Explore the most popular hiking trails near Fairfax with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Went the day after a rain storm a couple months ago. Awesome hike

Trails maintained well. Great views and numerous waterfalls from the get-go. Trail stats says 7.7 miles but my Garmin Fenix 5x says we did 10 miles.

Come early if you want to find parking close to the trailhead as it gets crowded later in the day.

I normally don't review trails but there doesn't seem to be very much info on this one. This is a very long hike with some very steep areas. Most of the trail was up and down, sometimes steep and narrow. Make sure you start early! It took me, my husband, and two dogs 6.5 hours to hike the whole thing with no stops. This was definitely on the slow side because there was a lot of doubling back and waiting to allow other hikers and dogs to pass (narrow trail!). It was a sunny but cool day when we went. If coming from Bolinas-Fairfax Rd from the Fairfax direction, it's later in the morning, and the weather is nice, find parking before the actual trailhead but after the dam. If you pass the trailhead, the road gets steep and there's no space to turn around. Parking gets difficult and walking up a steep road to get to your car after a 9 mile hike isn't something you want to do. There's one portapotty at the trailhead. Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. The first mile or so was crowded from people trying to get to the falls but after that we saw maybe 10 people. Most of the trail is shaded but there is a good 2 miles of full sun on an uphill climb when you hit the Rocky Ridge Fire Road near Bon Tempe. About a mile before that is also pretty exposed but it's the flattest and easiest part of the whole trail. We kept our dogs on leash and almost everyone I saw had theirs on leash too. The terrain is narrow and challenging enough that they'll probably be forced to stay near you. There are trail markers at all the forks. There is no cell service once you leave Fairfax. There's a bit of signal at the beginning by the falls and another taste of signal at the top of the fire road. Make sure you download the map on Google or have a printout. This is all stuff I wish I would have known before my hike and I hope it helps.

I had bit of confusion about parking (we lost cell service on the drive out, and Apple Maps plopped us on a residential street instead of the trailhead,) but we found our way over. Saw a sweet young deer and many squirrels. Really nice walk with a beautiful waterfall - my toddler and I really enjoyed ourselves!

Great trail! Beautiful scenery and great workout. The beginning is easy but then things get more challenging. Not recommandable for young children but I went with a dog and he really enjoyed it! It took me about 3 h.

Nice and easy. Lots of birds and butterflies.

hiking
15 days ago

Hiked up from the school clockwise. If you’re looking at the school there is a wooden fenced trail to the left which goes behind the school. From there you can find several trails.

Trail is pretty steep with switchbacks for the first 30 minutes or so.

Saw about 20 lizards in the first mile or so.

The first mile has some tall grasses so make sure to wear pants.

The trail itself was great - could use some better signage though.

Great trail. Lightly trafficked this past Sunday. Fairly easy terrain. Lots of ticks. Found at least 12 of them on my pup. It’s tick season, not much I can do about it.

Hiked clockwise around Lagunitas and then Bon Tempe. Hiking time 2 hours.

I loved the differing terrain on this hike. I agree with other reviewers, it felt a little more difficult than an “easy” hike considering how many stairs were involved...one of the best hikes I’ve been in the Bay Area!

This is one of my favorite hikes I have been on! It’s so quite and peaceful. I would 10/10 recommend going on this hike. However the is characterized as easy and I feel like that depends on the trail you pick, but some of the trail a moderate.

hiking
27 days ago

Went hiking on this trail today with some friends. Absolutely beautiful trail. Great views of the falls. It’s a clime to the top, but worth the workout. A fare amount of stairs. Lots of wild flowers. Shaded in most areas. Dog friendly.

mountain biking
28 days ago

Awesome

- Parking: very easy and plentiful, even arriving late on a sunny Saturday morning; park near the trail start
- Scenery: amazing, and quite varied! Cataract Trail is almost completely wooded and you'll see small waterfalls. Near the middle of the hike, you'll enter a beautiful expanse of green hills and flowers; it looked a little like the Wizard of Oz.
- Wildlife: we saw deer and a sleeping owl during the trail :) No birds.
- Bathrooms: there was 1 portable potty at the parking lot
- Shoes: the inclines were mostly stairs, so regular exercise shoes worked fine for me. The declines / inclines were not gravely / sandy.

