Of all the waterfalls in Marin County, Cataract Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the Bay Area.
Summertime in San Francisco means fog, but that didn’t stop us from making our way out of the city and heading for the sun. The fog was thick as we left San Francisco heading north towards Mt Tamalpais in Marin County, but as we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge, the fog slowly disappeared as the sun made its way in.
Our hiking group met at the Rock Springs Trailhead, 20 miles north of San Francisco at Mt Tamalpais. As we drove up the mountain, the weather began to warm up, and we encountered breathtaking views of the valley below with the fog disappearing in the distance.
Cataract Trail, which runs along Cataract Creek and the waterfalls, can play a part in a loop hike, but most people prefer to visit the falls on an out-and-back trek. If you start at the Rock Spring Trailhead you can follow the entire Cataract Falls segment from beginning to end; about a 6 mile out-and-back trip, which is what we did!
We arrived at the Rock Springs trail head at 9 AM, and started making our way down the trail. It started with vast open meadows, and soon became lush greenery with various waterfalls along our side all the way through the trail. The trail is about 3 miles long each way, and winds down along the riverbed, leading the the Cataract Waterfall. At the end of the trail we were rewarded by making it to the Mt Tamalpais Watershed, which is one of Marin's most valuable natural resources as it is the major source of domestic water for our residents. The way back up to the top was more steep, but the beautiful views kept coming.
All in all, this is a great moderate hike in the Bay Area. If you are looking for lush greenery with a river and waterfall along the way, check out Cataract Falls on Mt Tamalpais.
Here's a sneak peak of what the hike looks like during the heaviest rainfall during the winter in Marin County - you won't want to miss out!