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Lake Lagunitas, Bon Tempe and Alpine Lakes, Cataract Falls to Mount Tam Loop

Kentfield, California



14.78 miles

Elevation Gain

3645 ft

Route Type



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Nestled in the rolling hills just north of San Francisco, the Cataract Falls to Mount Tam Loop offers hikers incredible views of local lakes, waterfalls, and lush redwood forests.

This moderate 5-mile loop crosses over Cataract Falls, a gorgeous 25-foot waterfall cascading down the mountainside that is easily one of the most scenic spots on the entire trail.

The hike starts near the Alpine Lake parking lot off of Shoreline Highway, winding through peaceful forests alongside Alpine Lake, known for its crystal clear waters. The trail then passes Bon Tempe Lake, larger and surrounded by grassy shores, before switch-backing up towards Cataract Falls. Stand behind the misty veil of the falls for an invigorating thrill.

Continuing on, the path widens into the Benstein Trail, offering panoramic views across the rolling hills and towards the peak of Mount Tamalpais. Cool off by stopping at Lake Lagunitas, the largest lake on the route, great for fishing and non-motorized boating. The shady forest surrounding the lake provides welcome relief on a hot day.

To complete the loop, the route rejoins the Alpine Lake Trail back to the parking area. Late afternoon sunlight filters beautifully through the tall redwood groves along this segment. Keep an eye out for black-tailed deer, gray squirrels, and many species of woodpeckers native to these forests.

To get to the trailhead, take CA-101 N and exit at CA-131/Tiburon Blvd toward Tiburon/Belvedere. Turn left onto Reed Ranch Rd, left onto Stewart Dr, then look for parking on the right.

Some commonly asked questions about this hike:

  • Is the hike dog-friendly? Yes, dogs are allowed on leash.
  • Is parking available at the trailhead? Yes, there is free parking.
  • Do I need to bring drinking water? Yes, there are no water sources along the trail.
  • How difficult is the hike? Moderate, with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain.
  • Is there an entry fee? No, the hike is free.

With its peaceful lakes, forest scenery, and refreshing waterfall, the Cataract Falls to Mount Tam Loop is a perfect introduction to hiking on Mount Tam. Come prepared with plenty of water and sun protection to fully enjoy this beautiful area.

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