Explore the most popular views 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.

Hiked the loop today (7/29/18). Parking across the dam at the trailhead was limited. Started at 10:30 am. Went counter clockwise. Very steep up the creek to the falls. Eventually it leveled out to picnic area about 1.5 miles in. The trail around to the east was very nice and well maintained. Not a lot of views and the trail was in shade most of the way. From the where the trail went back down to the lake, the trail back to the original trail at the falls was long. Probably because it was hot and it seemed to keep going and going and going. Once at the turn off at the falls and back to parking, the rest of the hike was all down hill. The guide says it is 7+ miles but my iPhone activity said I went 9.3 miles. I do a lot of hiking and this distance seemed more accurate.

Cataract falls is an amazing trail. Lots of sights to see and the creek runs along the trail. There are signs all along the way with steps and rails to
Keep you sure footed. Be sure to arrive early because it will definitely get crowded after noon. Parking can be limited as well if you arrive late. All in all great trail and I definitely recommend it for the family hikers with kids. Enjoy!

Great hike! Beautiful views and quiet.

I loved this hike!!! Definitely going to do this again but earlier in the morning (i would suggest to start at 9:00am). My boyfriend and I started at 12:00pm and ended around 3:00pm. Bring snacks to eat and lots of water. Hardest part was driving there and parking, but thats why i would suggest to get their early.

hiking
27 days ago

I hiked this trail and it is amazing. Definitely not 8.5 miles. I clocked 10.7 miles, so be prepared. Lots of it is shaded. You will see frequent changes in the ecosystem. This is a mountain biking trail and I was the only hikers I came across.

Great hike with my 4 year old!

Definitely one of the most beautiful trails I’ve been to. Will come back for sure!

Grueling but sooooo worth it. One of the most gorgeous hikes the bay has to offer!

Great hike, but echo the comments on mileage... my Fitbit said we did 13.1 miles, which when you expect 8.6 was a slog at the end. We went clockwise which meant we took the brutal cataract stairs down, instead of up. I think either direction would be an enjoyable hike though!!

beautiful hike with varying terrain- lake, forrest, “desert”- gorgeous. not what i would i consider “easy” with stairs and inclines not totally steep, but there is a significant elevation gain. you can see san pablo bay at one point. fantastic!

Lightly trafficked trail with panoramic views of the water, and typically a lot of hawks.

Absolutely love this hike but parking lot is a big obstacle. Always full. They could easily accommodate more cars but locals probably won’t allow for it. You can get to the lot and have 3 cars waiting to park. I’ve had to wait 20 minutes for a spot. It can spoil what was to be a lovely hike.

Our dog got bit by a rattlesnake on this trail today. It’s beautiful, but please be careful!

hiking
2 months ago

There are so many beautiful trails around here that this one is just totally lackluster in comparison.
I would rate this trail as moderate, not easy. The climbs are not unsubstantial.
Majority of trail is a totally exposed fire road; no shade at all. I did this hike at 8:30 in the morning and it was still extremely hot.
Falls area was pretty, as was a brief forested area 3/4 of the way into the hike, but that was about it.

Not an “EASY” hike. Loved it, but its far too technical to be EASY with either a steep sun-drenched grade up a fire road if entering the loop to the left, or a shady, but technical and long up-and-down single track if entering from the right of the split. IMHO, I’d head left and get the climb out of the way early in the hike and then enjoy the walk as you head toward the reservoir filled with really great views.

Definitely difficult but absolutely beautiful and worth the effort. Completed the 7.5 miles with our dog on leash.

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.

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.

hiking
3 months 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.

mountain biking
3 months 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
4 months 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.

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