The Palomarin Trailhead parking lot typically fills up by 10 am in the summer, so get there early! Bikes are not allowed on these trails.
This trail has a mellow grade until the end, then it's a scramble down the cliffs to the beach.
The Coast Trail - South
begins from the Palomarin Trailhead and parking area in a eucalyptus grove. The wide doubletrack trail starts out nearly level, crossing small creeks and offering views of the ocean. After a moderate climb, the trail passes a handful of seasonal ponds and approaches the northern edge of beautiful Bass Lake
. To visit the lake, keep going until you reach the Bass Lake Connector
, about 100 yards after you first glimpse the lake. Popular with picnic-ers, anglers, and swimmers- it can feel very crowded on summer weekends. Off-peak times are more relaxing, with ducks and other waterbirds paddling about.
Just after the junction with Crystal Lake Trail, the descent starts with a spectacular vision of Pelican Lake perched high on a bluff. The Pacific Ocean peeks out between two hills (called Double Point) that form a "V." Hard to describe, easy to enjoy! A spur trail goes from here to the craggy overlook of Double Point, a favorite place for whale watching in March.
Next up is the grand finale: Alamere Falls. Take this is short, less than 1/2 mile Alamere Falls
access trail down to the cliffs where the 50 ft falls land on the beach. The narrow trail to the top of the falls is somewhat overgrown with scrub (and possibly poison oak) in places. A popular viewpoint and lunch spot is just next to the falls on an open, wide part of the cliff.
The waterfall drops over a bluff and forms two sets of falls which can grow to 25' across after it rains. When the tide comes up, the falls actually hit the ocean water rushing in. To get to the beach and see both parts of the falls takes some scrambling through ruts and over rock benches. Also involved is a somewhat harrowing leap across the stream below the second falls! Rangers do not recommend this direct approach due to the danger to the eroding cliffs (instead, from Wildcat Camp, walk south on the beach to Alamere Falls).
With careful planning, it is possible to travel from the falls back to the Palomarin Trailhead parking area on the beach at low tide, but don't be caught out! Most sensible folks opt to retrace their steps back to Coast Trail - South
and head back to the Palomarin Trailhead.
Indian paintbrush, Douglas Iris, lupine, broom, coffeeberry, rabbits, sea lions on the sand, seabirds. Binoculars help see migrating grey whales in March.