Explore the most popular waterfall 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.

Lots of climbing but pretty scenery throughout! I didn’t feel there was a big ‘pay-off’ moment at the top with a nice view so that’s why I’d rate this one a 4!

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

hiking
25 days ago

Really enjoyable hike, and gorgeous waterfalls throughout. Quite a bit of climbing, but most of it is using stairs and rocks that stand in well for stairs.

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

Short hike and lots of stairs. The majority of the hike is through super lush forest along a cute creek. There are some mosquitos tho so bring bug spray

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!

This is a beautiful hike, easy to moderate intensity. The view, once on top, is spectacular!!

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

hiking
1 month 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.

Fantastic trails, beautiful views. Loved that it’s dog friendly. Trail is pretty crowded in the afternoon.

hiking
1 month ago

The view was great. The kids love it. We will do it again.

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

Very nice, kid friendly trail.

on Cataract Falls Trail

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail with beautiful waterfalls along the way. Spring is great time go. Some parts of the trail are narrow, wouldn’t recommend children. If you start the loop at alpine lake, you will hit lots of stairs and uphill so itll be tough at first but coming back will be easier. Watch out for loose rocks on the ground.

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 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.

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.

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
2 months 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.

- 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.

hiking
3 months ago

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
3 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.

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

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