Backpacking Pt. Reyes: Day 1
Point Reyes Travel Blog› entry 13 of 18 › view all entries
Pt. Reyes is a hike I'd been wanting to do for some time. It's 17 miles one-way, leading all along the coastline, past rocky cliffs, panoramic views, green meadows, sandy beaches, waterfalls, coastal forests, pretty streams and peaceful lakes. Highlights include Alamere Falls, a 50 ft waterfall that drops off a cliff right onto the beach, Arch rock, a sea arch where the ocean crashes through a rock gateway onto the beach right in front of you.
Depending on your fitness level and how much sunlight you have, the hike can be done in 1, 2, or 3 days. To do the full 17 miles one-way, you'll need 2 cars, one to drop off at the Limantour parking lot at the end, and another to take everyone to the start of the hike at the Palomarin parking lot.
From Palomarin, the trail extends high over the Pacific ocean, winding along sunny cliffs before turning inland around a couple of small lakes. Bass Lake is swimmable, and we spotted a rope hung from a tree, but decided against detouring here. It's a pretty little lake, surrounded by pines, but not anything special.
The first big detour is Alamere Falls. We dropped our packs and headed down half a mile to the coast. From above, you can spot the a little river shimmying down over the cliff to the beach. There are several tiers of cascades that you scramble past to get to the main falls: a 50 ft sheer drop over the cliff onto the beach. There's a steep scramble down to the beach that gets you right down under the waterfall -- the clear white water pounding onto the sand on one side, the ocean waves lapping up on the other.
Back on the main trail, at about 5.5 miles in, you hit Wildcat Camp, set in a green meadow on a cliff right over the ocean. Despite being a hike-in only campsite (as are all the sites along this trail), it's very popular and you need to book way in advance to get a spot on the weekend.
Since the site was full, we booked into Glen camp, which is further up in elevation, in a little evergreen forest on the side of the mountain. The trail winds upward for a good 2 miles, but its not incredibly steep. We saw several cute white-tailed deer along the way.
The sun was coming down quick over the ocean, and we made it just in time. Chris brought his campstove, so we were able to have warm water and coffee when we got there. The campsite was nice, in a pretty field surrounded by trees, underneath the stars. The one issue was that it was wretchedly cold. I blame this in part on my cheap-ass Big 5 mummy sleeping bag, though, which is so big for me, it really defeats the purpose of being shaped like a mummy.