When Is the Best Time
Several trails are leading to the Alamere Falls. We'd chosen the shortest one. Continue reading to get all necessary information for an awesome hike and waterfall experience. During summer from July to September, the Park is often covered in fog while the inland has sunshine and warm temps.
It is quite a popular park due to the close location to San Francisco. The Alamare Falls are much loved, and the Palomarin car park already fills up early morning at weekends. If possible hike to the falls mid-week. If you can’t get a parking space, you have to queue or leave. Shoulder parking is not permitted.
Best Time to Start the Hike
Mid-week start your hike to the Alamare Falls around two to three hours before low tide depending on the trail you choose. At weekends and in the summer months start early to get a parking lot. Tide times for the hike to the Alamere Falls or check at the Bear Valley Information Center
Tip for Photographers
Best light for a good shot of the falls is after midday.
If you do the hike on a hot summer day bring your bath cloth for swimming in the Pelican Lake, the last on the right on your way back.
Points of Interest Inside the Park
If hiking to the falls try to combine your visit with one of the other attractions depending on the day and month of your visit;
Point Reyes Lighthouse built in 1870
300 steps leading down to the picturesque lighthouse with a spectacular view if it is not foggy. Unfortunately, only open from Friday to Monday.
The overlook is close to the lighthouse to spot elephant seals while breeding during December to March. Many visitors want to observe the spectacle which causes much traffic and shuttle buses are offered.
Tule Elk Reserve on Tomales Point
These specific elks were reintroduced in 1978. It’s a more than 9 miles / 15 km hike on the peninsula to Tomales Bluff and back. A shorter option is the 2 miles / 3.2 km hike to Windy Gap and back where you may spot elks at a spring. The Tule Elk Rut Season from around August to late October/beginning of November is a spectacular time.
- Migrating gray whales can be spotted around the lighthouse and Chimney Rock between January to April. Humpback whales migrate past Point Reyes from November to March.
Weather / Climate
Point Reyes has a coastal climate with dry summer and cool winter. Only very view rain occurs from mid-April to October. Most of the precipitation happens from December to March. It’s often windy at Point Reyes, and very strong winds are common in November and December. Fog occurs in summer mostly from July to September. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon.
Where to Stay (bookmark the links)
We recommend spending minimum two days in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The park has so much to offer; outstanding nature, wildlife, several hiking trails, and coastline. We'd been here already twice and still haven't seen all of its beauty. Situated inside the park is the HI Point Reyes Hostel. Next to the park in Olema is the quiet and lovely The Lodge of Point Reyes with an excellent restaurant. Probably the best accommodation in this area.
Where and Tips
Many trails lead to Alamere; these three hikes are the most common ones to get to the falls:
Starting point Bear Valley Information Center; the hike is 15 miles / 24 km long, and low tide is essential to walk along the Wildcat Beach to get to the falls and back.
From Palomarin Trailhead to Wildcat Campground to the Alamare Falls is a 13 miles / 21 km long hike and recommended by the National Park Headquarter. Low tide is essential for the walk along the Wildcat Beach to the falls and back. Otherwise, your walk may be cut by the tide. In winter and spring, the Wildcat Beach is inaccessible during high tide.
- Also from Palomarin Trailhead with a shortcut through thick bush and a steep climb downhill. This trail is 8.7 miles /14 km long and took us 1 ½ hours one way. At high tide, the falls might be not accessible, but it’s just a two minutes walk along the beach after the steep and slippery climb. You don’t get trapped by the tide. However, always watch the surf; huge waves can occur. Wear proper shoes for this option; hiking poles may help. This hike is not marked and not recommended by the park headquarter. The last part is unmaintained, and visitors get injured each week. So be careful!
We hiked the shortest trail to the falls from Palomarin Trailhead. It’s an easy up and down hike. At the beginning, the hike leads through eucalyptus forest and afterwards along the coast. It can be quite hot during summer. The night before was cold with less than 10 degrees, and we had a beautiful blue sky late August. Later on, the trail leads through dense forest and passes several lakes. Afterward, you walk along open meadow areas and bushes until you have to turn left through thick bushes after around 3.7 miles / 6.0 km.
It’s not marked watch carefully that you don’t miss it. We used a hiking map on our mobile. After turning left, you hike stooped for more than hundred meters, and it’s narrow in points. When reaching the upper part of the falls turn left again. Now comes the tricky part which is steep and slippery. This part is unmaintained, and visitors get hurt often.
The falls flow over different levels before the lower fall cascades over a 30-foot-tall cliff onto the beach. At high tide and a strong swell, it might be dangerous to walk to the bottom of the falls.
Enjoy your picnic at the beach.
The Point Reyes National Seashore and Peninsula got protected in 1962 and is separated from the mainland by the San Andreas Fault. In 1906, it caused an earthquake which can always happen again. Close to the Bear Valley Visitor Center is the Earthquake Trail which gives you an impression of the immense force of the earthquake more than 100 years ago.
Poison oak is found throughout the park often a groundcover and thick bush. The oily substance on the leaves, stems, and roots is irritating to the skin which gets itchy for days.
Point Reyes has four backcountry campgrounds; the Wildcat Campground to get to the Alamere Falls, Coast Camp, Glen Camp and Sky Camp.