Home Bay Area Dog Friendly Waterfall hiking trails in the Bay Area

Dog Friendly Waterfall hiking trails in the Bay Area

written by ParoChak May 7, 2016

California has no dearth of hiking trails, but it gets even better if one leads to a gorgeous water fall. To top it off, if the waterfall hiking trails are dog-friendly, you have a definite win-win in your hands. In this post, I will be talking about two such waterfall hiking trails that are moderate and great fun to cover with your pooch. They lead to two splendid waterfalls and are best viewed in spring when the winter rains have brought in enough water to the bay area.

Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area

WATERFALL HIKING TRAILS: CATARACT FALLS

Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area

If you are visiting the city in spring, you’d be much advised to keep driving further up towards Mount Tamalpais, towering over Marin county with its slopes filled with spring flowers and beautiful waterfall hiking trails. Although the state park itself is forbidden for four legged kids, a short drive up reveals the watershed area, where dogs can be on leash. The trail head, starting from the junction of east and west Ridegcrest leads to the most beautiful and popular waterfall in the Marin county, namely Cataract Falls.

Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area
Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area
Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area

The website bahiker.com describes in great detail about the different trails in this region and provides precise directions to get to the falls. To see the falls gushing in full force, its best to visit in Feb/March just after the spring rains. Its a 6.4 miles loop from the trail head to the falls, and the trail is moderately strenuous with regions of light and shade. Its advisable to start early so that the sun does not beat down too much on you. Wear appropriate hiking gear and footwear and carry some water and light snacks for the hike. If you stay on the cataract trail, you will eventually get to the falls with the help of some posted signs along the way.

Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area

Starting the hike early is a good idea since it helps you snag a parking spot in the tiny lot. The trail head starts from an open, sunny meadow with flowers all around and then quickly moves into a stony terrain interspersed with wooden bridges that you have to cross to keep on going. There is a picnic area just before you reach the falls, so if you are enthusiastic enough, you can carry some brown bag lunch with you. Finally, once you reach the fall, the descent becomes steep, but you can get down all the way to the gurgling stream or make your way up through the rocks to face the falls. We saw one of the dogs having a field day swimming in the stream whereas our little one was content in watching from the sides (he is not a big fan of water). The falls, although much more subdued due to a continuing dry spell when we visited, still gushed down and gurgled over the rocks. The current appeared to be pretty strong as the water plunged down and into the creek below. The sight of the white, foamy water as it fell with great force over the rocks, was so beautiful to behold that it made is forget all our sweat and huffing and puffing.

Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area
Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area

WATERFALL HIKING TRAILS: CASCADE FALLS

Cascade falls is in a small park in Mill Valley, a short drive away from San Francisco. True to it’s name, Cascade falls is a a beautiful cascading body of water, and although a small fall, the water was gushing in full force thanks to the winter rain! There is a path that leads up from the falls and the trail winds up further. This hike is moderately strenuous but watch out for the loose rocks. We did not see any signs of dogs being prohibited from entering and saw several locals with their pooches heading up there and so were very happy to take our Babu with us.

Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area

Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area

Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area

The trees form a thick canopy and so the trails are protected by a nice patch of shade. The upward trail ends at a paved road for cyclists and cars, so please watch out if you have your dog with you. Overall, I highly recommend this spot, only half an hour away from the city, for hiking and visiting the beautiful waterfall. For more information, visit this article in SFgate from 2014.

Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area

Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly California Bay Area

For more dog-friendly hiking ideas, read my post on Dawn fall trail in Larkspur here.

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Waterfall hiking trails Dog friendly california Bay Area

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12 comments

Ashley Mauro July 31, 2017 at 2:01 am

Looks like y’all had fun! Gorgeous pictures!

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The Daily Pip August 16, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Cascade Falls looks especially lush and almost magical! Pictures are gorgeous!

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Debbie August 16, 2017 at 9:15 pm

Cascade falls looks amazing! And Cataract Falls sounds like a great hike too! Around 6 miles is a sweet spot for us. Just long enough to get the dogs’ energy out and to feel like we got a good workout in ourselves too. Thanks for sharing!

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Carleen August 16, 2017 at 9:38 pm

Such a beautiful area! I wish I lived somewhere as scenic as that to take my dogs out hiking!

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The Dash Kitten Crew August 16, 2017 at 10:36 pm

LOVE the picture of you two together. It says happy hiking doesn’t it.

A lovely post, and I love the pictures, it’s almost lie being there!

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Tenacious Little Terrier August 16, 2017 at 11:47 pm

I love hiking waterfall trails. We’ve done most of the close by ones. This summer has been so dry though I don’t think they’re as dramatic as they normally are!

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Sweet Purrfections August 17, 2017 at 12:54 am

I love water falls. We have quite a few beautiful water falls in the upper part of South Carolina. Some are easy to get to and others not so much. I’m not sure how many are pet friendly.

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Elizabeth Keene August 17, 2017 at 1:16 am

I love hiking to waterfalls, and getting to see the terrain in parts of the country other than my own (Virginia). What a beautiful place! Your dog looks quite at home there, too. I’ve never taken my dogs on a strenuous hike (seems most waterfall hikes around here are; the last one I did was nearly straight down for 2 miles). Keep enjoying the great outdoors!

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Beth August 17, 2017 at 3:41 am

That looks like a beautiful place to hike! I am glad it is dog-friendly, I bet your dog is too!

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Irene McHugh August 17, 2017 at 3:52 am

The picture of you and Babu on the wooden bridge is such a keeper. You both look so happy having fun exploring all the trails. Even though there are trails not open to dogs, I love that there are enough that are to add variety to the list of activities pet owners can try out.

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mary from yourdesignerdog August 17, 2017 at 6:24 am

Those look like some great hikes! My absolute favorite reason to go hiking is to end up at a waterfall. I am always looking for more places to travel with my dog and see a waterfall or two.

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Shayla August 21, 2017 at 6:09 am

I love making my way to hikes that offer a water source of some kind! My dogs love to play in it, and so do my kiddos! These look beautiful!

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