I was born and raised in the Bay Area and family vacations were almost always camping and hiking, but I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of Alamere Falls until this year. The majority of our camping trips were either in the Sierras or the Santa Cruz Mountains, we rarely ventured up into Marin County unless it was for Girl Scout Camp in Fairfax. I didn’t visit Stinson Beach, Muir Beach, Muir Woods and Point Reyes until I was a teen and young adult, exploring the area with my boyfriend (now my husband).
We were in the Bay Area for Labor Day weekend to celebrate my birthday and my sister-in-law’s birthday and because of the long weekend, we had all day Sunday to play. I asked my siblings if they’d like to join me and my brother Patrick and his wife happily agreed. From our parents’ home in Hayward, it was an hour and a half drive just to get to the trailhead, which is just inside the Point Reyes National Seashore. We left early, just before 7am, as the road into and out of the little town of Stinson Beach is very windy. It’s a road I really enjoy driving on.
I fully expected the coastline to be socked in with fog and for the temperature to be downright chilly. When we got to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, I could see that the Marin Headlands were free from fog!! The views of the coastline were breathtaking and we had the best weather that day, albiet a little windy!
When we got the to trailhead parking lot, it was already starting to fill up on this holiday weekend. I was SO grateful we decided to get there early. We hit the trail and started the long trek out to the falls. Thankfully, you get to the coast pretty quickly and then meander above the coastline.
Tommy was already for a rest afer about 1/4 of a mile. It was a gamble bringing him with me on this hike. The night before we had a serious chat where he needed to choose who to spend the day with. He could sleep in, chilling with his grandparents in the morning and then go with my sister and brother-in-law to visit his brother and their kids for the afternoon. Or he could wake up early with me, take a long drive to the coast and then do an 8+ mile hike. He doesn’t love hiking and is prone to whining when he gets even a little bit bored. This would be the longest hike he’d ever done before too. There was also no guarantee there would be a cell signal to be able to do any geocaching or Pokemon Go (there was no service). After thinking about it for a bit, he chose to go on the hike. I’m glad he did, but it was still a struggle in a few parts. At least the pretty views helped!
The trail is a good mixture of climbing and flat, sunshine and shade. The overall elevation climb is only 250 feet and the main trail is wide and easy to follow, making this hike great for hikers of all ages and abilities.
We passed two small lakes, this one, Dog Lake, is supposedly fun for swimming. We saw a few people swimming on our way back.
The turnoff to the falls is unmarked and we would have completely missed it if fellow hikers hadn’t left the rock arrow pointing the way.
The side trail was very narrow and you had to duck under tree branches in more than a couple of spots, obviously not nearly as maintained as the main trail. I was also grateful we followed online suggestions to wear long sleeves and long pants as there was plenty of poison oak and wild blackberry bushes.
After a short distance we emerged into the sun with a wide view of the ocean and the upper falls below us.
You can just barely see Melissa and Patrick in the middle, Melissa has her arms up. You can also see the traffic jam of people working their way up or down the trail. It was a tricky scramble to get down to the upper falls in a section that has been carved out by water and lots of hikers. I had no problem getting down with Matthew on my back and Tommy made it down with no issues. The upper falls were beautiful, the water was icy cold too.
The stream meanders until it reaches the 40 foot cliff and drops down to the beach.
Patrick and Tommy worked their way down the cliff first to get an idea on whether Melissa and I would be able to do it with the babies. Patrick offered to wear Matthew for me (for which I was grateful, he’s 28lbs!!). I’m kicking myself for not taking any photos of the “trail” that allowed us to get down to the beach. It was a sight to see for sure. It was also a testament to courtesy and friendship as fellow hikers helped us down and then back up and we did the same for others. At one point, Patrick stayed and helped about nine guys down one portion.
Wow!! Turning around and seeing it kind of took my breath away.
Tommy was content to just sit at the base and play in the wet sand. He could have stayed there for hours!
The water was very, very cold and you definitely got splashed a bit when standing here, which may explain Patrick and Melissa’s faces.
I experimented with a slower shutter speed to see what I could get without a tripod. Apparently the slowest I can do is 1/20 of a second with my elbows braced on my knees. I still want to go in and fix the sky on this photo.
Photoshop can’t do much for goofballs though.
There was also a fun beach to play on.
This photo pretty much sums up Tommy’s day: a well-earned Whatchamacallit bar and wet, filthy pants and shoes (he was reminded again that waterproof shoes only work in water shallower than the top of the shoe). Despite some whining and grumpiness at various parts of the trail, I’m proud that he accomplished this long hike. Having his Uncle Patrick along to motivate him was tremendous. Not too shabby for a kid who’s not quite seven yet.
We realized that this was Avery’s very first visit to the beach too! She honored the occasion with a pretty epic blowout.
Líllébaby CarryOn Air Toddler Carrier
Melissa & Patrick’s baby carrier: Líllébaby Complete Airflow Baby Carrier
Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Hiking Boots
Keen Koven Waterproof Kids Hiking Shoe
Camelbak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
Lifestraw (just in case)
18-135mm Zoom Lens