Distance: 6.2 miles. Total elevation gain: 2082 ft. Single track, hills, stairs.

The Cataract Trail is a Bay Area classic! Gorgeous at any time of year, this trail gets a lot of hiking traffic in the Spring and Summer when the waterfalls that follow the route are flowing strong, but it remains well worth braving the crowds. Be warned that this route involves a very challenging climb up large stone steps and roots for the first two miles-- not for those looking for a mellow stroll!

To reach the trailhead take Bolinas Fairfax Road from 1) Bolinas, 2) Fairfax, or 3) come up and over Mt. Tam. Park at the roadside on the south side of Alpine Lake and look for the well-marked trail on the East side of the road. From the start the trail gives you one mile of gentle flat warm-up then launches into 2 miles of steep stone stair sequences and large root steps paralleling the creek. Immediately at the top of the climb turn left on the Marsh trail and enjoy sweeping alpine meadows as you cruise for 2 miles along the side of the ridge. Turn left on Kent trail and drop down to the lake. Once at the lake turn left again and run 2 miles on the Markt trail until it rejoins the Cataract trail that you came up. Turn right and run the 1.5 miles back to parking. Source

Pack List

  • Running gear
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sun block
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Activities Running, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Features
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Scenic

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Serious technical terrain. Not so fast!!


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