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Crystal Cove Loop

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I did this trail but started at alpine lake took the trail counter clockwise, the trail up winds in and out of large beautiful trees and many creek crossings, and waterfalls. nice wooden bridges to keep you from getting wet even during rainy seasons. Once you get to the top, the trail loses its beauty and other hikers disappears going down.
There is a creek crossing just past the lake that you might run into trouble during rains there is no bridge.

One of the best hikes I’ve done in Mt Tam. You will go though many different types of forest and nature. The lake is really beautiful about halfway through.

We took a couple of detours and made it closer to a 12 mike hike in about 4 hours.

Highly recommend.

Did counterclockwise. Highlight is the alpine lake. Pristine and not even a single soul nearby as I hiked this in the evening. I had a constant fear of mountain lion as there is a sign which said "avoid hiking alone". Nevertheless, found lot of people near cataract falls. Moderate hike.

Great trail, long but not too hard for us, we went anti-clockwise.There is not too much water at the fall but the lake is nice to have a meal break. There are several restrooms at picnic area along on the trail. We started at 9 am and completed at 1:30 pm. Dog, Cat, Crocodile friendly, not so much bugs or mosquitoes. Go early and park your car under big tree. I am kidding about the crocodile anyway.

Using this exact route we chose to go East first.

Starting at 9am on a Saturday, we saw only about 12 people in total until about the 6 mile mark.

The trail is beautiful but not in a scenic vista way. You will constantly have shade and a limited view of the path before and behind you as it is well grown bushes and trees as well as numerous turns.

We didn't see much wildlife but the manzanitas are amazing as well as the redwoods here and there.

The lake is a nice serene spot to have a small break. No bugs or mosquitoes.

The path is well marked but bring your map on the app as it did help. Also, it is well maintained but there is a lot of erosion which means you will need to concentrate on your steps for most of the entire hike...so a lot of engagement with the path.

If you do this exact hike, if you are just in average shape, it will be hard. If less than average shape, it will be strenuous. If in good shape it will be a good long exhausting hike.

This was a pretty okay trail. A little rocky in certain places but some nice views. It as about 10 degrees warmer there than the weather app said so dress in layers! Good thing is not a ton of traffic but the trails could have been marked better.

hiking
4 months ago

A decent hike with a variety of terrain and amazing panoramic views. The first 3 miles were relatively easy, and mostly shaded. The last two miles were a lot of elevation gain. The ground was often rocky and uneven for large areas of the path.

4 months ago

Depending on which way you go, this hike was hard. We got lost so we ended up doing about a six mile hike that was suppose to be four miles. Be sure to remember your route or use the all trails tracker. Overall, it was a great experience.

Fair to moderately complex hike with beautiful views. It earns the moderate complexity from loose gravel, large rocks, and some steep grades. However these are all intermittent and are easily traversed. I recommend a pair of trekking poles to navigate these areas more easily. Some of the views along this trail are absolutely stunning, and the change in scenery and microclimates as you hike are really fascinating. The fog adds an extra layer of beauty if you go before noon.

If you’re trying to access the trailhead from the Mount Tamalpais parking lot, you will need to walk down the road a little bit to find it. It is clearly marked with a trail marker. Note that you will need exact change ($8 cash, USD—foreign currency not excepted) to park in the parking lot. I tracked my hike with an app and it measured just over 5 miles. Not sure if it was me wandering around too much or if the measurement is off.

Beautiful hike, waterfalls, lush ferns to manzanita, views of the lake. Mostly shaded all the time.

The trail wound sharply at spots with varied amounts of shade - some spots were very shady, and some spots were in the full sun on this clear, sunny, hot summer day. The foliage was a mix of medium-size and large trees with some brush and bushes mixed in. Encountered some redwood groves too. The view from the mid-peak is stunningly beautiful, as is the view from the nearby fire tower (not part of the trail). Make sure to buy a more detailed map at the visitor's center near the parking lot or use an app like Gaia. The free map from the visitor's center is not detailed enough and may lead you in the wrong direction. Overall we had a wonderful day!

Did this hike Thursday. We started from the Fairfax trail head worked our way up the falls around to the Kent trail. Took our time and explored each waterfall. Ended up being 12.2 miles only because we kept exploring. Great hike!

great hike today, still some water flow in the falls, my Fitbit said 10.5 miles. went clockwise parking at Rock Spring. trailhead starting with the Cataract trail, lunch break at Alpine Lake which was a nice unexpected surprise to see on this hike. Nice and cool in the trees even though we worked up a sweat on the Kent trail!

