Hike to Carson Falls

San Francisco Carson Falls

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Carson Falls is an under-the-radar Marin waterfall best hiked in the winter. Wait until after a recent rain to see the full power of the falls.

Are you tired of crowds on your hikes? First, shame on you for getting up so late and moving so slowly. Did you really need Philz before you got on the trail?

Ok, now that you’ve been thoroughly chastised, let’s start planning a hike to the less-frequented Carson Falls. Like any of the falls in Marin, they’re obviously gushing after a big storm, but you can enjoy them most of the year anyway.

Getting there: From the 101, exit Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Take SFD to Pacheco Ave, make a left on Pacheco, a quick right onto Broadway and then a quick left onto Bolinas Rd. Stay on Bolinas for 3.8 miles. You’ll pass the Meadow Club on your left side. 1.3 miles past the Meadow Club, you’ll see a parking area on your left – park here.

Once you’re parked, carefully cross the road and head toward the gate. This is where the hike starts. Head up Pine Mountain Fire Road for ~1-mile until you reach Oat Hill Road. Head left onto Oat Hill Road for ~0.2 miles until you see a trail heading off to your right. This is Carson Falls Trail. You can take this directly to the falls.

If you reach the falls and need a little more mileage, this 3-mile hike can be turned into a 7-mile hike by continuing on Carson Falls Trail down to Kent Pump Road. This road will intersect with Old Vee Road. Head east on Old Vee until it meets up with Oat Hill. At Oat hill, hang a left, and head north until meeting back up with Pine Mountain Road. Head east on Pine Mountain, and you’ll shortly reach your car.

If you need to quench the thirst you've built up from the hike, head to Iron Springs Pub & Brewery on the way back to the freeway. If you're like us and prefer something a little south of the border, you may want to grab a burrito from Taqueria Mi Pueblo.

Photos: Stephanie

Pack List

  • Trail shoes or Hiking boots. If it's been raining, the terrain could be muddy and slippery
  • Water
  • Camera (come on, there are waterfalls!)
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Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

3 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1000 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Dog Friendly
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall

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How to Get There

4 months ago

Best after a recent rain

The trail for this hike starts off uphill with a little gravel, but isn't too tough. The trail gets much easier as you begin to flatten out and then head down to the waterfall. Be sure to go after a recent rain to see the waterfall at its best.

4 months ago

over 1 year ago

Great day hike

Best to follow the written directions - don't use the GPS map! Went halfway to Stinson Beach before turning around, but once we got there it was a really nice hike. Lots of very steep uphill and downhill, so if you have bad knees you may want to avoid this one. The falls are really pretty, and keep getting prettier as you descend into the woods. The additional loop is worth while if you have time, as the way back up is actually less steep than if you just turned around. Make sure to turn LEFT on Kent Pump raod!

over 1 year ago

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