Marin Section 5

Glen Camp to Palomarin Trailhead, Point Reyes National Seashore

Marin Section 5

Glen Camp to Palomarin Trailhead, Point Reyes National Seashore

Prettiest of the Point Reyes backcountry camps, Glen Camp sits smack in the middle of the most remote part of the Burton Wilderness, offering plenty of great day hikes as well as a good stopover for people hiking the Coastal Trail. The camp nestles in a small meadow surrounded by oak and fir covered hills. If you're staying more than one night, explore old growth fir forest on the Greenpicker or Stewart Trails, take the short Glen Camp Loop or the longer Glen-Baldy-Sky Loop to the north. The final leg of Coast Trail to Palomarin Trailhead packs loads of scenery in a few miles.

If you stayed overnight at Glen Camp, make your way ⅞ mile back to the Coastal Trail. From the junction (the mileage counts from here), head south on the track variously called Coast Trail, Coastal Trail, and CCT. You begin a long descent to Wildcat Camp with expansive views from the top. As you descend, Wildcat Camp comes into view far below. At ¾ mile, the Coastal Trail meets Stewart Trail from Five Brooks Trailhead. Turn right and continue down to Wildcat Camp at 1⅝ miles. The camp sits on a grassy bluff beside a creek. You might take the short side trail down to Wildcat Beach.

The Coastal Trail from Wildcat Camp departs near the privies. It crosses the small creek and climbs to a fork above Wildcat Lake. You can take either the trail above the lake or the trail that skirts the west shore of both Wildcat Lake and Ocean Lake. The trails come back together in about one mile. These are the first of five small, picturesque lakes which resulted from a massive ancient landslide. Four of the lakes can be seen from the trail as it climbs through rolling hills.

Dip across Alamere Creek around 3¼ miles, then climb to meet a spur trail on the right. It drops ½ mile to overlook Alamere Falls which tumble to the beach. A second spur 150 feet beyond leads out to sweeping views up and down the coast from a hilltop above Double Point, ¾ mile round trip. At 3⅜ miles, dramatic Pelican Lake, in a hanging valley at the edge of the coastal cliffs, comes into view. Continue through the coyote brush prevalent in this region, and you soon enter the forest. At 5⅞ miles Bass Lake lies below the trail. Dense vegetation shrouds the hills surrounding this small lake, a setting reminiscent of a Zen ink drawing. Just before you get to the lake, take the unmarked spur west (you may have to retrace a few steps to find this spur). In several hundred feet it comes to a small meadow by the lake, the best and only place to swim. The swimming hole is popular, so expect a crowd on warm days and/or weekends.

From Bass Lake, it's 2⅝ miles to the Palomarin Trailhead. Climb gently along the base of the hill where springs pour from the hillside to feed the lake. Before 6½ miles, you pass a series of small, quiet ponds which resulted from the same ancient landslide that formed the lakes to the north.

Past the ponds, the trail turns west and drops sharply down rocky ravine, descends the hill, and turns south. Traverse the hillside well above the tideline with grand views north and south. Dip through several small creek canyons. After the last creek, pass a stand of enormous eucalyptus trees. In the eucalyptus grove you meet the newly rerouted Palomarin Beach Trail, which descends about ¾ mile to a low-tide Alternate Route. The parking area and section's ends are just a short walk past the trees at 8½ miles.

SUGGESTED ROUND TRIPS & LOOPS: From Palomarin, day hike north to Bass or Pelican Lake or go overnight to Wildcat or Glen Camp. Most loops in the southern national seashore are quite rugged, but the little 2-mile loop around Wildcat and Ocean Lakes is gentle.

Distance: 8½ miles plus ⅞-mile side trip from Glen Camp (13.7 + 1.4 kilometers).

Open to: Hikers.

Surface: Trail

Access point: Glen Camp.

How to get there: Walk in from Palomarin Trailhead (south), Five Brooks or Bear Valley Trailheads (east), or from Point Reyes Hostel (north) along the Coastal Trail, or you can start from the south end (see next section, How to Get There).

Other access:

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain/loss: 1140 feet+/1500 feet-.

Cautions: Reservations and fees are required for backcountry camps. Some of the trail is in poor condition. No services along trail. Watch for ticks and poison oak.

Further information: Point Reyes National Seashore (415)464-5100.

Facilities: Water, tables and chemical toilets at Wildcat Camp and Glen Camp. Chemical toilet at Palomarin.

Campgrounds: Wildcat Camp and Glen Camp, backpacking only.


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