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Matt Davis and Cataract Trail

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Mount Tamalpais State Park

Matt Davis and 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 nature trips and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 11.2 miles Elevation Gain: 3,343 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

no dogs

UPDATE (May 1, 2020): This park is temporarily closed to vehicular access, meaning there are no parking facilities and parking on roadways is prohibited to protect public health from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this park is open to local residents, they must abide by the following guidelines: Stay Local: Walk or bike into the park. Do not drive to the park. Stay Active: Keep walking, jogging, hiking and biking. Watch for one-way trails. Stay Safer at 6 Feet: Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Gatherings, picnics and parties are not allowed. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people at the park or on trails to allow for the required physical distance. Stay Clean: Be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash. Statewide, many parks and beaches are temporarily closed or have very limited access to ensure Californians are abiding and practicing physical distancing. The goals are to make sure people are safe and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. To view the list of closures and what they mean to the public, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

hiking
3 months ago

One of the best hikes - super green and creek along the way to reach the falls.

hiking
6 months ago

Amazing views

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike through some varied habitats. Amazing views if the clouds behave. I recommend continuing the hike just a bit till you reach the dam for another spectacular view.

hiking
10 months ago

Spectacular hike. Finished in 7.5 hours. Started in the fog and got soaked, upon arrival to Alpine Lake it was beautiful and sunny. So many water falls! The views on the way back were breathtaking.

hiking
Mon Apr 22 2019

Nice out a back that goes through the open hills then up into a picnic and parking area and down to some gorgeous waterfalls. The first half of this trail is gorgeous and relatively empty. The second half leads to a heavily trafficked trail near a parking area with lots of families. The waterfalls are beautiful and the trail well kept, but definitely crowded.

hiking
Sun Mar 31 2019

The trail is open again. It was closed due to trees being down, but they have been cleared.

hiking
closed
Sun Feb 17 2019

2/16/19 Update: the trailhead has “Do Not Enter” tape strewn in front of the foot bridge (at the starting point of trail). Unsure of reason for closure but possibly water related.

hiking
Mon Jan 28 2019

Gorgeous views of the beach, followed by some amazing waterfalls and a secluded lake. This trail was fun and challenging, but pretty crowded on the cataract trail. We also cut back along the service road as some other reviewers have mentioned. A little steep but the views were amazing!

hiking
Sun Sep 16 2018

Ok

Mon Jul 30 2018

gorgeous views, wonderful trail for a great workout/hike. Definitely bring plenty of water : I drank 3 liters and ran out for the last hour (luckily downhill by then)

hiking
Mon Jul 09 2018

Amazing view, spectacular trail, forest, meadow, ocean, creek. What do you want from a trail? Just two heads up: 1) Have enough water and snacks 2) Check the weather before heading off.

Sun Jul 01 2018

A bit too long to walk a loop, but it’s worth it.

hiking
Sun May 06 2018

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.

hiking
Sun Mar 18 2018

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. https://www.relive.cc/view/1459959373

hiking
Sun Feb 04 2018

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.

Sun Jan 14 2018

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

running
Sun Aug 06 2017

Awesome trail running. Very scenic and beautiful.

hiking
Sun Mar 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!

hiking
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