Point Reyes National Seashore is an amazing stretch of coastline. On this day we embarked on a fantastic hike along the Coastal Trail from Palomarin to Wildcat Beach followed by a beach walk to the elusive Phantom Falls and back along the beach to the awe-inspiring Alamere Falls, one of the greatest ocean waterfalls. From Palomarin trail head it is 5.5 miles to Wildcat Camp. Make sure to take the Ocean Lake Trail option which travels closer to the coast and ascends to an amazing vista with views up and down the rugged Point Reyes coastline.
Aptly named, Phantom Falls requires careful planning to view in optimal conditions. First, it is virtually non-existent for most of the year. There is never high flow making it a wispy falls at best, but it’s delicate character is extremely aesthetic. Second, the beach walk to get to the falls requires lower tides (less than 3 ft). The falls is located about one mile north Wildcat Camp with the beach becoming narrower and the cliffs taller as you progress north. You can easily become trapped here with a rising tide so make sure you have looked at a tide chart before embarking on a walk to Phantom Falls. The sheer cliffs along the way make for a stunning and memorable walk to the falls with interesting rock formations and intricate geology. The ~150 ft drop of Phantom Falls from the high golden cliffs onto the beach is striking and impressive. It’s hard to comprehend the height unless you step back from the falls.
Classic Alamere Falls has water flow throughout the year, but on this day it was flowing strongly after heavy rains. In fact, it was visible all the way from Phantom Falls more than 2 miles away. We had some magical evening light come through high cloud layers and photogenic cirrus clouds. Total mileage for the itinerary is about 12 miles.