For one of the best hikes in Marin, take the trek past Bass Lake to Alamere Falls. All through the spring this trail offers a wildflower bonanza–but it’s a treat at any time of year. The views are any over-the-top word you’d like to use: spectacular, breath-taking, awesome. But my favorite thing is that you pass through such a diversity of landscapes. Beginning from the eucalyptus forest at the Palomarin trailhead, you follow the Coast Trail along the bluffs high above the ocean. The wide and well-maintained trail bends inland in places, so when you aren’t walking along windswept and view-ridden hillsides, you dip down into lush and sheltered gullies filled with greenery and the trickling sound of small creeks. The gentle ups and downs of the trail give you a workout but nothing particularly daunting.
After (very approximately) two miles of this, you reach the only climb of any steepness on the trail, which dog-legs away from the water and heads up a smallish ridge. You then hike in and out of a forest of Douglas fir and alder until the views give way unexpectedly to Bass Lake, a placid tree-skirted spot. Not long after this, you begin to drop down out off of the ridge, passing another little lake (Pelican) on your left and once again heading into the treeless coastal scrub. The trail down to Alamere Falls is unmaintained, but used often enough that it’s not too overgrown. The trail is somewhat eroded though, and it’s a tiny bit of a scramble to reach the falls. But very well worth it. What unusual falls these are!
As you approach them, you’re not even sure what you’re seeing. You’re walking toward the ocean but high above it on a bluff, headed the same direction as the stream. As you get closer, you realize that the creek stair-steps down low crumbled cliffs, streams across the level surface of the bluff, and then disappears over the cliff to crash onto the beach about 50 feet below.
Pack a lunch if you go since the total distance is just over eight miles, round trip. And if you’re not a people-person, be warned that this trail can be jam-packed by midmorning on weekends. It’s on the popular Coast Trail, which links up with many other trails on the Point Reyes Peninsula, and also connects to various campgrounds. Check here for more info, directions and so on.