As a dog parent, I am always on the lookout for outdoorsy things to do with Babu, our little twenty pound Tibetan Spaniel mix. Thanks to living in San Francisco—a city surrounded by unparalleled natural beauty–exploring the outdoors with Babu has never been a problem. We have hiked our way through both the city and other parts of the Bay Area, but hikes that lead to a gorgeous waterfall have always been an added bonus!
Here are three waterfalls hikes in the Bay Area that are also conveniently super dog friendly. Due to the Bay Area’s plentiful winter rain, the best time to visit these waterfalls is in the spring to see them at their full glory.
Dawn Falls, Larkspur
About this hike: Dawn Falls Trail in Larkspur, is in Baltimore Canyon, a 193-acre preserve at the Headwaters of Larkspur Creek that is home to a series of trails that connect to the north slopes of Mount Tamalpais, as well as King Mountain and Blithedale Summit. The trail, an easy 1.1 miles, leads to its namesake falls, the beautiful Dawn Falls. The trail is dog friendly and moderate hiking skills are needed to navigate it.
Getting there: The trail-head can be a little confusing to find but if you park near a conspicuous “no outlet” sign on Madrone Avenue, you can walk a bit and spot it. You hike through the dense vegetation to the soothing sound of the Larkspur creek gurgling alongside and reach the falls.
Extra-credit: Post hike, do stop by Picco’s pizzeria, a short drive from the trailhead, for some yummy pizza on their dog friendly patio!
Cascade Falls, Mill Valley
About this hike: Cascade Falls in Mill valley is an easy drive from San Francisco and is located in Cascade Canyons Open Space Preserve on Cascade Drive.The hike is again shaded due to a dense canopy of vegetation and is suitable for beginners, being about 1.5 miles in length each way. The falls is located at the foothills of Mt. Tamalpais in Cascade Canyon and is a visual treat for a winter/spring hike.
Getting there: A small wooden sign with cheerfully painted words “Cascade falls” will greet you at the entrance near the parking lot across Cascade Drive.
Extra-credit: Stroll through Mill Valley’s beautiful downtown or savor a hearty Indian meal in the patio of Prabh Indian kitchen which is dog friendly.
Cataract Falls, Mt. Tamalpais
About this hike: Cataract falls hiking trail in Mt. Tamalpais is the only one that allows dogs. This trail is a long one, about 6.4 miles in a loop from the trail-head all the way to the falls and encompasses regions of shade and open fields. There is a picnic area near the falls in case you wish to end your hike with an outdoor lunch.
Getting there: The trail-head starts from the junction of east and west Ridgecrest and is very popular with hikers. So it is advised to come in early to find a parking spot.