January 16, 2017
With all the rain we’ve been getting this winter in the Bay Area, I wanted to check on Cataract Falls, a small waterfall in Marin, nestled in what is probably my favorite local hiking area. We were not disappointed – the waterfall was roaring (as much as a small waterfall from a creek can roar). The last time I saw it was during the peak of the drought and water levels were pretty low, not quite a trickle but definitely not gushing.
Since that last trip during the drought, I had attempted to go again twice, but the road leading to the trailhead I usually start at (Cataract Trailhead off Fairfax-Bolinas Road) was closed due to damage from last year’s storms in March. Just read that the road may be open again – http://www.marinij.com/article/NO/20161116/NEWS/161119855 – but I haven’t personally confirmed if it really is or not.
For this trip, we parked at the Rock Springs trailhead, from which a friend had recently hiked to Cataract Falls. This trailhead goes up to the falls from the south (vs. down from the north from Cataract Trailhead).
Given it was MLK day, I wasn’t sure of the crowd/traffic situation and wanted to get there early. We left the city at 7:45am and got to the trailhead at 8:30. At that time, there were only about 10 cars there. Once we hit the trails, we didn’t see or hear anyone else – making it a very peaceful hike. You could definitely hear yourself think if you wanted to. It wasn’t until we were almost back at the parking lot that we saw other hikers.
A storm had just passed through and it was one of the few clear days before the next storm. Despite the sun being out, it was quite a bit colder than I expected and I wished I had brought gloves – my hands were freezing the whole time.
The specific trails we took were completely new to me, but similar to the trails closer to Alpine Lake that I had taken to hike to Cataract Falls previously. I love the trails here – mostly covered, lush, and with a good variety of terrain going up and down hills and across streams/water falls. Best of all, it’s not super crowded (if you go early) as it’s not as easy to get to as Tennessee Valley. For these reasons, I often refer to this as my “secret hike” as I hope it remains relatively undiscovered (I debated whether or not to post about this hike, but I figured not that many people will actually see this post).
I love that I found this trailhead – there are many other trails/routes you can take from here. Looking forward to piecing together a longer day hike soon!
Trailhead: Rock Springs
Length/Route: ~6 miles (2.5 hours)
- High Marsh
- Cross Country Boys
- 1.5 liters of water
- 1 bar
My rating (high=5, overall/difficulty): 5/3