

Climbing down to see the top of Alamere Falls

By now we had hiked over 4 miles, so we took a quick break to catch our breaths (and also figure out how to find one of our group members who had gone ahead of us and hadn’t returned). We made our way to the area near the top of the waterfall by climbing down some rock structures. Two smaller waterfalls splashed softly to the right of us into clear springs filled with plenty of plants. The top of the waterfall was on the other side, so we walked over, peered over the edge, and enjoyed the beach and ocean view beneath us as we took a lunch break.

After lunch, we climbed down some more rock formations to get to the beach and see the actual waterfall. As I stepped into the sand and Alamere Falls came into view, I immediately noticed the stark contrast of seeing a freshwater waterfall emptying into the sand on a beach and flowing into the ocean directly across. There was a bit of cognitive dissonance going on here, but at the same time I thought it was a really cool setup. This was the first time I’d witnessed a “tidefall” – a waterfall that flows directly into the ocean.

Beautiful Alamere Falls!

Beautiful Alamere Falls!

Even though the waterfall wasn’t higher than 40 feet, I still enjoyed the view and listened to the sound of the falls while taking a nice long nap on the beach. There’s something about napping in the sun that’s just incomparable to any other form of rest, and I woke up after that nap feeling absolutely refreshed. By now our aforementioned “missing” friend found his way back to the beach, so all was good and we decided to head back onto the trail. Along the way back we stopped by Bass Lake for a quick breather and saw a group of people swimming in the lake and chilling on inner tubes. After another 4 miles or so, we made it back to the parking lot to call it a day.

All in all I enjoyed the hike a lot – it wasn’t a difficult hike with intense elevation changes or unbearable heat, just a nice walk that anyone could take at a leisurely pace and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. I loved the change in surroundings throughout the hike, from the forested areas to the more barren rocky areas to the sandy beach. It kept things fresh and gave us plenty of opportunity to explore and take in the sights and sounds. This will definitely be on my list of places to return to visit in the future, maybe for a camping trip or just a day out at Bass Lake (where they have an awesome rope swing on a tree that people could use to jump into the lake – next time!).

Shout-out to Clay for planning and coordinating a fun trip. And thanks to Zoe, Elaine, Ally, Brian, and Kim for keeping the car rides fun and chill!

Some GoPro footage of the trip below:


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