Cataract Falls Trail, High Marsh, Kent Trail, and Helen Market Trail

HARD 136 reviews
#3 of 78 trails in

Cataract Falls Trail, High Marsh, Kent Trail, and Helen Market Trail is a 6.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Fairfax, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. 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
6.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,794 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

trail running

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

rocky

See Marin County's most scenic waterfalls. Cataract Creek Trail offers a perfect excuse to play hooky from work or spend a vacation day in the woods. The creek's waterfalls provide a spectacular anchor for a 7-mile loop through the scenic lands of the Mount Tamalpais Watershed. The loop includes scenic vistas stretching to the Pacific Ocean, narrow single-track into the wooded hillsides into forests of young redwood and Douglas fir. Marin County has over 500 miles of trails; these are among the best.

hiking
5 days ago

Hands down one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve been on. Got lost a couple times somehow so ended up doing almost 13 miles. Went counter clockwise like people mentioned and I didn’t see anyone until 3/4 of the way in which was awesome. This place is simply stunning with crazy views all around before the hike starts and then nothing but streams and waterfalls the last half of the way. So worth it!

hiking
muddy
rocky
7 days ago

This is definitely NOT 6.5 miles. My roommate and I measured close to 10. It was beautiful and worth it but it was definitely long. I wasn’t quite mentally prepared for 10 miles so that’s why it gets 4 stars instead of 5.

hiking
7 days ago

Amazing scenery, gorgeous hike. It is about 9 miles, not 6.5 as shown in the app.

hiking
12 days ago

April 7,2019. With all the rain we’ve had this winter, the waterfalls are loud! The moss on the trees, rocks,everywhere is a vibrant lime green. This route was completed around 4rs with several rest breaks taken. Probably can finish in 3 hrs non-stop. I will definitely hike it again

hiking
muddy
14 days ago

hiking
22 days ago

i did this trail today it’s one of the best trails i hiked 98% of the trail is shaded serous ascend and descend water falls are awesome the only reason i gave 4 stars is the crowd.. it’s too crowded at the first 1.5 miles along cataract falls too many people so i didn’t enjoy much that trail but as soon as i hit High Marshal going to kent trail it’s just me and nature and few people along the way... over all it’s and awesome trail

hiking
27 days ago

It is a great hike if you can tolerate a crowded trail along the falls. The falls are much more than the earlier expectations, they are many and beautiful. Once past the falls, the number of people drops significantly and you get to be in the son for a few minutes here and there. This is important since most of the hike is under the trees canopies. Once past the meeting with the lake, I was under the feeling that the hike will end soon however, it is still another an hour plus of uphill and downhill that really gives the feeling of its difficulty level. My phone clocked 7.5 miles but we did a little detour. Overall, highly recommended.

hiking
1 month ago

Serious uphills with nearly endless steps and some flat downhill sections for running. An excellent hike and workout. Beautiful on a warm day with the waterfalls kicking and only about five or six other hikers I met on the whole loop!

hiking
1 month ago

The junction with the High Marsh trail isn't exactly where AllTrails shows it to be. It appears they've rerouted the trail to prevent erosion. Respect the the signs and keep hiking up Cataract Trail and you'll eventually see a sign for the new High Marsh junction. In other news, the falls are currently the best of seen them with the recent rains.

3 months ago

Crowded. Once you get past the falls, you see fewer people. Larger trails are decently well-marked, but it is possible to take a small trail by accident. High Marsh was easily the best part of the hike!

hiking
3 months ago

It is challenging, but stunning. You get beautiful woodland as well as gorgeous hill top views. Wear good footwear, bring lunch and plenty of water and stop to enjoy the amazing beauty.

4 months ago

This trail will kick your butt about 80% of the time. Take breaks as needed, bring lots of water and a joy the beauty.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike but it is really long. Once you are down to the lake it seems like it will never end. I took two kids and we made it!

6 months ago

Great!

hiking
7 months ago

They are not kidding about this being a hard trail. I measured almost 9.5 miles. It took me a solid 3.5 hours with no breaks. I ran about a mile of it. Lots of steep stairs and inclines. Helen Markt Trail was a killer. I felt like it wasn’t going to end. This is definitely a tough one even for the seasoned hiker! Lots of beautiful scenery and wildlife: Bring lots of water and snacks.

hiking
8 months ago

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
8 months ago

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!

hiking
8 months ago

I loved this hike!!! Definitely going to do this again but earlier in the morning (i would suggest to start at 9:00am). My boyfriend and I started at 12:00pm and ended around 3:00pm. Bring snacks to eat and lots of water. Hardest part was driving there and parking, but thats why i would suggest to get their early.

hiking
9 months ago

Definitely one of the most beautiful trails I’ve been to. Will come back for sure!

Grueling but sooooo worth it. One of the most gorgeous hikes the bay has to offer!

hiking
10 months ago

Definitely difficult but absolutely beautiful and worth the effort. Completed the 7.5 miles with our dog on leash.

hiking
11 months ago

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.

hiking
11 months ago

- 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.

hiking
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A bit rough on the old joints but awesome hike.

hiking
Wednesday, April 04, 2018

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.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

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

hiking
Monday, April 02, 2018

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.

hiking
Friday, March 30, 2018

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.

hiking
Friday, March 30, 2018

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!

hiking
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

steps steps and more steps.

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