Coastal Trail to Alamere Falls - Kayak Elkhorn Slough - Bike Half Moon Bay


Spring Classics

You know it: Spring has sprung, and it's time to get out and celebrate. Here are three Northern California classics.

Alamere Falls Point Reyes Marin

Water, Baby

If you’re crazy about the ocean, Bolinas's Coast Trail will quickly become one of your favorites, with one killer cliff-side view after another. Start early, so you’ll have time to get to the climax of the trip: Alamere Falls, which plunges 50 feet from the cliff into the sea. This trek begins on the wide, well-kept Coast Trail and meanders 4.1 miles one-way from the Palomarin trailhead along the edge of the Pacific. On the way, you’ll see beautiful Bass Lake and Pelican Lake, and red-tailed hawks coasting. About a mile past Bass Lake, you’ll find the Alamere Falls detour. (Watch out for the poison oak on this narrow and densely foliaged trail. It’s a good idea to wear long sleeves and long pants.) The short trail to the falls is not park-maintained, but if you tread carefully, it’s more than worth it. You’ll be rewarded with one of the most spectacular spring waterfalls in the state.

From Highway 1, take a left on Olema-Bolinas Rd. near Bolinas Marsh. Turn right on Mesa Rd. and follow it to the Palomarin trailhead. Follow the Coast Trail signage past Pelican Lake. When you come to a little bridge, take the unmarked creek-side path to your left to the falls. Or, to avoid the poison oak route, walk another mile past the cutoff until you reach Wildcat Beach and then walk back on the beach. This adds 4 miles to your walk. (Find a map here.)

Elkhorn Slough Kayak

Slough-Motion Paradise

Near Moss Landing, Elkhorn Slough is a huge tidal salt marsh that draws bird-watchers from around the world to see the more than 300 species that thrive here. In spring, it’s also the perfect place for kayaking; you’re practically guaranteed to see sea otters. (Watch out for the big jellyfish; they can fill a city pothole.) You don’t have to be an expert; the protected slough offers easy kayaking, and even if you’ve never held a paddle before, you can learn enough to get around in about 15 minutes. Rent a kayak and explore the 7-mile-long slough on your own, or take Kayak Connection’s guided tour. One tip: Arrive in the morning, when it’s less windy. BONUS: Stop in at Sea Harvest afterward for a crab and shrimp Louie (or fish ’n’ chips) overlooking the water. Entertainment is provided by the sea otters.

Directions to Elkhorn Slough.

Kayak Connection, 2370 Highway 1, Moss Landing; 831-724-5692. Rentals are $45 for a half day for two people in a double; guided four-hour bird-watching tours $65 per person.

Sea Harvest Fish Market and Restaurant, 2420 Highway 1, Moss Landing; 831-633-8300.

Bike the Coastside Trail in Half Moon Bay

Bluffside Ride

Blow out the winter cobwebs with a beachfront picnic on a quiet cove. Take the easygoing bike ride along Half Moon Bay's five-mile Coastside Trail, dotted with beach primrose, bush lupine, and the occasional jackrabbit. The trail cruises by beaches between Pillar Point Harbor and Poplar Avenue; choose one that catches your fancy, and make your own Beach Blanket Babylon. Rent a bike from Bike Rec—they’ll deliver a beach cruiser to you anywhere on the trail. Or, pack a picnic and chow down at the deck-side tables at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society on Miramar Beach, where Sunday afternoon jazz has been a tradition since the sixties. (Buffet food is sold there if you don’t want to bring your own.) On April 1, Delfeayo Marsalis will be on trombone; on April 15, pianist Hiromi plays with her trio. Jazz on the beach? Sounds like California living at its finest.

For Coastside Trail, park at Pillar Point Harbor on Mirada Rd. off Highway 1 in Miramar; Half Moon Bay State Beach.

Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Douglas Beach House, 311 Mirada Rd., Half Moon Bay;650-726-4143.

Bike rentals: Half day rentals are $20; full day rentals are $30.

Other Activities You Might Enjoy