Took this hike yesterday and although we hoped for warm, it was quite foggy and cool. Don’t be scared off by the Rock Springs parking lot - we thought the trail would be packed. True the downward hike was busy but once we turned off at alpine lake and came back up - and I do mean up- the Kent trail we ran into only a few folks.
The wildflowers, especially iris, were out in full force, Got to see a little newt and a frog!
Great variety of flora and geology - a most highly recommended hike!
From a 57 year old and 23 year old daughter!

Awesome trail. Lots of elevation changes and things to see. Def a work out.

Very beautiful hike. Did the loop to the lake and back to the cataract falls. Is a 9.2 miles, took us about 6 hours, stopping for lunch, pictures and just enjoying the beautiful view.

Arrived at the trail head at 7:30am the place was empty. It took us five hours, my Fitbit said it was 10.2 miles. it probably took an extra hour or so because i was doing some photography. Anyway it is longer than eight miles. We only passed a couple people along the way, it was Awesome. We seen a Pilated Woodpecker. Got back to the waterfalls portion of the loop around 1pm and it was a zoo. People drinking, playing music, it was crowded. had to wait in line to get down some portions, Just get there early, it's worth it.! Amazing hike, one of the bay areas best.

Amazing waterfalls and pools all along the cataract falls trail

Awesome trail. Great scenery. Dogs allowed. So many little streams and great waterfalls. Looking forward to doing it again.

Parked at Rock Springs. Hiked counterclockwise - down Simmons-Bernstein-Kent to Alpine Lake then back up on Helen Market-Cataract Falls. Good water flow after the recent rains. Hiked: 8.4 miles, 4 hours.

Yep we did it in the pouring rain & it was still spectacular! The falls were fanastic & all the trails were streams. Its going to be amazing for the next few days while all the water rushes down. Beautiful scenery & habitats & plenty of newts hiking with us.

One of the most gorgeous hikes in the Bay Area. The water is really flowing right now! Also, climb up the hill across from the parking lot for a truly epic view of the Bay Area.

Went here on Sunday 03/11 with my husband. Hike ended up being closer to 9 miles, but was very enjoyable! I could see it starting to get busier near the falls around 130-2pm but still a very nice hike. Trail is well maintained, and mostly shady.

So we started our hike going to Cataract Falls, on a weekday. We didn’t see too many people, and by the time we got there the hike wasn’t too difficult. Lots of going downstairs. We kept pushing to go to the lake, and made it. But that’s when the trail became difficult! And we had already hiked 5 miles at this point and it was close to 2:30. We had to summon all our strength to push up hill the last half of the hike, which beame the hard part! At the end, my fit bit said we did over 10 miles! It was worth it and a great accomplishment, but frustrating that the site said 7.5 miles.

Cold if you're in the mountains shade. There are much better hikes on Tam!

This is a great hike. We went after the rainy season and the falls were fairly big. I will come back here again. We did it in February, it gets chilly. A softshell or a light jacket should be enough to keep you warm. Lots of people, you won't be alone on this trail.

Absolutely gorgeous trail. Def go right at the start like other people say. However I got done at 8.5 miles not the 7 miles it says but also not the 12 plus miles other people are claiming. I also got 1900ft elevation climb whereas others seem to be different. Weird. If you go right you hit the meadow first then the alpine and then you hit a stunning stream and bridge before you hit the falls. Before the falls I only met one person along the trail. After the falls I met a lot of people. Highly recommended but get there early to avoid the crowds.

One thing to note, the distance reported on Alltrails is off. Here's my GPS recording on Strava which comes to around 10miles ( I went off trail for about 0.5 miles ) https://www.strava.com/activities/1401541303

Lovely hike. Butt burner of a hike :-). Definitely good training if you'r planning for the likes of Half Dome. Shaded, so good for a hot sunny day, stays cool for most part of the hike. Medium to heavy traffic. Half way mark is at the Alpine Lake which is a super quiet area, great for a break/lunch spot. Although the Cataract Falls itself is even more beautiful and serene so you might want to have your snack/lunch there instead.

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