Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
2,755.00 ft (839.72 m)
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
12.50 mi (20.12 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

This hike will take you on a journey through the backcountry of Point Reyes and through some of the most secluded areas this little piece of wilderness has to offer. It features a waterfall, several lakes, and three distinct ecosystems. As you hike, surrounded by coastal grasses, rest on a beach, and wander through woodlands. It’s a beautiful hike that’s well worth the little extra planning it will require.

Because this is a point-to-point hike, the first thing to do is to find a friend with a car. Leave one car at the Bear Valley Visitor Center where this journey ends and then drive to Palomarin Trailhead, about half-hour away.

Start your journey at the Palomarin Trailhead. There’s a bathroom there. Black widows visit the area, so be careful and give them space. They don’t prefer the bathrooms but there’s a small change you might encounter one there.

Head out on Coast Trail. Follow it for 3.8 miles, at which point you will reach a turn to Alamere Falls. The turn can be easy to miss, as the Alamere Falls Trail leads through thick vegetation; it’s on a slight downhill after a near-right-angle right-turn curve and right before the trail takes another right-angle turn to the left. Sometimes, other visitors mark the turn with arrows made of rocks and branches but don’t rely on that.

Take the turn to make a stop at Alamere Falls, half a mile down the trail. It’s a nice spot for a break that features a small cascade and a fall. You can sit atop the cliff and admire the ocean from there or go down to the beach. Please keep in mind that getting down on the beach requires some rock scrambling, and that it’s not possible to leave the beach quickly. If the surf is high or there’s a storm out on the ocean, exercise extreme caution when enjoying yourself on the beach.

When you’re ready to continue, retrace your steps all the way back to Coast Trail. Turn left onto the trail and resume your journey. After half a mile, the trail will fork. Coast Trail continues to the right, while Ocean Lake Loop Trail goes to the left. Choose whichever trail you want; they’re equal in length and converge again after 1.2 mile. Ocean Lake Loop Trail will take you closer to the cliffs and past Ocean Lake, while Coast Trail will keep you more inland and leads right past Wildcat Lake.

After Ocean Lake Loop Trail meets up with Coast Trail, continue on Coast Trail. You will reach Wildcat Campground after 0.3 miles; take a right turn onto the Steward service road. Follow it for 0.7 mile, then take a left tur to continue on Coast Trail which resumes here. After one mile on Coast Trail, you will have reached the highest point of the whole journey. Take a left turn on the trail junction on the top of the hill to continue on Coast Trail.

After half a mile, turn right onto the Coast Glen Spur Nort trail and follow it for 0.2 mile before taking a left turn to join the Glen trail. Descend on Glen for a mile, cross a small wooden bridge at the bottom of the hill, and you will have reached a trail junction with a bicycle rack and a log where you can sit down and take a break.

Turn right on Bear Valley Trail, which is a wide and smooth service road, and follow it for 3.5 miles at the end of which you will reach Bear Valley Trailhead and Visitor Center, where your or your companion’s car is waiting. There are bathrooms in the parking lot as well as in the visitor center and a water fountain inside the center as well as behind the wooden bus stop.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Beautiful views. Lot of wildlife. Hike explores several different ecosystems.

Cons

No bail-out points. No drinkable water until the end.

Trailhead Elevation

269.00 ft (81.99 m)

Highest point

869.00 ft (264.87 m)

Features

Bird watching
Wildlife
Waterfalls
Vault toilet
Near lake or river

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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