There’s no need to work up a sweat on a waterfall hike, especially if the hike is a family-friendly, one-mile round trip to Fairway Falls, a seasonal gusher in Ignacio Valley Open Space Preserve near Novato. The cataract offers its best rewards just after a hard rain, when a swath of water takes a fierce, 30-foot tumble through a forested ravine into a rock-lined pool and the fast-flowing, foamy creek below.
The trail following the creek bed is flat and easy most of the way, but don’t forget to wear waterproof shoes, as you’ll likely get your feet (and Maverick’s paws) wet in places where the path crosses the stream.
If you’re up for a thigh-burner, continue up the path past the first falls and follow Arroyo de San Jose to view three smaller cataracts.
Dogs on the trail are allowed to accompany you off-leash if under voice control. The Ignacio Valley, Loma Verde, Pacheco Valley and Indian Valley preserves, all part of the Marin County Parks & Open Space District, are connected, with trails for all abilities criss-crossing the diverse landscape. Throw a towel in the car and bring drinking water, as there’s none available on site.