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

HARD 148 reviews
#3 of 48 trails in

Cataract Falls Trail, High Marsh, Kent Trail, and Helen Market Trail is a 7.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Fairfax, California that features a waterfall 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
7.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1945 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

scramble

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
4 days ago

A bit rough on the old joints but awesome hike.

hiking
18 days ago

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.

19 days ago

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

hiking
20 days ago

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
23 days ago

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
23 days ago

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
1 month ago

steps steps and more steps.

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely beautiful! As the previous reviews say, the beginning of the hike is vigorous for roughly 1.5 miles but stunning! I took my dog and she did great, there are a fair amount of stairs so going down was a little harder on her but other than that very dog friendly! We arrived at 7:30am and we're the first hikers out there but by the time we were done 4 hours later the trail/parking area was swamped so head out early and enjoy this beautiful hike by beating the crowd!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike, lots of climbing but its worth it. Finding a parking spot is little challenging on busy weekends but not bad!

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike. Hard work at the beginning, but totally worth it.

2 months ago

I would rate this hike "hard". It's about four hours of hiking with a lot of climbing but it's worth the effort.

2 months ago

Loved the hike! The weather was perfect and was glad to have beat the crowd.

2 months ago

Great trail! Tough at the beginning, but the falls are worth it. The lake makes for a nice lunch break.

hiking
2 months ago

This trail was beyond fabulous! The first part is waterfall central, you basically ascend very quickly, following the waterfall up a steep incline. After about a mile or so, the trail starts to even out and you reach a fork in the road. One arrow points to Cataract Trail, the other to High Marsh Trail. If you want a nice spot to sit and eat lunch by the river, and if you want to use the bathroom before the rest of the long hike, go toward Cataract Trail. There is a porter potty at the trail head, also.

If you choose to snack at the picnic area, you can backtrack and follow High Marsh Trail at the fork, which takes you out of the forest and onto an open stretch where you can see a gorgeous view from the side of the mountain. And then it’s into the forest again!

We saw so many different types of fungi- they were so diverse! We also saw small orchids, and bulb plants about to bloom. I’d like to go back and see what types they turn out to be! After switching to Kent Trail, we descended and found ourselves overlooking Alpine Lake, and we met a yellow-bellied salamander close by. We crossed creeks and walked past a Marsh, as well.

All in all, the Trail was beautiful and (except for the initial waterfall part) quiet. There were times it seemed like I was the only person in the forest.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike with many rewarding views!!

hiking
3 months ago

Incredibly busy up until the junction than peaceful and hardly a person after turning left to do the loop clock wise. Gorgeous views up top.

hiking
3 months ago

Loved this loop! it was the perfect combination of steep ups and downs but with enough leveling out that you didn't get annoyed with it!

3 months ago

Logistically paths are narrow and often you're walking along a cliffside so be sure to go with caution if youre planning on taking a pup with you. otherwise, this was strenuous but worth it given the amazing views and how deep into the forest you got.

hiking
3 months ago

Great challenge especially at the altitude! Took me a bit to get acclimated especially since you start climbing straightaway. Loved the different types of trails you encounter on this loop.

3 months ago

I could not ask more for a hike. It is not an easy hike. By the time you hit the high marsh you have climbed stairs for 2 miles... once you are down Kent trail be prepared for another mile long climb. Fitbit showed me 10 miles alltogether from the cataract trailhead. Beautiful all the time.

hiking
4 months ago

Great hike waterfalls bridges great scenery. Bring plenty of water and good hiking shoes

hiking
4 months ago

Pretty good hike! Lake’s water level was low but hopefully after winter rain it’ll be higher along with the waterfall’s flow. We will be back! Also our iPhones/ fit bits logged 9-9.5 miles... and 192 flights climbed so bring enough water and snacks and comfy shoes

6 months ago

Cataract Falls had many people hiking on a Sunday afternoon, but once you get onto High Marsh there's no one to be found. Challenging at first and then evens out. Slightly uninteresting hike for the most part, but a good workout.

hiking
8 months ago

Up Cateract is a burner....High Marsh is pure heaven....Down Kent to the lake then Helen back to trailhead....save something for the last 1.5 miles, gets us every time....approx 4hrs

8 months ago

Such a great hike! Everything about this hike is just beautiful! A must do!

8 months ago

Very beautiful, definitely would say it's moderate/strenuous. I hike quite a bit, and coming back up this was definitely a bit challenging. Just to warn those with bad knees, or youngsters. Will definitely be back though!!!

9 months ago

Beautiful trail...great workout!!!

hiking
10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

Be prepared for a good workout if you plan on hiking the entire loop. Bring plenty of water, a little snack, good shoes and good times.

10 months ago

The Stairs were no joke!! Started and parked at Rock Spring parking lot-Ridgecrest Blvd(top of mountain) down to Cataract Falls and Alpine Lake (bottom). Fitbit shows about 8 miles round trip (down,then up).

There were about 3 Small waterfalls.

Overall beautiful, Challenging, and Shaded hike

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