Backpacking Point Reyes

Backpacking Point Reyes

Overnight at Wildcat Camp

By Gale Straub

Sponsored by JAM Collective

Distance: 14 miles (6 out, 6 back, 2 miles waterfall detour)

Difficulty: Moderate

Amenities at Wildcat: Drinking water, pit toilets, trash, bear box, and recycling.

Has it really been four years? Returning to a place and hiking its trails is one way of stretching the distance between two points on the number line. The last time I was at Point Reyes National Seashore, I was working in the finance department of a venture capital firm. I was visiting from Boston and my friend Julia was keen to get out of Oakland and go for a hike. Around my neck I had my Canon DSLR and in my hand I had a tiny 35mm film point and shoot. I was on vacation and I was stunned that I could walk six soft miles from the visitor’s center to a wide, shiny ocean.

From that first trip in 2013.

Lead by two Trail Maven guides, Maria and Bailey, last week I had the opportunity to camp at this place I had previously only hiked. It was exciting to revisit and see it through (slightly older) eyes. We were a group mixed in age and backgrounds, though most were writers and/or affiliated with the outdoor space. My shyer side didn’t have a chance to come out, it’s too darn easy to talk while hiking.

Trail Maven guides Maria and Bailey (L & R)

The hike in consists of around 5 miles of gradual uphill and the last mile is a descent down to the beach. The trees seem to be always changing and the ocean is in the air. The Wildcat campsites reside in a meadow behind the dunes. The sound of the surf is constant.

Overlook on the descent to Wildcat – the campsites are located just to the right of the winding path.

The beauty of backpacking is that everything you need for +/- 24 hours fits on your back. If you tend to be less-than-organized, it’s simple and gratifying to know where everything is. It’s a lovely constraint. And if you’re not staying out too long (or traveling too far), you can carry in luxurious camp food. The Trail Mavens planned vegetarian ramen with soft boiled eggs for dinner and a cheese board for the appetizer. Everything tastes better after a hike!

Backpacking – it’s a lovely constraint.


Emily Reed and luxurious camp food with Otterbox Elevation 10 Tumbler

Here’re some essentials I packed for the overnight at Wildcat:


Tent: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Sky 2

Sleeping Bag: Mountain Hardwear 55/35 Down Flip

Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-rest Prolite


Resevoir: Osprey Hydraulic Resevoir 3L

Coffee Mug: Otterbox Elevation 10 Tumbler

Bowl: Snow Peak Trek Titanium Bowl

Spork: Snow Peak Titanium Spork

Additional Gear

Boots: Vasque Breeze III’s

Multi-Tool: Leatherman Squirt PS4

Headlamp: Ledlenser MH10


Vasque Breeze III’s overlooking the Pacific Ocean

For me, the highlight of the out and back overnight was our morning detour to Alamere Falls. It’s a flat one mile walk on the beach from Wildcat camp and it was the perfect spot to enjoy our morning coffee. It’s not often that we see a waterfall empty into the ocean – to see it in a place that feels simultaneously remote and accessible is a dream.

Alamere Falls

These 24 hours were a reminder of how much you can fit into a day. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I find it’s too darn easy to let a day pass in front of a screen. Sometimes I need to step away to slow down the minutes. Most importantly, though, this trip served as a reminder to return to the places that pull.

Photos by Gale Straub

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