Cataract Trail to Cataract Falls to High Marsh followed by the famous Sol Food!

This is a 7.5 mile trail and an elevation gain of 1400 feet.  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.

After the hike we will travel to Sol Food for a bite to eat.  We've heard it's fantastic!


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.

FOR car pools ...we have a change. Please document your car pool info in your RSVP comments NOT the general comments below. That will eliminate many msgs to the hike attendees. Car pool etiquette- Come prepared to drive, be aware that 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. 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!

Then PLEASE if possible try to use the two 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 either location.

Car pool locations:

Coddingtown Library parking lot suggested leave at 8:25

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

General room of thumb...$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!

As always:

  • We combine enjoyment of the trail with respect for everyone’s time.   Slow and steady and we just keep going!
  • Please always check your email the night before just in case there are any necessary adjustments.  This is especially important if there are any weather issues.  Cancellations due to weather will be posted by 10pm the previous evening.
  • 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. 
  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes with good rugged soles that are well broken in.
  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Facilities: not known
  • Dogs?: not allowed
  • 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 snacks for your pockets...we do not have a lunch stop due to our after hike late lunch/early dinner stop!
  • Bring your smile and great attitude!  Once again....this is not about finishing the hike in record's about enjoying ourselves and the outdoors!  If you are a medium to fast hiker you will be waiting for those of us that huff and puff our way up the trail.  Please make sure this is something that you will enjoy!  We are ALL about trail enjoyment!

See you on the trail!

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  • Don

    I knew the hike would be great, but how about some review on Sol Food? I heard it was good but long wait to get in.

    December 6, 2012

    • Don

      No wait? I always see a big line outside their door.

      December 7, 2012

    • susette

      I know, me, too, Don!! But it was a weekday way after the lunch rush!! : )

      December 7, 2012

  • Don

    Great pictures Margaret! I wish I wasn't working that day, this was truly a beautiful hke........I know Leigh will post for us "weekenders" soon......

    December 7, 2012

  • Marinoly R.

    Cataract Falls must be one of my favorite hikes, how gorgeous!! The walking on the empty road and watching the coyote were an added bonus. I was really glad we ended the hike at Sol Foods, the perfect ending to our little adventure.

    December 5, 2012

  • Stephanie B.

    Thank you Leigh for all you have done this year...All of your hikers are the best, because of you. So much to appreciate.

    December 5, 2012

  • Leigh does a 7 mile hike turn into a 14 MILE HIKE! Let's see....the road to the trailhead being closed....following advice from strange ladies on the side of the road.....being visited by a mysterious coyote....heading down the dam instead of along beside it....a wonderfully adventurous group....add that all up and get 14.3 miles!
    Cataract Trail was just gorgeous and worth the 10+ mile trek to get there! :) I wouldn't change a thing about today....I had a wonderful day. Thank you all!

    December 4, 2012

  • Stephanie B.

    Really nice day with the best group of Wanderers..Glad we added the extra miles. Too good to be true.

    December 4, 2012

  • susette

    Incredible water flowing down Cataract Falls!! Keep Out?! Who, us?! Can't say I've been so ravenous after a 7.5 mile hike before!!!! What an amazing day!!! : )

    December 4, 2012

  • Leigh

    The road is closed! We are here at the point where the gate is blocking further progress! Meet us here!

    December 4, 2012

  • Leigh

    Hi Everyone...this hike is a rain or shine hike...rain will NOT stop us tomorrow! Keep in mind that we will NOT have a lunch stop. Eat before you start and have something easy to munch on in your pocket.. We have to save our appetites for Sol food but you want to make sure that you keep yourself fueled as well!

    December 3, 2012

    • Marcia B

      Have fun today. I have to be in St Helena at 1pm so cannot go.

      December 4, 2012

  • Pam

    I've ALWAYS wanted to hike this trail! Any idea when we might be back? I need to be in Windsor at 6:00pm that night...

    November 28, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi All, I don't think I will be able to attend tomorrow. This weekend is my birthday and friend flying in and I have many things to catch up on and prepare. Have a wonderful time and see you all soon. Vanita

      December 3, 2012

  • Leigh

    Oh and just to clear up some questions
    I expect to be back to Santa Rosa by 5 appx
    Santa Rosa car pool meets at the Coddingtown Library as mentioned above
    Poles are always helpful!

    December 3, 2012

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