We found Oneonta Gorge by accident on our way to Horsetail Falls. We were walking along the pedestrian bridge when we spotted a stairway off to the side and a super mossy wall. It seemed like a secret passage, so we went.
We followed the wall away from the bridge; the wall was, in fact, the side of the gorge and completely covered in moss and small plants. There was no one else on the little path, and we had to climb boulders to proceed. We bouldered over a 15-foot pile of rock and found ourselves in an enormous, green gorge — surprisingly full of people. Honestly, Oneonta Gorge was one of the most beautiful sights any of us had seen. I felt I was in a movie or the garden of paradise.
The people were another thing. What were they doing here? There was no sign to mark the entry, but there’s a group of 10 kids under 8 years old over there. We were puzzled and amazed.
Later we learned Oneonta Gorge is well documented online, I mean what wonderful place isn’t. We looked around that Sunday and then came back a couple of days later. The only other person there was a woman with a wetsuit and a professional camera who was making her way up the Gorge. My online sources explain that it’s a freezing but awe-inspiring trek up the gorge to Lower Oneonta Falls. We didn’t do it as there was so much water and it was so cold. It was Spring, after the rainiest year in many, many years. But I’ll be back to hike the Gorge!
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Cascade Falls is a moderate two miles roundtrip with little change in elevation. There’s no parking lot at the trail head but there are a few pull out parking spots. I went several times this Spring and each time there were three to ten cars parked on the street. If you hike here in Summer the waterfall will be dry or mostly dry.
To get there, drive west from Hwy. 101 on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard about 5 miles to the town of Fairfax. Turn left on a street called Pastori where there is a traffic light, and then make an immediate left and go one block down to Broadway and turn right. Drive up Broadway and as you are leaving the center of Fairfax turn left onto Bolinas Road. From Bolinas Road make a soft right on Cascade Drive and follow it until you get to the end. Trail starts at the gate at the end of the road.
Few more notes about Cascade Trail at this link and below.
Distance: This is a great hike for young kids because it’s only 2 miles roundtrip and it’s quite level. As far as I can see the trail doesn’t continue after you get to the Falls. However, there are other trails that crisscross the main trail so you can take one of those to make this a longer hike.
Parking: No parking lot. A few pullout spots. Be careful not to block a driveway. I went 3 times in Spring and had no difficulty parking.
Dogs Allowed: This is the Marin Municipal Water District which allows dogs.
Coffee, icecream, beer, lunch, dinner: Fairfax is a scenic small town and you have to go through it to get to the trail. I stopped each time for a coffee or ice-cream and that made it an especially relaxed and wonderful day.
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