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A great starter backpacking trip, although I recommend having one experienced backpacker in your group. We split this into 3 days and for us it was the perfect amount of time. Beautiful scenery, especially between Big Basin and Waddell Beach, where you feel like you've stepped back in time to the prehistoric days. Hips and feet were a bit sore by the end of the third day. Taking off my boots and putting my feet in the water has never felt so good!

Super easy and quick trail w amazing views

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.

One of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.

12 days ago

I will admit, we didn’t get the ascend part right, we were sort of all over the place! But what a great place to get lost. Appropriate hiking boots and an open mind are a must. The whole surroundings look like a painting, it’s so surreal.
Best advice: look for trail markers like stacked rocks, treaded paths and other giveaways because you could be easily deterred every 500 feet or so if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. The nice thing is, because you’re in a bowl like setting, you know which way is back to the start.
What a reward, though, when the waterfall is at full blast! Amazing experience and highly recommended.

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.

Fun trail. The stairs were fine (novice-moderate hiker, here). Great views of the Bay.

Awesome view of the falls. Easy hike. Was crowded on a Saturday afternoon as one would expect.

Great views here and only a mile or so to get there from trail entrance

22 days ago

Did this with my husband for our anniversary a year ago. My first official backpacking trip! We took 3 days. Tips for the person picking you up, be sure they know where they are going! A breakdown in communication had us waiting almost 2 hours, there is no cell service at Waddell Beach. I would do it again and split the hike into two sections instead of three. I would also stay an additional night in Big Basin to explore that area more!

Four of us decided to do the Saratoga Gap to Waddell Beach hike all in one day. In order for us to accomplish it form sunrise to sundown we needed to run a good portion of it. We estimate we ran about 15 miles of it with on and off with breaks of course. We are all active, but none of us are long distance or avid runners. The trail is well marked and soft and moderate for the most part. It was difficult and arjurous trek to do in one day. We took 8 hours total with about 1 to 1.5 hours of breaks. We took a long break at big basin where we grabbed a quick bite at the store, then kept going until we hit the beach at 3:45pm.

I would not recommend hiking this entire trail in 1 day unless you can keep a 3.5 mph speed non stop, otherwise you are looking at a 12-14 hike to complete without running.

To the guy that complained about view and there only being redwood trees. He is right there are only redwood trees, lots of them. The only complaint I have is not of the trail itself ,but of the beach. It was very sandy and I got it all over my feet and inside my shoes way too sandy for my taste.


Crowded but sublime.

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.

Beautiful views! But the trail is fairly easy to lose.

Crowded... but a very nice, iconic view, definitly worth the stop...very friendly to non athletic types...sidenote: you can just park on the hwy instead of going into the parking lot...fyi

Beautiful hike through the redwoods. We did it in a day. The only problem was it was a 30 mile hike not 25 as it is called out here. That meant our timing got messed up. We were supposed to reach the sea by sunset and instead had to hike the last part with flashlights and missed the sunset!

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.

....planning this for the first time. gonna break it into two days from big basin. Just not sure how I am getting up to big basin yet...and back home.

I ended up only doing Cataract Trail because I got a late start. I made a huge mistake parking at the Rock Spring parking lot instead of the Watershed parking lot. The majority of this trail is on a steep incline, so I ended up starting downhill and ending uphill. It was strenuous but beautiful. I had the trail to myself most of the way out which was really nice. I loved this trail!

You can also park at the Pantoll Station and hike down to Stinson Beach either from Dipsea or Steep Ravine, and hike back up either way.

Unfortunately it was very foggy today and thus we could not see the ocean or the waterfall. The walk was a leisurely and lovely ( not sure I would call it a hike). Looking forward to trying it again when the day is more clear!

Hiked 13.1 mi. Gained 2480ft in elevation.

BEAUTIFUL trails! We went in thinking it was a 7.5 mi 1745ft gain hike but really it's 13 miles with 2480 gain in elevation... I wish this could be edited because we were in for quite a long hike.

Pack lunch and plenty of water! We took this trail in reverse, counter-clockwise. We had lunch at Alpine Lake which took us 1.5 to 2 hours to reach at a steady pace. Most of the way there was downhill so be sure to side-step to save your toes! After the lake we headed to the waterfalls which was all on an uphill incline, and then the trail back to our car was on a heavy incline as well (lots of stairs) with the last leg (about 0.9mi) being a flat meadow. Be prepared to work!

Even though we hiked 5 miles more and gained 700ft more than this says in elevation it was well worth the work! Our feet and legs were doggone dead LOL but it was so freakin gorgeous out! We saw lots of butterflies, different birds, and salamanders on a warm Feb day!

Hiked 13.2 miles
Gained 2142 ft elevation

Featured: Waterfall(s), meadow(s), vista(s)

Trail: Well maintained in most areas, legible trail markers (albeit confusing at times) most areas have no signal (pay attention to alltrails map) free parking (ticketed after sunset and locked in), the actual trail is 7.3 miles (begin on the right trail because you will head down hill and end your hike on even ground rather than reverse) relatively isolated in back areas. A beautiful place to star gaze and climb trees. Moderate/hard. (we took every wrong way possible. lol)

1 month ago

This was beautiful hike but I sure wish I had done it in spring. There was alot of snow and we kept losing the trail. We are experienced hikers and to so often lose the trail was frustrating. we had to keep pulling out the GPS.
The falls were amazing and parts of the hike was challenging for sure a good workout and breath taking views. strange it was right off the freeway. will do this one again with no snow.

Absolutely amazing❣️
One of my favorite local trails.

It was an amazing trip. Too my dad and I two days. It's best to have someone drop you off at the beginning and pick you up at the end.

1 month ago

So we dove head first into this trail as my first backpacking trip. Going in January was a risk but the weather was perfect. We started at Castle Rock staging area and headed towards Waterman Gap. The views here are epic and the trail was a great challenge. My friend and I were very wore out by the time we made it to Waterman Gap. It was a great day. Waterman Gap was a cool little place and we were glad to see there was a bathroom and water. We had our choice of sites since we were the first ones to arrive. I found a good site with perfectly spaced trees for my hammock. We were bummed you can’t have a fire. Woke up the next morning and headed out toward Jay camp. This was by far the toughest day. The climb out of camp is 3 miles long. Anyone that says this is “all downhill” never did this climb! Once we got to the top of China Grade we only had about 4.7 miles to get to Jay camp. We arrived at park headquarters at 4:15 and the gift shop closed at 4:00 so no goodies for us. We hikes to Jay camp and chose site 6 for the night. Barely found trees that worked with my hammock. We slept good and headed out about 9:00. We were both pretty sore headed into day 3 but this was by far the best day. Leaving headquarters brought us deep into the forest that felt like we were in a different world. We had to take a little detour because part of the trail was closed but the atmosphere made it worth while. Another 10.5 miles to the beach!! All in all it was an epic trip. Most of the people we met thought that we were crazy doing this hike as our first backpacking trip but we made it!!!

Lovely place after a rainy day!

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