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This is a pretty trail with mellow elevations and beautiful views. Also a lot of different trail options along the way.

I got engaged here! It was super pretty and the falls are impressive in the amount of water coming down, also if you are trying to sleep there are not many flat surfaces to sleep. If you are trying to fish you can catch plenty of brook and rainbow since they are hungry.

Absolutely amazing! Stunning views and plenty of places to stop and just relax next to the falls! I highly recommend it!

Beautiful views and waterfalls! The trail was tough to follow at a couple spots. watch for logs and rocks that help guide you. We started about 8:30 am. By the time we were heading down it had gotten pretty crowded, but the way up was peaceful.

This hike is very beautiful with lots of trees, places near the river to rest, and of course the waterfall. The trail is poorly marked but there is a dirt path that starts from the Tahoe basin sign that first directs you into the parking lot and that leads all the way up. Lots of granite slabs to climb, and if you lose the trail, it's mostly fine as long as you aim towards the waterfall. Along the way you should pass the desolation wilderness trailhead, and that trail is fairly easy to follow.

hiking
9 days ago

Beautiful hike! I did the first four miles up Oat Mine trail, it is CLOSED from that point forward through September 23 due to wildfire risk. You can turn left though and continue on Palisades trail, which I did for an additional mile- this affords you some cool views looking back down on the trail you came up. Also about a half mile down Palisades there is a cool sort of cave that makes for a shaded lunch spot. Otherwise pretty sunny trail especially after the first few miles so bring lots of water and go early. I did my hike from 10-3 pm in August and it was really hot on the way down. Parking at the trail head is free but quite limited - I had no problem finding a spot but imagine it’s more popular in the cooler months.

Beautiful terrain that vacillated between forested shade and granite slabs to bouldering cascades at the top.

Peaceful and pleasant morning walk. A bit dusty this time of the year.

As of today, aug 12, 2018. Not amazing at all. Smokey, dry, way too hot and literally looks like it burned down yesterday. Very sketchy to get to and should not go by yourself. Hopefully in the cooler months and growth from rain I’ll try again but def bummed bc recent reviews said it was great.
......... also I was just informed that it’s hunting season up there. Def not safe right now!!!!

Great hike! Just be watchful of bears. We spotted one about 15/20 feet from us while doing the hike not even half way in.

hiking
11 days ago

I loved this hike! Took my boyfriend for his birthday and it was lovely, BUT it was horrible the way back because we did not bring enough water. Please bring more than you think you need!!

hiking
15 days ago

Challenging hike even for the seasoned hikers. Definitely worthy of effort for the beautiful lake view at start, during and on top! Recommend poles for balance and safety coming down.

As others have said, this is a steep one! I wasn’t able too see much because of the smoke, but I imagine it’s a beautiful eyeful on a clear day. I actually thought the trail was quite easy to navigate most of the way up. By the time the trail begins to get vague you can see the summit block in front of you so just follow the path of least resistance. Word of warning, there are cairns EVERYWHERE, plenty of them leading you off trail, so have your wits about you and don’t blindly follow every one you see.

loved this hike with my family. my 7 year old daughter complained a lot until she saw the water fall and got to swim. she also swam in the lake and that made up for her complaining. it was fun for the family! you can picnic in the lagoons, lots of boaters came in and picnicked on the shore. the water is beautiful and turquoise for a lake. just loved it!

Best hike by far perfect not too long! Lots of beautiful views! Love it!

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.

20 days ago

The path is wide and well signed. It starts with a gentle incline through mostly exposed ravine. This takes you over the hill and back towards the road. From the new trail head, you walk steadily uphill through partially shaded trees to the ridge line. Once at the top you are rewarded with views of East Bay hills and reservoirs on one side and Bridges and bayviews to the other side. There are some nice benches to sit and enjoy the vistas. Then, it is a shady decline through bay and eucalyptus trees. Some parts are a bit rocky and steep, but doable.

There was no sign on the fork & we didn't think of getting a map before we started so we took the trail on the left & apparently it was the more difficult one. About 3.5 miles in we saw a black bear near the trail ahead of us so we ended up having to walk back in fear & in silence without even seeing the waterfall. I've never walked so fast in my life. It was a great workout, but the trail could use some maintance.

