The Carson Show

Hiking to Carson Falls on Mount Tam

{MARCH 2024 NOTE: This trail can be very slick and muddy right after rains, so wait for a decent dry spell before embarking on this hike and be sure to have good hiking boots. Exercise good judgment and caution when you do visit.}

Carson Falls is ready for primetime. This three-tiered, 100-foot stunner is hidden back in a canyon outside of Fairfax and reached on a 3.25-mile (round-trip) hike. The start of the hike is on a wide-open dirt fire road that offers up southern views of Mount Tam’s East Peak and the rolling Marin foothills.

Hike up this fire road for about a mile, with no waterfall in sight. You’ll then leave the fire road and dip into a dense forest on a singletrack trail. Hear that? Waterfalls are a-comin’! A series of short switchbacks leads you to the top of the falls. A rocky outcropping lets you get a closer look, but from up here you only get a partial perspective.

So be sure to cross over the old wooden bridge and make your way down to the base of the second tier, where the vantage is bigger and bolder. You can carry on to one more tier below, but after rains this section can get boggy with mud, and the trail may be closed off beyond that point. Return the way you came.

{MARCH 2024 NOTE:This trail can be very slick and muddy right after rains, so wait for a decent dry spell before embarking on this hike and be sure to have good hiking boots. Exercise good judgement and caution when you do visit.} From Highway 101 in Marin, exit Sir Francis Drake Blvd. toward San Rafael. Go about 6 miles to the town of Fairfax. Turn left on Pacheco, immediately right on Broadway, then left on Bolinas Rd. Follow this for 3.8 miles (go past the turn-off for Bon Tempe Lake and past the golf course). Park in the large pullout on the left (it fits about 20 cars.) Cross the road and go through the gate and up the fire road; this is Pine Mountain Fire Road. When the road levels after a mile, turn left onto Oat Hill Fire Road. Hike 0.25 mile to Carson Falls Trail on the right. Follow this down 0.25 mile to the falls. Dog-friendly!

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Cañada Collage

    This 4.3-mile loop through Cañada Del Oro Open Space Preserve showcases all the highlights of the season, thrumming with wildlife and wildflowers.

  2. The Beauty of Bainbridge Island

    You know a place is special when locals head to it for their in-state vacations. Follow the lead of Seattleites and venture to beautiful Bainbridge Island in the heart of Puget Sound on the Kitsap Peninsula. Hike the Grand Forest here, meet Pia the Peacekeeper, and enjoy tasty food and drinks.

  3. Little Norway

    There aren’t many small towns in America that look and feel like Europe, but Washington State sure seems to have a few! Lesser known among them is Poulsbo on the Kitsap Peninsula. Dubbed “Little Norway,” this hamlet on the waterfront of Liberty Bay is charmed with Scandinavian influence.  

  4. old church on Monterey Path of History

    Path of History Walk (+ Food Bonuses)

    Monterey’s 2-mile yellow tiled, multilingual Path of History is a do-it-yourself stroll among some of the area’s most interesting, beautiful, and culturally significant sites, including through the Old Town, past Mexican-era adobes, and to the beautiful Royal Presidio Chapel.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    A Very Bavarian Spring

    Ready to change up your spring scenery? Pack your bags for this alpine adventure in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains. The Bavarian-style hamlet of Leavenworth could be a stand-in for a mountain village in Europe.

  2. Be Dune-spired!

    There’s only one urban park on the planet that helped inspire a major theme in Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi book, Dune. Herbert was born and raised in Tacoma, and Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park is named in honor of his famous novel—a tribute to one of the book’s main ideas ...

  3. Go Big in Bremerton

    Make your way to the largest city on the Kitsap Peninsula, Bremerton. Best known for its naval and maritime heritage, there’s also plenty of outdoors to explore, including a hidden treasure within the Puget Sound Basin: the Keta Legacy Foundation Rhododendron Preserve.

  4. Dume in Bloom

    During wildflower season, nature puts on a spectacular show, and one the best places to see it is at Point Dume Natural Preserve in Malibu.