Marin Blog · Outdoor Adventures Collection

Marin’s Top Waterfall Hikes

Posted in Blogging Marin on Monday, November 22, 2021 by MCVB Staff

The rainy season has finally hit Marin and the county’s highest peak—Mount Tamalpais—recorded a whopping 43 inches of precipitation from the first big storm of the season. For nature-lovers, the big rainfall means great waterfall hikes in the woodsy hills, canyons and ravines of Marin’s parklands and open space. 

One favorite waterfall hike is the Cataract Falls Trail Loop near Alpine Dam in the watershed district lands.  The woodsy trail climbs steeply up a narrow, redwood-and-bay gladed ravine, passing a series of nine cascading waterfalls on Cataract Creek along the way. It’s about a mile and a half to the top of the trail but you can opt for a 7-mile loop that includes scenic vistas stretching to the Pacific Ocean. At the moment, Cataract Falls is inaccessible to cars because of emergency work on Bolinas-Fairfax Road and is possible from the Laurel Dell Trailhead on West Ridgecrest Boulevard. Then it’s a 2-mile hike to access a view of the upper falls. Parking is free and typically fills early in the day due to the trail’s popularity.

Cascade Falls in Mill Valley’s Cascade Canyon is one of the easiest waterfalls to visit in Marin. More of a leisurely walk than a hike, the falls are located deep within a woodsy canyon near the Three Wells and Cascade Dam. The falls are best seen after a heavy rain.  To get there, follow Cascade Drive just past the last intersection with Throckmorton Avenue to a small dirt parking lot with a wooden sign that says “Cascade Falls”.

If you’re an adventurous hiker, a classic Marin waterfall hike is Carson Falls. There are four great, under-the-radar waterfalls—plus a 360-degree view of Marin County from the peak of Pine Mountain—along the Carson Falls hiking path, which even has boulders to sit on and watch the waterfalls from. This hike is a hidden favorite among the locals that actually combines a few different interesting paths, but there are maps and hike descriptions available online. Access to Carson Falls is available from the Azaela Hill Trail parking lot on Bolinas-Fairfax Road, a section that is not impacted by the county road work closure. From here, the hike to the falls is approximately 3 miles. 
Parking is free.

In Novato, Waterfall Trail in the Indian Valley Open Space Preserve leads to a gushing cascade. After parking, visitors can walk the loop around the ball fields, go through the open space gate and take the fire road. After a short walk, a sign on the left indicates the trail.

More information on featured attractions:

blog image

Mount Tamalpais State Park

Magnificent Mt. Tamalpais has 6,300 acres of redwood groves and oak woodlands with spectacular views from its 2,500 foot peak. It is a hikers and bikers paradise. The...[Learn More]

blog image

Point Reyes National Seashore

Campers may use campsites in the Point Reyes National Seashore year-round, but because of its proximity to San Francisco, the campsites are in great demand. Campsites are located...[Learn More]

Tags: Hiking