Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Alamere Falls hike

Last Sunday Anne, Sebastian and I went hiking to Alamere Falls, beautiful falls dropping right into the ocean in Point Reyes area. I wanted to do this hike since a long while, but somehow thus far stars were not well aligned for it to happen.

Planing this hike takes patience and is challenging. First, the hike itself is pretty long (especially if you would like to get to the falls through the beach) - it can be anything between 8 to 16 miles, depending on the route you will select. Second, getting to the trailhead from SF can also take anything between 1.5 to 2h. That means that you need to plan a whole day to do this hike. (We left SF at 8am and we were back in the city at 5pm even though we went for the shortest possible hiking route.) Third, it is good idea to visit the falls after recent rains, so that the falls are at their full force. Fourth, Point Reyes is known for its unpredictable weather, low hanging clouds and fogginess, whereas hiking is always more fun if the sky is blue and visibility is good... Fifth, if you want to get down to the beach to see the falls in their full glory or if you want to get to them via the beach route you should time your hike with the low tide. Sixth, as this hike is very pleasant and easy, and the falls are beautiful, if you want to miss the crowds you should do it on the weekday.

Last Sunday was not a weekday, but it was the Superbowl day, which is probably even better :) Also it was the first sunny day after several rainy days and the low tide was scheduled to be there at 2pm, more or less when we were there. It was definitely a perfect day to visit the falls.

The hike starts at the Palomarin trailhead near Bolina and initially it follows the California Coast Trail. About a mile past Bass Lake (one of the two lakes you will pass on the way to the falls), there will be a detour to the Alamere Falls. (Another mile past this turn off is Wildcat Beach, from where one can also reach the falls along the beach.)

The detour trail leading to the falls is not well maintained and in the last part forces you to scramble down along the muddy cliff. But it is well worth the effort! I would definitely highly recommend this hike to anybody and I plan to repeat it myself in nearby future. This time around maybe I will go for its longer version, along the beach.

Coastal trail:

Negotiating the way down Alamere Creek:

First cascade on the Alamere Creek:

Crossing the creek:

Second and third cascade on the creek:

Looking down at the Alamere Falls:

The Alamere Falls, 40-feet tall, dropping directly into the ocean:

The beach next to the falls:

Even though it was low tide, the waves still were often reaching the cliff:

Coastline and beach north of the falls:

Along this cliff ones gets down to the falls: