The Coastal Trail to Alamere Falls is the most gorgeous hike I’ve done in the Bay area yet. The 8-mile loop is beautifully maintained, with constant changes in terrain, elevation, and plant life. There are bodies of water (lakes! waterfalls! the Pacific Ocean!); woods, lovely dark and deep; narrow, brambly passages on the trail; climbing down a rocky cliff face; a waterfall flowing onto the beach — interesting, interactive, and just plain gorgeous. This ranked up there with Cinque Terre as one of my favorite hikes — and to think! It’s just an hour drive away from the city.
It’s really incredible how diverse the terrain and vegetation is along this trail. From one vantage point, you have a classic Pacific coastal view.
Turn a corner, and you could be in upstate New York.
So lush & green! It hardly seems like California.
This tree fell in the perfect place to mark a gateway from one landscape to the next. Once you pass under it, the scenery changes from grassy greenery to a tall forest lined with ferns.
This sign invites you to branch off the Coastal Trail into a brambly section that in parts is hedged so tightly that you can’t even pass someone going in the opposite direction. At one point, having gone about halfway deep into a narrow passageway, we had to back up when we met hikers coming towards us.
It was quite romantic, in an Anne of Green Gables way.
Once we came out of the bramble to the open ocean views, we scrambled down rocks to get to the falls.
See where that lady is coming down (upper-right)? Here’s what it looks like:
This view was pretty and all, but then we were like:
So, how do we get down there?
Picnicking and “hanging out” at the cliff’s edge.
We scrambled down the cliff to get to the beach. As you can see from the ginormous pile of shards at the bottom, the rock face is quite loose, and pieces of it came right off when I tried to get a handhold. It’s doable, but better with hiking boots for sure!
Dipping your toes in the ocean never felt so good.
Absolutely gorgeous. This was sheer happiness. I’m really getting spoiled living out here!
Plus: the fact that wildflowers were everywhere made this daytrip absolutely perfect. Because I love wildflowers.
When I visited the Lake District in England, I took photographs of pages and pages out of our host’s book on wildflowers because I wanted to learn the names. Some Google searching helped me identify some of the flowers I saw yesterday, but on the whole these databases are overwhelming. A fairly helpful photo gallery of wildflowers in Northern California. A National Park Service PDF on flowers you can find in Point Reyes. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. And other searchable-by-name databases on California flora. But I think I’ll buy a book and be done with it. There really is such a thing as too much information!
We saw lots of too-bright berries along the trail that screamed “Eat me and DIE!”
Side note: there is also lots of poison oak along the trail, so beware! Long sleeves and long pants recommended.