One of the best locations for many great trails! The best way to get here is going to the 'Mt Tamalpais Watershed' where you pay an $8 parking fee. There is no attendants but a pay machine that you can pay cash or card. Very convenient. There is a porta-potty if you have to go.

Unfortunately, there is no available map for your use. Good thing I used AllTrails' the know where to go exactly! There is plenty of parking even on a weekend but the parking is on gravel. This hike sees both ‘Bon Tempe lake’ and on the other side is ‘Alpine Lake'. The trail we took, took us to both.

Actually, this trail was awesome to take even if to me this was considered moderate and NOT easy; about 5+ miles loop. It takes you to many small waterfalls and rivers, big trees, large logs, bridges and stairs were killer! Don't come here if you've partied the night before. I totally regret it as it was killer on my body! Hahaha...

Some trails can be deceiving but you have to go through rocks, bridges and water beds so make use of those waterproof hiking shoes! Because of the waterfalls, water puddles and lake, beware of ticks! There is a lots of them but you can avoid by wearing long pants and socks if you can. Check your clothes before entering your car.

Most of the trail is shaded but towards the end was open space. Many of the trails are very narrow for one person. I believe this is one of the most beautiful most scenic trails I have gone through so far.

I would definitely come back here to do it again! It's a great workout! The lake is beautiful and pictures don't do justice compared to being there.

A bit rough on the old joints but awesome hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Positives:
-good exercise with the incline on the way out and the way back.
-beautiful views
-waterfalls are always a treat
Negatives:
-we went on a nice spring day with a high temp of ~70, it was very warm with direct sun and only a small portion of the trail in the shade
-traffic through Fairfax was a nightmare. Took us an hour from Novato to get to the trailhead
-no bathrooms, few places to step off the trail with privacy

This was really nice for getting back into the swing of hiking. midweek, saw about 7 people. the falls are still strong and worth seeing as of today. good for contemplation. liked the little moments of opening up. hiked up a bit past the falls, too which was nice for a climb and peek above the trees.

start at the bottom near the reservoir and work your way up. fun little challenge nice waterfall the whole hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful scenery of the waterfalls (post rain). Feels like you’re in a rainforest or jungle. Parked at Rock Springs (watershed) trail head & hiked all the way down to Alpine Lake & back. Total was a little over 8 miles w/ a slight detour on the way back. Be cautious that parts of the trail are unmarked. But if you stay along Cataract Creek you’ll be fine. Lots of steps, great workout. Halfway there is a picnic area to rest by the creek which was nice. Lots of shade & my dog enjoyed it as well.

Gorgeous hike after a big storm. A bit muddy but not too bad. Lots of company—but to be expected since the waterfalls were in full force. There are a ton of steps, uneven, a bit of scrambling in parts. Coming down requires more concentration, going up takes more lung power. A good workout both ways.

Great little hike. It was my first time there and I really enjoyed it. Although it was mid day and a great number of others.

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.

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

hiking
1 month ago

The majority of the hike is open air with no shade. Once you get to the tree line cover it’s a pretty hike. The Falls still had water. I would recommend once you see the first waterfall continue hiking down and around. The really pretty view is further down with multiple pools and falls. The dogs on leash rule is real. Park rangers peruse the area and will issue citations if caught off leash with your fur friends. The trail is also rocky in the beginning.

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.

Great trail. Like many others in the area, fairly shaded. I went clockwise and there was a steady 30 minute climb before leveling out. Not hard. Easy to join other trails and venture out. Trust the map, it's right. There are a couple of times you'll question it.

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.

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!

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