A melodic forest wonderland, Cataract Falls Trail has cascades, each with its own personality. The trail is located near Stinson Beach, a region in California. The enchanting sights and sounds of magical cascading waterfalls amaze every hiker. The 4.7-km trail (roundtrip) has an elevation gain of 323 m. It’s not a walk in the park with its steep climbs and tricky terrain, so you need to make sure you can handle this hike. You begin to see cascading waterfalls early on and continue to see them throughout the hike.
The starting point is near the serene Alpine Lake. Starting from the trailhead, you will begin a gentle descent toward the lake. The sound of water cascading down Cataract Creek will be a soothing soundtrack to your adventure. You will pass through about half a dozen cataracts in the first 0.8 miles, from peaceful rapids to impressive tiered falls. Each waterfall is unique in its formation and flow. Soon, you will cross a timbered pedestrian bridge. After the bridge, you will see the junction for another trail. Continue on your trail and soon you will find yourself climbing wooden steps.
The train then becomes steeper and quieter, but it continues to feature waterfalls. Just before reaching the Cataract Falls, a helpful bench provides a resting spot to catch your breath and take in sights and sounds. If you’re tired, it’s important that you recharge before completing the last steep push-up to the fall. The hike finishes at Cataract Falls, because it’s a hidden treasure. It’s partially obscured by the fairytale forest surrounding it.
After the Cataract Falls, the trail goes up old stone steps. Continuing on the trail can take you to the Laurel Dell Picnic Area, a peaceful spot with picnic tables to rest at. It’s a nice place to get ready to walk back down. Follow the trail back down to Alpine Lake.
You should go during the spring or winter season. But it also means that you might need a jacket and hiking boots. Also, make sure to come prepared with a parking pass as the Mount Tamalpais Watershed charges a daily or annual fee to park.