Cataract Falls is a good workout on the 3 mile out-and-back hike (if you go all the way to the top). There are many great spots for a photo op, so be sure to bring your camera.

Cataract Falls is one of the most stunning hikes in the bay area after a recent rain. The drive to the trailhead alone is beautiful as you pass Alpine Lake on Bolinas Fairfax Rd. Cataract is a 3-mile total out-and-back hike that gains 750ft in the first mile. Unlike Alamere Falls, where you trek for 4 miles to get to the falls, you start to see cascading waterfalls early on in the hike, which are scattered throughout the rest of the trek. Most of the hike is shaded, but you can end up shedding layers pretty quickly since you’re climbing uphill the first 1.5 miles. If you're looking for the bathrooms, they're at the top.

Pack List

  • Trail or hiking shoes
  • Athletic clothes
  • Water
  • Camera
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RT Distance 3 Miles
Elevation Gain 1020 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Beautiful Shaded Hike

Though the skill level says beginner, beware - this hike is more moderate due to the quick elevation gains, sets of stairs, and narrow walkways! Went yesterday and loved this hike. Note that bathrooms aren't directly at the top of the falls (and Cataracts Falls themselves aren't clearly marked - they're the falls with a pool below them right before the trail marker to keep getting to Alpine Lake). Beautiful scenery and awesome views of Bolinas, Stinson, the ocean if you hike up to Ridgecrest Road at the very top. Bring layers as it gets quite chilly in the shade, and lots of water - enjoy!

Great Hike With Lots Of Climbing

I loved this hike. Cataract Falls is one waterfall after another as you ascend 1,000 feet through some beautiful forest. Once at the top you can easily add more distance by following any of the trails at the top and looping back around.

about 2 years ago

Yep, road is still closed.

Drive all the way from the city to find the road leading to the watershed closed.. still, even after a few months. Hopefully it opens soon.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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