Matt Davis Trail to Cataract Trail

HARD 27 reviews

Matt Davis Trail to Cataract Trail is a 11.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Stinson Beach, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is accessible year-round.

11.2 miles
3343 feet
Out & Back


trail running





no dogs

1 month ago

This is a great hike with a nice variety of views and a good work out. I took the Willow camp fire road as another reviewer suggested, I glad I did as it gave some different coastal views but beware it is a bit steep.

3 months ago

I hiked Cataract Falls before during the dry season. But it was mid-March this time and the Bay Area had received a healthy dose of rain all week, so I wanted to return to see the falls in all their splendor.

Hiking to the falls from Stinson Beach certainly adds a degree of difficulty and is great for the more adventurous hiker. Beginners should probably start at the trail head at the southern tip of Alpine Lake.

I really enjoyed the Matt Davis ascent up the west side of Mt. Tam. All the switchbacks and bridges and steps make for an fun hike.

The coastal trail gave me an unexpected surprise about half-way from Matt Davis to Cataract Falls. Right below Ballou Point, you'll come across an old 1940's Pontiac wrecked right along the trail. I'm guessing it took a tumble down from Ridgecrest Blvd. about half a century ago.

The Cataract Trail was so amazing after all the recent rainfall. Everything was so lush and the falls were spectacular.

On the way back, I took the advice of another reviewer and went down the Willow Camp Fire Road instead of crossing back over the coastal trail to return via Matt Davis to Stinson Beach. I would also recommend this as it shaves a mile off the overall hike and offers some different views of Stinson Beach looking to the north. The trail is called a fire road, but it was mostly a single track until you get close to the bottom, so don't let that deter you.

4 months ago

Matt Davis trail is a nice stroll in the park. Cataract Trail, I was very impressed with the waterfalls. For an added challenge, don't go on the Coastal Trail as the map suggests. Take a slight right, go up the hill and take one of the paths to Rock Springs Trailhead to get back onto Cataract Trail. I logged 14 miles in 5 hours.

Nice and hardest trail. That too initial 2.0 miles from Stinson beach is the best I have experienced it ever. Really worth for 5 star

trail running
10 months ago

Awesome trail running. Very scenic and beautiful.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A beautiful hike that passes through three environments in quick succession. The hike begins on the well-trafficked Matt Davis Trail, which snakes its way up the western side of Mount Tam. The trail is heavily forested and follows a medium stream (with a few waterfalls). The trail itself is composed of dirt, wooden stairs, and stone stairs; it's mostly a natural, single-track trail that is perfect for hiking.

The trees suddenly disappear on the Coastal Trail as we were greeted by beautiful views of Stinson Beach and a remarkably green landscape. The walk along the ridge is somewhat leisurely without much elevation gain or loss, and there are plenty of picturesque moments (aided by how green and lush everything is due to the recent rainfalls).

The trail down to Cataract Falls is established, well-trafficked, and beautiful. There are four waterfalls/cascades before Cataract Falls, each of which you can see up close from the trail. It winds its way down through an oak/redwood forest and is complemented by the roaring Cataract Creek the entire time. Cataract Falls were flowing considerably when I went (after a rainfall) and provided for a memorable view.

My father and I took the Willow Camp Fire Road down (instead of the typical out and back), and to our surprise, it was mainly a single-track trail. The views as we descended were great, particularly because the day was clear. We finished the hike with a bit of roadwalking back to the car.

Overall, a remarkable hike that provides you with the opportunity to see Cataract Falls (even with the road closure). Have fun!

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