Cataract Falls

Corte Madera, California

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A challenging but spectacular trail leads up along Cataract Creek, passing a series of waterfalls as it climbs from Alpine Lake to Laurel Dell. Given sufficient rainfall, any number of ephemeral cascades can be found in the steep gullies of the Mount Tamalpais Watershed. But few carry the notoriety of the falls found along the Cataract Trail, which climbs beside Cataract Creek above Alpine Lake, one of five reservoirs on the mountain’s flanks. A relatively challenging trail traces Cataract Creek as it plunges about 1,000 feet from Laurel Dell to Alpine Lake. Artfully combining switchbacks with stone and wooden staircases, the trail traverses steep slopes shaded by redwoods, laurels, and oaks through an understory lush with sword fern and bracken fern, and glowing with moss.
Hiking Waterfalls in Northern California

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking Waterfalls in Northern California

by Tracy Salcedo-Chourré (Falcon Guides)

A challenging but spectacular trail leads up along Cataract Creek, passing a series of waterfalls as it climbs from Alpine Lake to Laurel Dell. Given sufficient rainfall, any number of ephemeral cascades can be found in the steep gullies of the Mount Tamalpais Watershed. But few carry the notoriety of the falls found along the Cataract Trail, which climbs beside Cataract Creek above Alpine Lake, one of five reservoirs on the mountain’s flanks.

A relatively challenging trail traces Cataract Creek as it plunges about 1,000 feet from Laurel Dell to Alpine Lake. Artfully combining switchbacks with stone and wooden staircases, the trail traverses steep slopes shaded by redwoods, laurels, and oaks through an understory lush with sword fern and bracken fern, and glowing with moss.

© 2015 Tracy Salcedo-Chourré/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Corte Madera
Distance: 4.6
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: 5-7 hours
Season: Year-round
Features: Waterfalls
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Local Contacts: Marin Municipal Water District, 220 Nellen Ave., Corte Madera, CA 94925; (415) 945-1180 (ranger) or (415) 945-1400 (customer service); marinwater.org
Local Maps: USGS Bolinas CA; Marin Municipal Water District/Mount Tamalpais Watershed trail map available online at marinwater.org/ DocumentCenter/View/160 (black and white) or www.marinwater.org/DocumentCenter/ View/159 (color)
Driving Directions: Directions to Cataract Falls

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Apr 2018