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Marin’s Top Waterfall Hikes

Creek crossing Cataract Creek, Marin County California
Creek crossing Cataract Creek, Marin County California
Photo by Ben Davidson/

The rainy season has finally hit Marin and the county’s highest peak—Mount Tamalpais—recorded a whopping 20 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 of my favorite waterfall hikes is the Cataract Falls trail 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.

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 to Alamere Falls in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Best visited in spring, it offers beautiful ocean views midway along the relatively easy 8.4-mile roundtrip hike. You start at the Palomarin Trailhead and follow a mostly unsigned and unmaintained trail to a fairly steep and rocky cliff area, where you climb down to the beach for views of the falls as they pour down the cliff to the sand.