Explore the most popular river trails in Mount Tamalpais Watershed with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Trails maintained well. Great views and numerous waterfalls from the get-go. Trail stats says 7.7 miles but my Garmin Fenix 5x says we did 10 miles.

Come early if you want to find parking close to the trailhead as it gets crowded later in the day.

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.

hiking
25 days ago

Went hiking on this trail today with some friends. Absolutely beautiful trail. Great views of the falls. It’s a clime to the top, but worth the workout. A fare amount of stairs. Lots of wild flowers. Shaded in most areas. Dog friendly.

- Parking: very easy and plentiful, even arriving late on a sunny Saturday morning; park near the trail start
- Scenery: amazing, and quite varied! Cataract Trail is almost completely wooded and you'll see small waterfalls. Near the middle of the hike, you'll enter a beautiful expanse of green hills and flowers; it looked a little like the Wizard of Oz.
- Wildlife: we saw deer and a sleeping owl during the trail :) No birds.
- Bathrooms: there was 1 portable potty at the parking lot
- Shoes: the inclines were mostly stairs, so regular exercise shoes worked fine for me. The declines / inclines were not gravely / sandy.

Amazing waterfalls and pools all along the cataract falls trail

A bit rough on the old joints but awesome hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Positives:
-good exercise with the incline on the way out and the way back.
-beautiful views
-waterfalls are always a treat
Negatives:
-we went on a nice spring day with a high temp of ~70, it was very warm with direct sun and only a small portion of the trail in the shade
-traffic through Fairfax was a nightmare. Took us an hour from Novato to get to the trailhead
-no bathrooms, few places to step off the trail with privacy

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

start at the bottom near the reservoir and work your way up. fun little challenge nice waterfall the whole hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful scenery of the waterfalls (post rain). Feels like you’re in a rainforest or jungle. Parked at Rock Springs (watershed) trail head & hiked all the way down to Alpine Lake & back. Total was a little over 8 miles w/ a slight detour on the way back. Be cautious that parts of the trail are unmarked. But if you stay along Cataract Creek you’ll be fine. Lots of steps, great workout. Halfway there is a picnic area to rest by the creek which was nice. Lots of shade & my dog enjoyed it as well.

hiking
1 month ago

Arrived at 9 am and completed around noon. Pretty hike with lots of variation of height, steams, and views. Very dog friendly which was nice. Was a bit wet when I went due to recent rainfall which made parts muddy. Was very packed when we left at noon

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.

Gorgeous hike after a big storm. A bit muddy but not too bad. Lots of company—but to be expected since the waterfalls were in full force. There are a ton of steps, uneven, a bit of scrambling in parts. Coming down requires more concentration, going up takes more lung power. A good workout both ways.

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.

Great little hike. It was my first time there and I really enjoyed it. Although it was mid day and a great number of others.

One of the most scenic hikes in the area. The waterfalls are amazing. We took a detour to the top of the hill across the Ridgecrest road to find some breathtaking 360 views down to Stinson beach. It was a perfect spot for lunch. It adds about 1.5 miles to the hike but is absolutely worth it.

A multitude of views, such a beautiful loop! Waterfalls, forest, meadows, lake, marshes. l'd definitely do this one again!

hiking
1 month ago

The majority of the hike is open air with no shade. Once you get to the tree line cover it’s a pretty hike. The Falls still had water. I would recommend once you see the first waterfall continue hiking down and around. The really pretty view is further down with multiple pools and falls. The dogs on leash rule is real. Park rangers peruse the area and will issue citations if caught off leash with your fur friends. The trail is also rocky in the beginning.

All future hikes will be in tough competition with this gorgeous beauty. The first mile (stairs, steps, stairs, steps, etc) is tough but the scenery is breathtaking. Cataract Falls Trail was crowded with both hikers and people strewn about the waterfalls. You can't blame them, it's awesome and peaceful. It's easy to miss the High Marsh Trail when it veers off to the left. (If you hit the open meadow and road, turn back). This is where the loop gets really unique. From deep forest to Alpine meadow to streams and the lake. Other people have said it, fuel up at the lake, you'll want to for the next mile up! That climb at the end makes the return trip down Cataract even more heavenly.

First mile or so was a climb, but there were beautiful falls to view along the way up. We went in March and there was plenty of water falling.

Arrived around 8:00 am—saw only 1 other person during first couple of hours, but trail crowded going down around 11:00. Ascent along the creek invigorating. Gorgeous views of falls and pools. After split off Cataract, terrain interesting: grassy hillsides, dry forests, marshes, rocky deserts, streams, etc, etc. Moments of utter silence in the forest. Woodpeckers. Frogs. Mosquitoes. Mosses. Ferns. Lots of shade. A fun hike though my Achilles’ tendons are aching!

This trail is all stairs but it’s totally worth it for all those amazing falls. Makes me feel like I’m in some sort of fantasy land while still getting a workout

hiking
1 month ago

Loved this hike/nature walk! There’s limited parking on the residential street at the trailhead. Gorgeous view of the mountains at the start, then a steep decline into the valley where it gets shadier. The trail goes along the creek and there’s a very pretty waterfall at one point. We did about 2.8 miles total which took an hour and a half. Very nice scenery, will definitely return!

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.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazingly magical place, especially on a nice day after a rainy season. It was just the perfect amount of challenging, and the scenery didn't let you get bored even for a minute. Go early in the morning if you prefer a more secluded hike; after 12pm this trail gets pretty busy (although, not overwhelmingly). Hubby and I actually decided to hike from the start of the Cataract Trail near the lake all the way to the beginning of Rock Springs Trailhead, and we found it to feel more complete. I'd suggest parking at the parking lot near the entrance to Rock Springs Trailhead and then walking all the way until the entrance to Cataract Trailhead. Have fun exploring!

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