Loop hike including Cataract Falls on Mt. Tamalpais
Distance: About 10 miles
Elevation gain: About 2,400 ft. overall
A waiting list exists for this hike. If you do not plan to attend, change your RSVP so others can move up. Don't be a no-show!
This is always a nice hike, especially in Winter, but unless we get substantial rain between now and the hike, waterfall flow will be pretty low.
I would expect return to Sacramento to be about 7 PM.
Strenuous due to lots of up-and-down throughout, one very steep mile up and a steep descent at the end
Starting at Bon Tempe Lake on the north side of Mt. Tamalpais, we will take the Kent Trail along the shore of Alpine Lake, the Helen Markt Trail, and then follow the Cataract Trail as it winds steeply up alongside the falls. After having lunch on a scenic hilltop we take the High Marsh Trail, the Kent Trail, Stocking Trail and Rocky Ridge Fire Road back to our starting point.
Limited to 45 due to the parking availability at the trail head. Please carpool for this one. As this is water district land, dogs are OK but MUST be kept on leash. I don't recommend it because the trails are narrow.
Forecast of heavy or steady rain will cancel. If light rain predicted I may change the route and shorten this. Check here the night before for updates.
PLEASE NOTE: It is easy to get lost or take a wrong turn in this area. If you like to hike fast ahead of group do so at your own risk! It is always best to wait at intersections. Try to carpool with others about your own speed and hike within sight of your carpool group.
Bring: Plenty of water, lunch, snacks, small tarp or something to sit on ground for lunch, sunscreen. I recommend hiking boots as the trails are steep, rocky and slippery in parts. Poles are good if you have them.
Print and bring map and directions
Trail Map in Files section: BonTempe_Cataract_Loop
1. From trailhead gate, take fire road to Bon Tempe Dam and cross dam.
2. Turn right at far side of dam.
3. Keep to the RIGHT at the next split toward Kent Trail.
4. By the lake, the road becomes the Kent Trail.
5. After 2 miles on Kent Trail turn right on Helen Markt Trail.
6. After 1.7 miles on Helen Markt Trail you reach the Cataract Trail.
7. A waterfall into a large pool here, is a good spot to take a break and gather up group.
8. Optional waterfall side trip: Some of the most scenic falls are below this spot. To view, take Cataract Trail downhill, cross bridge and proceed down steps. At the SECOND wide viewing area, turn around and return up Cataract Trail.
9. Go uphill on Cataract Trail toward Laurel Dell Picnic Area (not all the way to it).
10. At about 1 mile, Turn LEFT on High Marsh Trail. THIS IS EASY TO MISS, as the trail sign may actually indicate High Marsh on the reverse side of the sign. WATCH CAREFULLY for it. If you get to the Laurel Dell Picnic Area you have gone too far.
11. High Marsh Trail crosses a steep grassy area, then as it rounds the edge of the ridge turn right up a fire road to a grassy knoll with a view for lunch spot.
12. After lunch, return to High Marsh Trail and continue on it for about 2 miles. Watch out for unsigned trail splits in this area. If you are ahead of group don’t know which way to go, WAIT.
13. Turn left on the Kent Trail.
14. After .6 miles, turn right on the Stocking Trail. Watch carefully for the trail sign.
15. There is an area on Stocking Trail that is easy to get lost. If you’re not sure, WAIT. The trail often disappears in big puddles here.
16. Turn left on the Rocky Ridge Fire Rd., returning to Bon Tempe Dam in 1.4 miles.
17. Cross the dam and return to parking area.
Driving directions to Bon Tempe Lake trailhead:
90 mi – about 1 hour 45 mins
Starting at: 11th St & P St, Sacramento
1. Head west on P St toward 10th St. - 0.7 mi
2. Take the I-80 W ramp to San Francisco - 0.8 mi
3. Merge onto US-50 W - 3.1 mi
4. Continue on I-80 W - 48.2 mi
5. Take the State Hwy 37 exit toward San Rafael - 0.7 mi
6. Merge onto CA-37 W - 20.6 mi
7. Take the 101 South exit - 0.3 mi
8. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for San Francisco/US-101/San Rafael and merge onto US-101 S - 10.2 mi
9. Take exit 450B for Sir Francis Drake Blvd., keep to right for Sir Francis Drake Blvd. WEST, to merge onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd (continue to follow signs for “Sir Francis Drake Blvd. – Fairfax) - 5.6 mi
10. As you enter downtown Fairfax, there is a road divider on left with trees and a large wooden "Fairfax" sign. Turn left here and immediate right on Broadway
11. Turn left at Bolinas Rd (Fairfax Coffee Roastery is on corner) - 0.4 mi
12. At a 3-way split in the road, keep left to stay on Bolinas Rd - 1.1 mi
13. Turn left at Sky Oaks Rd (sign says Lake Lagunitas and Bon Tempe) - 0.8 mi
14. Once past the entrance kiosk, watch for a sign for Bon Tempe, turning right onto a gravel road. Continue on road until you see a parking area on the left. Park here. If it is full, there is an overflow lot a little further down the road. Trailhead is the wooden gate. There is a porta-potty at parking area and another along way at far end of the dam.
Parking is $8 per car (bring cash to feed ticket machine)
Carpool riders please pay drivers $15 each, plus share the parking fee.
GPS coordinates for trailhead:
Steve G contact no.:[masked]