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Cataract Falls and Potrero Meadows Loop (Cataract, Helen Market, Kent, Benstein Trails)

MODERATE 377 reviews
#2 of 82 trails in

Cataract Falls and Potrero Meadows Loop (Cataract, Helen Market, Kent, Benstein Trails) is a 8.4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Mill Valley, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 8.4 miles Elevation Gain: 1,837 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

Enjoy the beautiful Catact Falls as it drains into the Alpine Lake, Manzinta groves, redwoods, and chaparral biomes offer a plethora of natural habits to relax and enjoy the soothing sighgts and sounds of nauture. (Cataract, Helen Market, Kent, Benstein Trails)

hiking
13 days ago

Stunning variety of environments. It felt like 4 hikes in 1. Nobody on the back side then jam packed on the cataract falls bit. I hiked counterclockwise and enjoyed the solitude before the crush. Love that I can bring the pup.

Awesome trail. Highly recommend going counter clockwise as others have said. First half was incredible, gorgeous views and didn’t see a single person on the trail until we reached the lake. Took us around 5 hours to complete the loop with frequent stops to take photos. The last half of the hike was extremely crowded and honestly not that exciting. I would recommend hiking to the lake and coming back the way you came. Overall easily 5/5 stars and would do again.

Trail was great! We took a few detours to make a portion of the trail a little easier. We had our dog with us and this was probably her most difficult hike. I’d rate this trail as strenuous. There are a lot of inclines and different types of terrain to go through. Trail was not too heavily trafficked and we went on a Saturday. It was very nice and peaceful. The halfway point was the lake and we stopped to have lunch. Would do this trail again but might start earlier in the morning. Beautiful hike with lots of trees! In the rainy season the falls would be better to see, it’s a small creek at this time of year. Took us 5 hours with a 20 min lunch break and a few other rest stops on the way back.

I would rate this as strenuous. Completed it counter clockwise and both directions had very steep parts. Gorgeous varied terrain and forest with a beautiful lake at the halfway point. Wear shorts, it gets hot! Awesome hike.

Hiked this w/ my three dogs. Went counter clockwise and saw only a few people on Kent trail. Almost all of the traffic is on Cataract trail. Majority of the elevation is down and up from Alpine Lake. Lots of loose rock on Kent trail down to Alpine Lake, so shoes w/ good traction recommended. Overall very beautiful trek, mostly shaded. Cataract trail runs alongside the stream to the falls, and sound of the running stream while hiking is soothing and peaceful. Pay attention to the trail markers otherwise you'll wind up on a different trail. GPS quite useful at all of the trail crossings.

hiking
3 months ago

My favorite dog-friendly hike! The trail is popular on the weekends and parking can be difficult. Hiking up the falls can be crowded but they will become less so once you get past the falls and onto the trails.

3 months ago

Decided to do it counter clockwise like others suggested and it was pretty sweet. Only saw 3 other hikers for the majority of the hike until I hit the falls. Took about 4.5 hours to compete

hiking
3 months ago

Parked at rock springs and did this loop counterclockwise. Fitbit said it was 11.01 miles and we did it leisurely in 5 hours. (We did get a bit turned around near laurel dell and ended up on high marsh trail for a bit). Varied scenery - redwood groves, meadows, manzanita, - and the up along the falls isn’t too steep. Moderate hike. Very pretty. Mostly shaded from the sun.

hiking
4 months ago

Friday 5/10/19 8am-1.45pm (added Mt West Peak) Counterclockwise. Total=11.3 miles. Sunny 50-60s but 90% under tree canopy. Hiker's Paradise. Well marked trails thru babbling brooks, towering trees, wildflower meadows, gushing streams, majestic views, and hardly a soul (except near Cataract Falls). As an avid Southern California hiker I am jealous of what you all up north have in your backyard. I've traveled to many places but it's incredible what is right here and few to trample on it. The quality of maintenance and service by California State Parks is to be commended. Only New Zealand does it better. Enjoy.

hiking
5 months ago

Love this trail, went clockwise and had a great workout on the last 3 or so miles. Shady and cool along the trail.

5 months ago

Went again on 04/06 and the entire trail was muddy. But insanely green. Lots of water. Misty and abundant water falls. Simply beautiful. If it's rains, do this loop. This is not hard but easy to moderate.

5 months ago

great hike.

hiking
5 months ago

Nice loop hike, went counter clockwise and didn't see many people until reached the falls. There is a great view of the ocean and San Francisco just a short hike past the parking area, go to the second hill to view (see my recording). Trail was a bit muddy still from the recent rains but made the falls all the nicer.

Second time doing this trail, its nicer if you go counter clock wise. Less trafficked and gives you a prettier finish. Would not consider this trail difficult, its more on the moderate side. It did rain a couple of days ago so its muddy but worth it. If you pay attention you’ll get a chance to see deer and plenty of birds. Would do it again.

The water is very high and parts of the trail are under a foot or so of water but what an amazing hike! Waterfalls everywhere. Had to detour by Potrero picnic area as the river was too high and hid the trail entrance

hiking
muddy
6 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike - especially along cataract trail which is waterfall after waterfall.

hiking
6 months ago

Awesome trail, quite busy as you approach the falls, but once you get farther out, you’ll have plenty of space to yourself. Stopped lakeside for lunch and saw maybe 5 people the entire way back. Ended up being so quiet on the trail that I ran into some deer and a coyote. Definitely a great day hike, and can be completed with time to spare to check out the East Peak near the visitor center to view the bay.

Great hike but cataract trail was mobbed

hiking
7 months ago

Good trail. The Falls were abundant and beautiful after 2 weeks of rain. Not too many people on the trail today. Followed the trail as described. This is a moderate hike, not hard. Mostly shaded. Some parts of this trail were muddy due to the rain, but doable. A few fallen trees to cross. The best parts were the beginning, hiking along the steams and the views of the waterfalls. Cataract Falls is a must see during the raining Spring season.

hiking
muddy
7 months ago

Great trail, but due to the weather some parts of the trail had fallen trees blocking the trail, also I recorded this exact hike and Strava recorded it as a 12.7 mile hike. So beware..

hiking
muddy
7 months ago

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