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Coast Trail to Wildcat Camp

Trailhead: Palomarin

Length: 11 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderate

National Park: Point Reyes National Seashore

Journal: "Ten Days, Ten Counties, Ten Hundred Miles"

Wildcat Beach, from the Coast Trail

Directions to Trailhead:

From Olema, take CA Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) south to Bolinas Road. Turn right. Take Bolinas Road to Mesa Road and turn right. Take Mesa Road to the Palomarin Trailhead. To camp at Wildcat Camp, you must have a backcountry permit, obtained in advance from the Visitor's Center. Reservations are recommended - please visit the Point Reyes National Seashore web site for more information (click on the link above).

Trail Description:

This is an overnight backpacking adventure that you will never forget! The Coast Trail begins under a canopy of trees, from which you will emerge after about a quarter of a mile. Soon thereafter, the trail winds its way to the Pacific Coast, where you will follow the coast line, about fifty feet above the beach, for about 1.5 miles.

At about 1.75 miles, the trail pulls away from the coast and goes inland, towards the junction with the Lake Ranch Trail, at 2.2 miles. Stay on the Coast Trail. At 2.8 miles, you will come to the first of four ocean lakes that you will encounter on this trail: Bass Lake. This area of the trail is very pretty and quite cool, as it is shaded by a canopy of pine trees.

At 3.1 miles, you will come to the junction with the Crystal Lake Trail. Again, stay on the Coast Trail. Just after that trail juction, you will see Pelican Lake - here, the trail starts a steep climb uphill, after which it will start back down towards the coast again.

At about 3.75 miles, you will come to a junction with a spur trail that will take you to Alamere Falls. This is a nice side trip to add to the adventure of your trip, but mind the overgrowth of poison oak and stinging nettles that line this narrow trail.

At 4.1 miles, you will reach another trail junction: here, you will need to decide whether or not you want to take the high road or the low road, because either route will get you there. These two routes, which meet up again at mile 5.1, will take you around Ocean Lake and Wildcat Lake.

At 5.1 miles, the trail descends steeply for the last 0.4 miles to Wildcat Camp, where you will find several numbered campsites, each of which contains a food locker and a picnic table. If you are lucky, you just might get one of the oceanside campsites, where you can pitch your tent next to the edge of the cliff, overlooking breathtaking Wildcat Beach.

Wildcat Beach is about the closest you will ever come to having your own private beach. It is a wild, pristine beach that does not get nearly the visitors that a public beach would get. Since it is Northern California, it can be cold on Wildcat Beach, even in August, so dress appropriately. Fires are permitted only on the beach, but not during the windy season.

After spending the night at Wildcat Beach, return the way you came.

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This site maintained by John and Heather Verley, 2001-2010.