One of the most pawpular hikes in Marin County, California is the Cataract Falls Trail near Fairfax. This moderately strenuous hike is a 2.7-mile roundtrip out-and-back hike that can be completed in about two hours. This dog-friendly hike welcomes canine visitors, but they're required to remain on a leash during your trek, and of course, they must be cleaned up after along the way. Don't forget the doggie bags!
The best time of year to visit the Cataract Falls is between December and May; otherwise, there may be no flowing water in the falls. You can access the trailhead off of Fairfax-Bolinas Road, just past Alpine Lake. This is an area with all sorts of waterfalls and beautiful hikes, but Cataract Falls remains a favorite.
You'll begin your hike following Cascade Creek to the north. The first section of the walk is in a shaded area with lots of trees, and you'll cross the creek several times. Before long, you'll reach the Laurel Dell picnic area. This is an excellent place to stop and hydrate or have something to eat before you continue. As you pass the picnic area, you'll begin a descent that takes you to towards the upper falls, where you'll undoubtedly want to stop and appreciate the view. You'll also come to the junction of Cataract Trail and Helen Markt Trail, and there's a lovely blue pool here where you'll see people stopping to take pictures.
Hikers recommend wearing sturdy shoes for your trek and carrying plenty of bug spray and drinking water. The loose terrain means this hike is not for the unsure of foot -- or paw! Some sections of the hike also have staircases, and your trips up and down will both require some scrambling. But if you and your doggo are both up for it, this beautiful hike is worth trying out!