Address: 38.811551, -120.121569 (Near Twin Bridges/ Pyramid Creek Parking: Parking lot at the address above. $5 fee at self pay station. Hours: Not posted Type: Hike (difficult) Regulations: Dogs allowed on-leash Best time to visit: Right after a good rain but before the snow falls. Mid-October was the perfect time to visit.
Description: This is a challenging hike to a 500-ft waterfall with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. The hike up to the actual waterfall is challenging because there is not a clearly marked trail and it requires a lot of boulder climbing. You can easily shorten your hike and still have great views and an easier hike. A quarter mile up the trail you will see a small cascade, which is a popular picture spot. Less than a mile in, you will see a much larger cascade, over 100 ft, which some have mistakenly thought was the actual waterfall and end of the trail. Other sites report this hike as only 4 miles round-trip, but our hike was nearly 7 miles. We were able to hike about 1/3 of the way up the actual waterfall, and although it’s possible to hike to the top, it is not recommended. The boulders become steeper and larger, and nearly impossible to climb with a dog. Our vantage point was perfect, and I will describe our route below.
From the parking lot, pass the restrooms and you will see a trail map. Hike past this and the trail will lead up a small hill and along the highway until you see a small cascade of water. Walk past this and you will soon see a sign marking the trails. Veer right and the trail seems to disappear for a bit until you notice stairs cut into the rocks. This will take you to a large cascade and you can hike up along the boulders to get a better view. Continue to follow the creek and sounds of the flowing water so you do not get lost. Soon you will see a small structure with a solar panel on top and what appears to be a bridge in front of the creek. You will also see the waterfall in the distance in front of you. Continue along the creek and you will notice hiker icon trail signs stapled to the tree trunks above you. You will come to a sign for the “Wilderness Boundary” (note that you do not need a permit for day hikes). Walk past this and soon you will come to a clearing with the creek straight ahead and a large board to your left (which may have hosted a map at one time). To the right of the board you will see a trail sign on a tree trunk. Take this narrow trail up and you will cross shallow water. You will soon come to a point where large boulders surround you. If you look to your right, you will see two narrow tree trunks with initials carved into them. Hike past these and you will come to a creek. We initially though this was a dead end but discovered that this is the trail. We had to hop across a couple logs and wade through some water to follow the trail up along the canyon. We ended up back in the forest and found the trail by hiking with the waterfall directly in front of us, although trees periodically obstructed it. We came to a large boulder that almost looked like a cave beneath it, and followed this trail up until it because a trail of small boulders. There were a couple places where I had to help Bailey up large boulders, and I was careful to guide her in areas where she could slip so she would not hurt her paws. If you’re worried about your dog at this point I would turn around, as the trail only gets more challenging. Once the boulder “stairs” end, you will have to scramble up larger boulders to climb the waterfall. After a few hundred feet of climbing, we found a place to sit on the edge of the waterfall and enjoy the view. There was not a safe route to continue climbing from there. We carefully retracted our steps past the wilderness boundary, and continued straight ahead to take the remaining loop trail back. This trail was not well defined, but we followed the sounds of the large cascade from the creek (straight ahead) and eventually returned to the first trail sign, which led us back to the smaller cascade and then to the trailhead.