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

HARD 205 reviews
#3 of 83 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

bird watching

running

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
9 days ago

Difficulty: only moderate - Quick elevation only near the waterfall area and supported by good steps - Trail super smooth/well-maintained, which makes things easier Highlights: - CCW approach worked for me since the Helen Marsh Trail section was the most scenic (surrounded by trees). Other areas mostly open - Only saw two runners aside from Cataract Falls area. Very peaceful! - My gluts hurt for 2 days afterwards Downside: - Have to see any impressive waterfalls unfortunately!

hiking
17 days ago

Beautiful and well-maintained trail. The hike is very scenic with a lot of diversity: water, mountains, pastures, greens. The trail is safe. All of the elevation gain happens in the beginning and in the shaded area. There are a few short stretches in the open full of spectacular views. Highly recommend. One callout is the steep left turn at 1.1 mile point is not marked and is easy to miss without GPS tracking.

Great hike. Recommend going CCW

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Gorgeous hike. Varied terrain with peacefulness throughout. Strenuous, but fun. Crowded on Cataract trail near the waterfalls but no one around once I got onto High Marsh and the rest of the trail loop. Would recommend and will go again!

hiking
1 month ago

Waterfalls were pretty weak when I went in late September but walk is good, challenging at times. Lakefront is the most scenic part of the route

hiking
1 month ago

Loved this trail! My garmin said 7 miles round trip from the trailhead in 2.5 hours at a very quick walking pace. There’s very clear signage and was really nice in the crisp Fall air... will be even better after some rain.

hiking
1 month ago

Gorgeous hike. Lots of varied terrain, beautiful waterfalls even in late summer. Gorgeous views of the lake at one point. Strenuous, but not too much, just lots and lots of stairs in the beginning. Very crowded on Cataract trail near the waterfalls, but literally no one was around once we veered onto High Marsh and the rest of the trail loop. Would highly recommend.

hiking
2 months ago

This trail is great to hike right after the rains, however I hiked it in the mid of summer and still found it nice... I usually hike it backwards though due to the concentration of elevation change. You get some truly great views once you summit near the end. Definitely recommend

hiking
2 months ago

beautiful, easy/moderate trail. Definitely lots of stairs though! The waterfall is kind of dried out right now, I suggest going during the winter or after its rained. My friend and I started at the bottom and worked our way up to the laurel dell picnic area which took us about one hour.

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail! Everything was well marked and easy to follow. Quite a climb up at first but beautiful small waterfalls to enjoy with the climb. Loved the variety of scenery along the trail and also that it had a lot of coverage and was shaded most of the time. We drank up all of our water by the end so definitely bring plenty of water and some snacks for the hike. We finished the hike in about 4.5 hours rather than the suggested 6 hours even with short breaks and about 15 minutes break for a snack type lunch. We kept a swift pace most of the time.

hiking
bugs
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

Absolutely ADORE this trail. It’s challenging but definitely fun and doable. It is however 8.5 miles. I’ve tracked via Fitbit (x4) and AllTrails (x1) with both claiming the same distance every time. Also love that it is dog friendly! :) Pro tip, watch out for mosquitoes in the summer!

Amazing hike but tough. But it is more miles than it says.

hiking
4 months ago

Started at 7:45 AM and it was peaceful and quiet. It was a bit chilly at first, but we warmed up immediately after starting. There’s no parking there. We were first to arrive, so plenty of side road space to leave the car. Take plenty of water. I finished my 32 Oz right before the end. We completed the trail in 3 hours. My Garmin Forerunner 935 logged 6.7 miles and 2180 ft elevation gain.

hiking
4 months ago

Stunning and yet very hard. I agree with the previous post we logged 9.1 (not 6.5 stated here) miles, 22,473 steps and 174 floors. It took us six hours to do this loop and it was up and down and up and down and up and down. It was absolutely stunning and lots of shade, running water, and incredibly peaceful

5 months ago

This trail is much longer than stated; our various devices clocked it at 10 and 12 miles respectively. It took us 5-1/2 hours with only a 15 minute lunch break and a few short rest stops. It’s a steep uphill, a steep downhill and then back up and down again with many stairs. Not for the casual hiker. That said, it was beautiful, with varied scenery from waterfalls and redwoods to grasslands, oaks and manzanitas. Lots of wildflowers!

hiking
muddy
rocky
5 months ago

Great trail with beautiful full flowing cataract falls. I went clockwise, stopping by the lake before making the intense climb up. Alternatively, going counter-clockwise while heading upstream has better views of the falls, but the climb involves heading up steep stairs. Terrain is a good mix of lake, forest, meadow, and waterfall with a lot of elevation change. Parts of the trail involved light stream crossings and some muddy parts. I followed the trail in the app and clocked 7.2 miles in 3.5 hours using this app as a tracker.

hiking
6 months ago

This is a longer hike than it stated on here. We did the hike yesterday, and did the whole loop (clockwise). Our Apple watches recorded the total miles of 11.8 miles since we started from the Cataract trail head where we parked our car, all the way up to the waterfalls, then continued onto Helen Market, High Marsh trails, Kent Trail, and back to Cataract trail. And most of the hike was continuous inclines with serious up hills and downs and many stairs up and up and up. Definitely strenuous. But most of the trails are shaded, thanks goodness for that. We reached the last summit (Kent) which is open space with beautiful flower field; overlooking an amazing view down the mountain. From here we made our way back down to Cataract trail and was only less than 2 miles. Took us 6.5 hours to do the whole loop as we stopped to take a break here and there at some places; to catch our breath, to have our snacks and lunch, and for our pup to play. There were only 3 of us and our pup in the trails most of the time all the way up to the summits. If we didn’t have our pup, probably could finish it in 4 hours. Only encountered few people (4-6 people) mostly backpackers and hikers like us, taking the same routes but coming from opposite direction after 3/4 way of the whole journey which was pretty awesome. Cataract trail was too crowded with visitors who come only to see the waterfalls; so we decided to avoid the crowd and do the trails most people won’t; unless you’re a hardcore hikers like us. The park ranger called us “badass girls” Lol. All in all was an amazing hike and great work out for us and our pup. We’ll do it again in a heart beat. I agreed this is a hard hike; only recommended it to those who are physically fit enough.

hiking
6 months ago

Definitely a longer hike than listed on here...I would say about 7.5 to 8 miles. Lovely trail in the shade in the forest, but no open views I was hoping for. Cataract trail was beautiful. I started the hike early so crowds was not an issue.

hiking
7 months 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 months 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.

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