Wildcat Camp is really scenic and convenient to Point Reyes’ most popular atttraction, Alamere Falls, but it only has 4 regular sites, making it really difficult to book. There’s also one first-come, first-served site, plus three group sites for groups of 7 or more campers.
The camp is in an open field on top of a seaside bluff and is filled with the crash of the surf. Although the camp is completely open, with no trees at all, most of the sites are well separated and have good privacy thanks to the 4-foot-tall scrub that fills the field. A low rise blocks most of the ocean view.
Although this is the most remote camp in Point Reyes, the area can be fairly busy; on weekends people walk by every few minutes on their way to Alamere Falls.
Each site has a food locker and a picnic table. The charcoal grills were removed in 2022. There’s a vault toilet, trash containers, and “usually” potable water.
Site 1 is a group site for 7–25 people. It has the least privacy, since it’s right on the trail to the bathroom in the middle of the camp.
Site 2 is a group site. It doesn't have a lot of privacy since it's near the vault toilet and the dirt access road.
Site 3 is the best and most isolated of the group sites.
Sites 4 and 8 are the least desirable since they’re right next to each other. Only site 4 can be reserved online; site 8 is available on a first-come, first-served basis. These are the only sites that can accomodate up to 6 people.
Site 5 is the most private; it’s so secluded that it’s a little hard to find. Look for a long, faint trail that starts at the hitching rails. From the site, an unofficial trail continues to the edge of the bluff and a view of the ocean; however, the view isn’t as dramatic as the view from site 6. It’s a long narrow site that accomodates 2 tents and 1–4 people.
Site 6 has good privacy and accomodates 1–4 people. It’s the most sought-after site, as it has an unofficial trail that leads to the edge of the bluff, where there’s a little clearing in the scrub with a rather spectacular ocean view. Some people put their tents right at the edge of the bluff to take advantage of the million-dollar ocean views, but it’s not actually allowed to put tents there; they’re supposed to be within 20 feet of the picnic table. Also, the Point Reyes bluffs are made out of sandstone and have a tendency to collapse.
Site 7 is also near the bluff, but it only has a bit of an ocean view, and even that is visible only if you stand up to see over the scrub. However, it's a nice location with good privacy. There’s only room for one tent.
The camp can be reached from three different trailheads.
Palomarin Trailhead: 5.8 miles and 1060 feet of climbing each way via the Coast Trail. The easiest and busiest route, with great ocean views for the first few miles. On nice spring weekends it has a nearly continuous stream of Alamere Falls hikers. Between about 10 am and 4 pm it may not even be possible to park at the trailhead.
Five Brooks Trailhead: 6.0 miles and 1370 feet of climbing via the Greenpicker Trail. Pleasant and woodsy, this route is a little more difficult and a lot less crowded than the other routes. It’s a really nice hike, except the first mile is heavily strewn with horse manure.
Bear Valley Trailhead: 6.6 miles and 1100 feet of climbing via the Glen Trail. The most convenient starting point, since you have to come here on the first day of your stay to pick up your permit. The hike in starts on the rather utilitarian Bear Valley Road, but then the scenery improves and near the end there are some great views. The trailhead is really popular, but parking usually isn’t a problem.
The best side trip from Wildcat is the walk down the beach to Alamere Falls, which is only possible at low tide. The beach gets progressively narrower as you approach the falls. The narrowest spot is just before the falls, where the cliff juts out into the ocean. Depending on the how much sand is built up on the beach, the tide sometimes has to be as low as 2 feet to get past this point, and even then the surf could be breaking against the cliffs, with people dashing past between waves.
Make reservations through Recreation.gov. The page shows all the campsites in Point Reyes; click the Loop column to sort the sites by camp.
© 2019 David Baselt