Cataract Falls Trail

MODERATE 297 reviews
#1 of 38 trails in

Cataract Falls Trail is a 2.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Fairfax, 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
2.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1020 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

waterfall

scramble

Cataract Falls is one of the most popular falls trails in Marin County within the San Francisco Bay Area. This is a great hike with scattered cascading waterfalls along the entirety of the trail. The trailhead is located off of Bolinas Fairfax Road, just past Alpine Lake. The falls are reached by Cataract Trail starting from Bolinas Fairfax Road. The trail follows Cataract Creek north. The trail shortly starts to climb uphill through a shaded forest and crosses the flowing creek several times. You will eventually reach Laurel Dell picnic area. If you continue on the trail past the picnic area, it will start to descend towards the upper falls. At the junction of Helen Markt Trail and Cataract Trail there is a nice pool where you can stop, take a break, and enjoy the great views. Although this is a short hike, it has a decent amount of elevation gain and is a good workout. If you wish to extend your hike, you can also start from the Rock Spring Trailhead. The best time to visit is after rainfall when the waterflow is heavier.

hiking
1 day ago

The creek and lake were low since there hasn't been much rainfall, but we still enjoyed the hike. The forest wast lovely, and surroundings peaceful as many have written. Also there was plenty of parking at the trailhead, without fees. We added a bit to the climb back towards Rock Springs by taking the Mickey O'Brien Trial to Simmons Trial. We were surprised to exit the forest and enter a rocky Manzanita filled landscape with a some nice views of the foothills. It was a great way to round out the hike, though steep at times.

hiking
2 days ago

Short steep hike with small waterfalls. Super green during winter. Definitely loved the peace and quiet!

hiking
2 days ago

hiking
6 days ago

Scenery constantly surprises you on this trail! Multiple waterfalls of varying lengths empty into small pools, surrounded by a moss and fern covered forest floor... you will not believe you are in Marin County! Many picturesque stops... foot bridges, lookout points, stairs made from wood, stones, and tree roots. Please be a responsible hiker with your garbage...pack in/pack out, this includes your little plastic puppy poo bags. Dogs are allowed ON LEASH. I went on a Monday, and only passed three sets of hikers (with two loose dogs) and one cyclist (which was crazy... way too many curvy steps for bikes). Nice picnic area at Laurel Dell. The sound of the waterfalls and babbling brook were icing on the cake.

hiking
7 days ago

Numerous waterfalls along the way and fairly limited crowds even on the weekends. Best to go right after rainfall

hiking
8 days ago

beautiful forresty scenery. the sound of the multiple waterfalls gave it a good vibe.

hiking
14 days ago

Beautiful hike along a nice waterfall. Be prepared to climb!! Great work out. Definitely recommend

hiking
15 days ago

hiking
16 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

Beautiful scenery through the woods very mossy, waterfall is best in winter time I'm sure, wasn't a lot of water there when we went today.

hiking
22 days ago

22 days ago

hiking
29 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

1 month ago

Simply beautiful.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago