I’m a sucker for a hike that leads to a waterfall – and one that has a pool I can swim in? Even better! While the water was still quite frigid, this was a solid 5+ mile (roundtrip) hike with many places to view the falls, both from afar (best for those with small children) and up close (requires some scrambling).
Why we love it: Parts of the trail have this amazing purple dirt I don’t think I’ve seen before. It’s less Jolly Rancher purple and more brown with a purple hue and just beautiful. To do this hike, you have to really want to do it – it’s a bit of a challenge once off of the freeway (a good part of the way is on dirt and gravel), and I’ve rated it as “moderate,” so not for beginner hikers. As such, you won’t find the same level of heavy traffic on the trail you’ll find elsewhere. The reward is the beautiful waterfall!
For the Young Ones (0-10): I would only recommend this trail for the littles who are experienced hikers. While the beginning of the trail seems pretty simple and flat, there’s little shade until you get to the more challenging part of the trail. I’d recommend shoes with solid tread for all to avoid slips as you approach the falls. Kiddos will be amazed by the falls, and near the top there’s a nice shady area to sit under and eat lunch.
For the Big Kids (10+): Getting in the water is so. much. fun! If you look at the panoramic photo above, you’ll see two teens scaling the rocks on the far side, well beyond the trail. (They were looking for the perfect spot to dive in.) Teens and adults (and experienced younger hikers) can boulder down the rocks to get to the water and just stay on the rocks there. There’s not a ton of space, but certainly enough to share and get your feet wet.
Keep in Mind:
- The directions I followed to the trailhead were not ideal. Make sure that if you come from CA-20 from Marysville, you take the Hmtn. to Smtsvl. Rd. to your right (after approx. 18.5 miles), and then a left onto Chuck Yeager Rd.. Then take a left onto Waldo Rd. (after approx. 5.5 miles), which takes you onto the dirt and gravel roads. You’ll take a left onto Spenceville Rd. and cross a wooden-decked bridge. See the screen shot photo to the right for helpful hints (with thanks to the commentor!).
- There is no beach area at the falls, so either stay up top near the trail or be cautious bouldering down to the water.
- Look for the sign for the falls (see photo above) when you come to a crossroads, about two miles into the hike. We did the lower trail on the way to the falls and the upper on the way back. The lower has a greater risk of slipping on part of the trail, but the upper has a steeper grade. Neither were particularly difficult as an adult, but you may choose to do just one or the other in and out.
Difficulty Level: Moderate. (Please review my “Difficult Level of Hikes” page.)