Cataract Trail to Cataract Falls to High Marsh loop

This is a 7.5 mile trail and an elevation gain of 1400 feet.  Marin watershed has a group size restriction of 19 without written permission.  Sorry we can't accommodate more hikers on this spectacular route.

This is not a trail recommended for first time hikers.  You MUST be sure footed.  There are many stone steps that can be wet and slippery.

We will see multiple cascades of Cataract Falls plunge down the fern-covered hillsides of western Mt. Tam.  and then continue on the High Marsh trail to form a delightful loop.


Take Bolinas Rd from the town of Fairfax.  Drive 7.8 miles on Bolinas Rd to the dam at Alpine Lake.  Cross the dam and continue 1/10th of a mile farther to the hairpin turn in the road.  Park in the pullouts along the turn; the trailhead is on the left.


Please read and be familiar with the guidelines of the group as listed below.  It’s important before you come on a Wanderer hike that you agree and are prepared with the following.

As always:

  • We combine enjoyment of the trail with respect for everyone’s time.   A steady pace and we just keep going!  If you are in the lead you will end up waiting at trail junctions. If you are in the back you will be asked to do your best to keep up with the group and at waiting points the group may move on as soon as you are within sight.  Our pace averages 2.5mph.  We do get separated from time to time as everyone walks their own pace but please bear in mind that you will need to be able to stay within a reasonable distance from the group.  Make sure this is something you are prepared for and would enjoy.
  • TO BRING: YOU! glorious hiker person you – dying to hit the trails and laugh, talk, sweat and enjoy in a group of like minded Wanderers… Oh yeah, and you should always bring your hiking safety essentials as well as layered clothing, water and food appropriate to the outing as mentioned below.
  • Please always check your email the night before just in case there are any necessary adjustments to the hike details.  Cancellations or any adjustments will be posted by 10pm the previous evening.
  • RSVP etiquette must be followed. Only RSVP when you can commit to attend. Once you have RSVP'd if you have an emergency that means you have to cancel please change your RSVP by 5pm the prior day. This will avoid a "no-show" reflecting on your participation history. Over 3 "no-shows" might mean we have to excuse you from the group. We try very hard to respect each other in this group.
  • Give yourself time to find the trail head so that you arrive prior to the scheduled time. That is the time we head out on the trail.  It would be disappointing to miss having you on the hike due to late arrival.  You will be left behind if you are not ready to head out at the hike start time.
  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes with good rugged soles that are well broken in.
  • Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Facilities: none
  • Dogs: No
  • Bring plenty of water.  More than one bottle is usually a good idea.
  • Dress in layers.  The hike starts off cool but rapidly warms up.
  • Bring a lunch.  We will have a break when we find a scenic spot about half way.
  • Bring your smile and great attitude!  We are ALL about trail enjoyment while respecting everyone’s time!


Car pool etiquette- First and foremost....come prepared to drive.Yes.....I know.....a lot of you are trying to car pool because you don't want to or can't drive for whatever reason. I don't want you to be disappointed, so if you can't drive please be aware that you might not be able to join the hike. There is always that risk if you are counting on others to be your transportation. There may be no others wanting to car pool from your selected location or there might be a lot of people and everyone might want to ride. You might arrive late, be in the wrong spot or get stopped by a swarm of your paparazzi...come prepared to drive to the trail head if you want to hike! If we have a gang wanting to ride we determine who gets the rider seats by who has most recently been a driver in the past. This is worked out based by who shows up at the car pool location. We can't guarantee anyone a seat because we never know until that day who will show up. We do our best to work it out and make everyone happy but we need everyone to pitch in and help make it work!

General rule of thumb for riders...$5 one hour or less to trailhead $8 over one hour to trailhead Please insist your driver accept the money. It's to cover more than gas's the wear and tear on the vehicle. We like to take care of our drivers!

Then PLEASE if possible try to use the locations below. The more locations we have the less effective we are and it's so much more complicated. Exceptions would be if you are not close to any of the designated locations.


Car pool locations:

SANTA ROSA: Coddingtown Mall parking lot in front of the Coddingtown library to leave by 8:30

PETALUMA: Lucky at the intersection of Lakeville and Caulfield Ln. Park closest to Payran St. suggested leave by 8:55

See you on the trail!

Join or login to comment.

  • Carol H.

    GREAT hike today. Thanks for planning it, leading it, and offering us all such encouragement as we panted along. Beautiful day. Carol

    May 9, 2013

  • Kathy

    Wheeeeee!!!!!!! Thanks for joining me on this fun roller coaster ride of a hike. More water in the falls than I expected, perfect weather and delightful company.

    1 · May 9, 2013

  • patrick k.

    That was an absolutely awesome hike!
    Thanks so much Kathy!!!

    May 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    What a great roller coaster ride. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    1 · May 9, 2013

  • Andy S.

    I am leaving from Healdsburg with my brother. I could pick up Nancy in Healdsburg and then stop for Andy in Windsor. That would fill my car. Please confirm if that works for you.

    May 8, 2013

    • Andy S.

      I'll stop by your house at 8:10

      May 8, 2013

    • Nancy

      Had to take Dan to hospital; will not be able to go tomorrow, but thank you for the ride offer.

      May 8, 2013

  • Gary W.

    l will be at Coddingtown Mall. Anyone else?

    May 8, 2013

  • Shelley R.

    Am having back problems and will not be able to attend on Thursday. Please give my spot to some lucky hiker.

    May 7, 2013

  • Lynda K.

    Giving my spot up. Simplifying

    May 7, 2013

  • Larry O.

    Crap. Work schedule changes. Can't make it. Have fun.

    May 6, 2013

  • Shelley R.

    Will meet in Petaluma to carpool.

    May 4, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      petaluma carpool on[masked], leave at 8:55

      May 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sounds wonderful! I wish it were on a weekend. Have fun!

    May 3, 2013

  • Andy S.

    I would like to add a +1 if possible, otherwise I will have to change to no.

    May 3, 2013

  • Maryann M.

    Looking forward to it

    April 28, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    MMWD doesn't actually have a group size restriction, but they require written permission for groups of 20 or more. See section[masked] at

    April 1, 2013

    • Kathy

      Thanks, Gerald for the correction. I don't think we'll be getting permits for hikes, so actually we need to change limits to 19 for their properties.

      April 1, 2013

14 went

This Meetup is community funded


Member dues are used to:
  • Cover Meetup costs

30 day free trial

No credit card required

After the trial you must pay dues to be a member of this Meetup.

Cancel dues at any time.

Dues are billed each year.

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sometimes the best Meetup Group is the one you start

Get started Learn more

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy