Discover Mill Valley’s Cascade Falls, a Bay Area Gem

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Not only is El Niño filling our reservoirs, it’s producing spectacular water displays all over California. One of the most accessible waterfalls in the Bay Area is an easy and scenic hike from downtown Mill Valley to Cascade Falls Park.


Along the way you’ll pass through a historic part of town where the Bay Area's first sawmill was built in the 1830s, providing most of the timber to build early San Francisco. You’ll also spy a few remainders of the summer cottages that once lined the canyon, most of which have now been remodeled or rebuilt into much larger homes.

How to Get There: 

The charming town of Mill Valley is located off Hwy. 101, ten minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Take the East Blithedale exit and head west on Blithedale towards Mt. Tamalpais. When you reach downtown, make a left onto Sunnyside Ave. Park where you can.

The Hike: 

Start at the town clock near Lytton Square. 

  1. Go up the hill on Bernard St. and after one block, turn left onto Lovell.
  2. In the second block, admire the majestic brick building perched above the street on your right. This is the former Mill Valley Library – now a private residence.
  3. Veer left onto Olive St. then turn right onto Throckmorten Ave.
  4. At the stop sign, cross the street onto Cascade Drive as it angles across Old Mill Park. On your left you’ll see the site of the old sawmill. Restrooms and a water fountain are available here. 
  5. At the traffic circle continue right on Cascade Drive.
  6. After about 0.8 mile look for a trail on your left, after crossing the creek on an old concrete bridge (opposite the #320 mailbox). This trail may be impassable on a very rainy day due to high water and slippery conditions. If that’s the case, continue on Cascade Drive.
  7.  The trail soon climbs a bit past what’s know locally as the Three Wells, a series of deep pools eroded over the years into the rock.
  8. At the junction of two creeks, the trail comes back to Cascade Drive.
  9. Cross the street to Cascade Falls Park.
  10. The falls are a short walk up the creek. Bear right to cross the foot bridge.
  11. You can ascend the narrow trail left of the falls to cross another footbridge and loop back.
  12. For the return, proceed down Cascade and then go onto Throckmorten for the return to downtown. Be sure to admire the current public library on your right just before the traffic circle.
  13. Another option to return is to continue up the trail after the 2nd footbridge to Lovell Ave, then head right and return downtown.

Other Things to Do: 

For those that want to extend the hike, use this guide to the many steps and hills around Mill Valley. 

There are numerous restaurants in Mill Valley with reasonably priced fare. Among our favorites are Beerworks for small plates and ales, Boo Koo Asian street food, and Joe’s Taco Lounge on Miller Ave.