hiking
21 days ago

I loved this hike/run. Having read many disparate reviews of this trail without full context, two disclaimers: 1. I only had two hours, so I had to turn around after about four miles (eight miles round trip) and 2. I do a lot of trail running/races which include lots of elevation and rough terrain. That said, I thought this was an easy trail, elevation changes were mostly very manageable if not easy. Trail was well marked (there are numerous spurs, but it is very obvious they are spurs to intermittent high points to get a view) and the surface was almost perfect for trail running with the expected exposed rock and roots along the way to add a welcomed degree of difficulty to keep it interesting. The views were awesome! From interesting rock formations to sweeping views of the valley to fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and canyons this trail offers a visual treat. Lots of opportunity to hike up to different peaks to see a variety of views. Also, seeing the ruts in the rock of old wagon wheels was really cool. Just imagining miners making the trek in mule pulled wagons up this trail is facinating.
Regrettably, I did not make it quite to the Holm's homestead, but definitely will the next time I am in Napa. I would highly recommend this trail to anyone, but especially trail runners who want elevation gain. If you are not accustomed to hiking/trail running, this is still a great trail, but just be prepared and be realistic about your physical conditioning. A few things to keep in mind. First, there is very limited parking at the base of this trail. If you do not get there early, I would suggest parking toward Calistoga and walking over. Second, I would suggest starting early as I am sure it gets very warm later in the day and the only water will be what you bring. Third, definitely take the time to hike up some of the separate spurs from the trail for additional views. This trail, compared to Bothe and the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail to the Mt. St. Helena peak, is far superior in my opinion. Views are just as good as Mt. St. Helena and although you do not have the redwoods of Bothe, there are a lot of trees and beautiful rock formations. I also saw lots of wildlife (fortunately, no mountain lions!) including a large jack rabbit that sat patiently as I fumbled with my iPhone to take several pictures of him from about five feet away. To sum up, great trail, awesome views, and a great workout! Have fun and be safe! Go Billikens!

This trail wasn't worth the effort. It's long, hot and honestly not that pretty (like some of the women from my past). The trail is not well maintained, lots of plant life growing into the walking path you can't avoid walking through, a fallen tree you have to climb over. If you are with a lady in booty shorts, she won’t like it and will keep telling you how much she dislikes it, trust me I know. There's one good look out point where you can see the waterfall but you're not very close to it. Other than that spot you can't ever really see it. When you get to the top of the waterfall the angle is bad and you can't actually see the bottom or the water go off the cliff. I will say the water at the top is nice, clear and refreshing to get in. If you like pain with no payoff, this is for you, you masochist.

Hiked the loop today (7/29/18). Parking across the dam at the trailhead was limited. Started at 10:30 am. Went counter clockwise. Very steep up the creek to the falls. Eventually it leveled out to picnic area about 1.5 miles in. The trail around to the east was very nice and well maintained. Not a lot of views and the trail was in shade most of the way. From the where the trail went back down to the lake, the trail back to the original trail at the falls was long. Probably because it was hot and it seemed to keep going and going and going. Once at the turn off at the falls and back to parking, the rest of the hike was all down hill. The guide says it is 7+ miles but my iPhone activity said I went 9.3 miles. I do a lot of hiking and this distance seemed more accurate.

hiking
23 days ago

This hike was fun and had great views of a waterfall and some cool rock formations, but the trail was poorly marked. We had our two-year-old in a pack with us, and some areas were a bit precarious for carrying a kid.

Much of the trail is exposed so wear a hat and bring sunscreen. Lots of loose rocks, so wear good footwear.

Overall, this hike is totally worth checking out, but with all of the cool trails in northern CA, I’m not sure I’ll do this one again.

Cataract falls is an amazing trail. Lots of sights to see and the creek runs along the trail. There are signs all along the way with steps and rails to
Keep you sure footed. Be sure to arrive early because it will definitely get crowded after noon. Parking can be limited as well if you arrive late. All in all great trail and I definitely recommend it for the family hikers with kids. Enjoy!

We thoroughly enjoyed this hike. Easy to moderate at times with absolutely stunning views. Lots of water to cool off in along the way. Would definitely recommend you do this hike!

hiking
25 days ago

We were looking for a reasonably challenging hike with great views that we could do in under two hours. While no way to make the entire trail that quick, it was perfect, with a wide, well groomed trail through at least the first two miles. Super close to downtown Calistoga. Looking forward to going back to do the full trail.

hiking
25 days ago

The hike was steep and therefore difficult. We went up to the top of the Rubicon. There were only very few people doing the hike. The hike path is marked with stones. And we went up to the peak. It’s a bit dangerous and getting there isn’t really marked because I guess it’s not a part of the hike. But we made it up there and enjoyed the view. It took us 6hrs up and down but we made a lot of stops. And the stops weren’t short.

Definitely deserving of the hard rating. Hiking boots are a MUST, seen far too many people wearing tennis shoes which won't have enough grip for the granite faces near the base of the falls. After carefully navigating up the faces and once you enter the talus fields, Take time to visualize a route after each section of the climb, lot better use of your time than having to backtrack to find the right route through the talus fields. Climb over 800 feet of vertical in about a 1/4 mile. Hike evens out at the top of the falls, but all the effort is rewarded by mountain peaks as far as the eye can see. Clocked 8.4 miles, but wondered around Ropi Lake for about two hours before heading back. I've hiked this trail numerous time, so with my knowledge of the routes going up the falls, this hike only takes about 5 hours while spending 2 hours at Ropi Lake. Great Lake to swim and rest on the granite slabs in the sun at.

This is a beautiful hike. 85-90% shaded the entire way. My suggestion is to park along Emigrant Trail near the 2nd dam (parking option 3 shown on the map) and take the lake clockwise. You have to walk through some camp areas but it never felt intrusive. Not a ton of signage, but if you are not sure which way to go just take the path that keeps you along the lake.

Great views of the city and plenty of elevation change to raise the bpm.

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