Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

Cataract Falls Trail is a 3.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bolinas, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 3.3 mi Elevation gain 1,082 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

Kid friendly

Hiking

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Waterfall

Description
Waypoints (2)

The watershed remains open to the public, with some restrictions, for recreational use daily from sunrise to sunset. The recent county health order prohibits vehicles and parking at the watershed, with the exception of people with disabilities who have the required disability placards or license plates for their vehicles. Parking for those with disabilities is available at our Sky Oaks parking lot. While the watershed remains open, visitors must comply with social distancing requirements of at least 6 feet. All volunteer programs that take place on the watershed have been canceled until further notice. 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.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (1118)
Photos (2013)
Recordings (677)
Completed (3051)
Kody Cardana
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
HikingScramble
View Kody's Recording
Nadia Barbosa
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Jul 06 2020
HikingRocky

Short but challenging! The first half is almost all uphill with big steps and steep inclines. Almost all of it is shaded though which is good. Started at 8:45 am. Parking around the trailhead is limited to 5-6 cars. The trail itself isn’t wide and not everyone was wearing masks, and it got busy with kids and families on the return so I recommend coming as early as possible if you’re looking for solitude. Oh, and bring your bug spray!

Rita Ga
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
HikingRocky

July hike. First-time. Arrived at 8am. Breathtaking views. Cool in some areas. Be prepared for some rocky parts of the trail. Stairs and more stairs and more stairs involved so I recommend a hiking stick. Otherwise, in July, there was not much waterfall. This hike was rated moderate but I say it’s one notch over.

Nick Gulbrandsen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jul 05 2020
Hiking

Cool trail, with fun waterfall pools to hangout in if warm enough. Tons of people (some with masks, some without) all the foot traffic slowed us down a bit. Plan on starting early if you want an easier parking spot and some seclusion at the picnic area.

Buvi Ramanathan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
HikingBugs

Great hike!! Loved the entire trail, beautiful wildflowers and amazing elevation.. also shaded

Narayan Hebbar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
HikingBugs

Great trail. Lots of shade throughout the trail. Not a lot of water though. Should visit again during early spring or after rains.

View Narayan's Recording
Huda S.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jul 04 2020
Hiking

I’ve been wanting to do this trail forever! Based off other ppl’s recommendations, I started early-ish at 9:30, with lots of parking spots. It wasn’t busy going up. But on the way back, there were tons of ppl. 95% had masks on. Took me about 2 hours out & back. It’s very scenic and shaded throughout, with lots and lots of steps haha. So get those knee braces on! Unfortunately it’s really dry so the waterfalls were kinda mum.

Melissa Pouch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jul 04 2020
Hiking

Beautiful hike! The trail is lush and I enjoyed seeing Alpine lake. Got there around 9am and there were already a few groups on the trail but I was able to park easily. I enjoyed the tranquility on my way in- it got more crowded on my way back, but people were good about wearing their masks when passing others. Mostly shaded, lots of stairs

Paul Kenjora
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 03 2020
Hiking

Gorgeous trail and lots of stairs. Absolutely perfect afternoon hike up to the half mile marker with serene pool to picnic by. Several wooden bridges cross cross the falls. Hike is always in the shade, and the forest is fern lush. Also part of hike is along Alpine lake, and the dam is walking distance from trail head. Plan to see both. Pleases please please don’t leave garbage in thus trail.... it’s sad to see discarded wet wipes and energy drink cans here and there in the trail.

Chris Nguyen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 03 2020
Hiking

Great trail! Mostly shady. It's best to hike this trail early in the morning to beat the crowd and after a nice rainfall. It felt like the rain fairy sprinkled her magical fairy dust and turned this place into an enchanted forest. The trees, ferns, and other plants sparkled and danced with life after the rain. This is a buns burner. Happy hiking!

Amber Parks
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jun 29 2020
Hiking

Really great trail but also very steep! This was my first hike after taking a break for a couple years and I struggled a bit. The view is definitely worth it and there is an option to keep going past the waterfall, but keep in mind that this trail says moderate and not easy for a reason!

