About 9 miles overall, out-and-back, mainly flat, 1,500+ feet elevation gained. Best on a weekday when not so crowded. Weekends may have groups of 30-40 waiting to attempt the scramble to the falls and back. If you have the time to camp overnight at Wildcat Campground (you need a permit from the Park Rangers), it’s a great experience. Then just walk on the beach 1.5 miles to the falls without climbing on rocks.
The drive to Bolinas is fairly far off the beaten path, but finally making it to the falls is well worth it. From Shoreline Highway, take the Bolinas Olema Road toward Bolinas. When you finally get to the stop sign at Mesa Rd., turn right and go all the way to the dead end in the gravel parking lot. You will be driving on a gravel road for about 1+ miles, so don’t get the car washed before you go. Get there plenty early, especially on a weekend as it fills up early and you will have a long walk. There are vault toilets there, but no water. Legally, no dogs are allowed on the trail to the falls, with our without a leash. Don’t be surprised if you get fined if you try to. The Park Rangers were there when we pulled up, and will do what they gotta do.
I opted out of my run today for a hike instead, and brought my friend JoAnne along, to test out her new trekking poles and get some exercise. The trail starts out great flat going along the cliff line straight down to the water. The views are spectacular, where you are able to see as far south as Pacifica, and nearly as far north to Pt. Reyes on a clear day. The trail hugs the contour of the hillside near the ocean before turning back inland, as it switchbacks up the hillside. The grade usually is no more than 10%, but there is a rocky section before you get to the first lakes (ponds).
Bass Lake is the biggest lake you come upon, with a spur trail off the main trail that goes out to a rope swing. It would have to be pretty warm for me to give it a go.
The trail spurs off to the west, to Alamere Falls. Continuing on straight would bring you to Wildcat Campground for an overnight, or down to the beach to double-back to the falls without climbing down the cliff.
The trail to the falls is a bushwhack, with overgrown plants and berry thorns to remind you of your little outing. It is all worth it once you get there. The sandy cliffs have become so eroded with people climbing down them that it resembles Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland.
Finally got down to the base of the falls…JoAnne stood guard up on the ridge in case I needed MedEvac. It is steep, and loose case sand that doesn’t let you get a firm footing on anything. Mixed with the hoards of people trying to go up or down, take a huge shot of patience before you attempt the route to the falls.
But it’s all worth it when you get there…then you want to set up camp and stay a while.
Pretty anti-climatic after this view…the trip up was a hoot. I waited for each and every improperly dressed person to slide past me before making my way back up to the top. Several hours later, we were back at the car and on the way home. Confirming the limited parking at the trailhead, we saw cars lining the road for at least one mile on either side.
It was a good hike for both of us…nice to take a friend along sometimes and share the sights, sounds and smells that is the reason we all love the outdoors.
Many more trail adventures yet to be posted…I’m a little behind right now…weather is too nice to stay indoors.