Angelina X
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jun 28 2020
Hiking

I can’t wait to see this trail in the early spring when the waterfalls and cascades are more abundant. This hike was a tough one for me. I have done a hike every weekend for 4 weeks now and this one takes the cake for the toughest. The incline is strait up with many stairs. There were a decent amount of rest areas. I have to mention that there was a lot of people on this hike, so know room to social distance. Some people wore masks and some didn’t. Put on bug repellant because there is a certain bug that can bite through your cloths! The bug me through my leggings and my long sleeve shirt. I only sprayed bug repellant on exposed skin. Otherwise, the hike was very scenic and I enjoyed most of it.

Carolina Aleman Franco
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jun 28 2020
Hiking

Great hike! I would recommend getting an early start. By the time we were heading back, there were a lot of people on the trail.

Ginger Tate
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 28 2020
Hiking

Nice trail very crowded but the farther you go the less people beautiful views will be doing again soon

Susan Yang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jun 27 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

Nice hike! Best to arrive at 7am to get the close parking. There was only 2-3 groups ahead of me. The view of the lake itself is beautiful and really relaxing to look at.

Sergio Morales
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jun 26 2020
Hiking

My family and I hiked this trail Thursday and was awesome. Lots of steps but 5 year old was able to do it all on her with some breaks I between. With it being a weekday there was not a lot of people. we found a great spot near the water to eat lunch before heading back down the trail.

Lanae Orais-Jones
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jun 22 2020
Hiking

Enjoyed the scenery. A bit much traffic wise for me. Hiking shoes a must

Magdalena Escobar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jun 21 2020
Hiking

Beautiful trail, shady most of the time. We went with our dog and had a great time there but it was very trafficked and not always enough space for social distancing. Arrive early and bring your mask!

Sarah Lawyer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSun Jun 21 2020
Hiking

Wayyyyyy too many people! Don’t do this hike if you don’t want to be around a bunch of people. Scenic and beautiful hike- just too many people!

Kaitlyn Pristash
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSun Jun 21 2020
Hiking

It was a good trail but there was no service in the area so I couldn’t open up this app to see the trail. I thought it was a big loop so when you hike the whole distance you have to walk ALL the way back up hill! I wish I would’ve known but thank goodness I found a nice family who drove me back to my car a half hour down the down! So just a heads up it’s not a loop so turn around at some point during the hike cause you will regret the hike back!

Lanae Orais-Jones
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 20 2020
Hiking

Lovely view when turning the corner to the beginning of the trail. It was a great workout took me and my sister 2 1/2 hours and we enjoyed the waterfalls and scenery. Will go again but probably much earlier as there was a lot of traffic

View Lanae's Recording
Michael Freimuth
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 20 2020
Hiking

Where should I park?

Priyanshi Jain
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 20 2020
Hiking

Open as of June 12.

Mayra Rojas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Jun 17 2020
Hiking

It was pretty cool! The only downside was there was waaaaay too many people there.

Magdalena Escobar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jun 14 2020
HikingRockyScramble
View Magdalena's Recording
Shivan B
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 14 2020
HikingRocky

Absolutely beautiful hike! Well shaded and quiet if you get there early enough. The waterfall(s) are stunning. Incline was no joke, but doable with the stairs and natural rock for footing. There is no set parking lot on the Fairfax-Bolinas road trailhead, so naturally parking is very limited. If you’re in the area, check it out!

Miriam Wyatt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 14 2020
Hiking

Siri and I did a quick hike with beautiful views of the forest and lakes/waterfalls.

View Miriam's Recording
Eduardo Limo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 14 2020
Hiking

This is an awesome hiking trail. We get there around 9:30. It was the perfect time not to many people, and we parked very close to the trail head. We just walked 0.8 miles as I went with kids they were a little tired to keep going, so we decided to stop in a watery hole we got some snacks and relax for a while there. The day was perfectly sunny. It was fun my family really enjoyed it. Definitely we got a come back.

Showing results 1 - 28 of 1118