Spring is the perfect time of year to head out on a hike—gorgeous wild flowers, perfect temperatures and minimal bugs. This year we are in for an extra treat as El Nino has brought in some sporadic rain and the waterfalls are flowing. For the best viewing wait a few days after a rainfall and head over. The littles will be amazed and you may even get a decent hike when you go on your “waterfall hunt.”

Uvas County park morgan hill

South Bay

Uvas Canyon County Park, Morgan Hill
The aptly-named Waterfall Loop Trail is where all the action is. This 1.5-mile loop is conveniently located close to the parking lot (and bathrooms). You’ll first encounter Granuja Falls, then continue upstream for more waterfall action. A narrow, more challenging path follows the south side of the creek while a wider and more suitable for little ones path is on the north side. Be sure you don’t miss the Black Rock Falls – follow the signs that head right from the Waterfall Loop Trail. The Black Rock Falls are impressive and offer tons of selfie-taking opportunities.

Address: 8515 Croy Road, Morgan Hill
Online: sccgov.org

Sandborn county park saratoga

Sandborn County Park, Saratoga
Just a short drive up Highway 9 from downtown Saratoga will get you to Sandborn County Park. Turn right after the ranger station and park near the visitor’s center. Start by exploring the Nature Trail where you will find many smaller waterfalls. More adventurous hikers can continue on the steep (but short) Peterson Trail to the Sandborn Trail to find a great waterfall that you can cross over to get to the campground. If you visit after a rain day, you may spot some salamanders that love to swim in the small ponds by the visitor’s center.

Address: 16055 Sanborn Road, Saratoga
Online: sccgov.org

portolla redwoods saratoga

Photo courtesy of Paul N. via Yelp

Portolla Redwoods State Park, La Honda
Head to Portolla Redwoods State Park and you will be deep in redwood country. This park has great spots for camping and tons of hiking options for even the youngest hikers. The visitor’s center is worth a stop as it’s full of animal bones and tons of information about the area. Hikers looking for a waterfall should take the Inverson Trail from the visitor’s center and watch for signs to Tiptoe Falls.  Return to the visitor’s center via the Sequoia Nature Trail to hike past Shell Tree, the remains of a 17-foot diameter redwood that was destroyed by a camper’s fire in 1989.

Address: 9000 Portola State Park Road, La Honda
Online: parks.ca.gov

sunol regional wildernessPhoto courtesy of Ramyaa V. via Yelp

East Bay

Sunol Regional Wilderness, Sunol
Little Yosemite is the waterfall to see when you visit Sunol Regional Wilderness. For the short 1.7-mile hike, park by the visitor’s center and cross a large bridge on to Camp Ohlone Road. Follow the road and the signs to Little Yosemite, then return via the same route. A longer and more scenic route takes you to the waterfall via Indian Joe Trail. Make sure your visit includes a stop at the Old Green Barn Visitor’s Center where you can see Native American artifacts and learn about the naturalist-led programs at the park.

Address: 1895 Geary Road, Sunol
Online: ebparks.org/parks/sunol


Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve, Redwood City
This preserve is conveniently located right off 280 in Redwood City. Known for its picturesque picnic spots and spring wildflowers, there are a few small waterfalls that are worth discovering if you follow the Sylvan Trail. Along the way, look for deer, lizards and other creatures that make this preserve their home.

Address: 10 Old Stage Coach Road, Redwood City
Online: parks.smcgov.org/edgewood-park-natural-preserve

cataract falls marin

Photo courtesy of David S. via Yelp


Cataract Falls, Fairfax
Marin is well-known for its many beautiful waterfalls and Cataract Falls is up there on the list. The most direct route starts at the Fairfax-Bolinas Road trailhead and hikes along Cataract Trail to the waterfall. This hike is best suited for older children as it is rocky and not suitable for strollers. Many small waterfalls along the way bring you to Cataract Falls.

Address: Fairfax-Bolinas Road, Fairfax
Online: everytrail.com

dawn falls fairfax

Photo courtesy of B. B. via Yelp

Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve, Kentfield
The Dawn Falls trail is a kid favorite as it is short (less than 3 miles round trip), relatively flat (until you get the falls) and ends with the beautiful Dawn Falls. Parking can be sparse but you can often find street parking on Madrone Ave before you get to the trailhead. Follow the path along Larkspur Creek through the cool madrone forest on your way to the falls. Keep an eye out for California Pacific giant salamanders lurking in the creek’s pools.

Address: Blithedale Ridge Road, Kentfield
Online: marincounty.org

Taken any wet walks this spring? Let us know your favorite below!

–Kate Loweth

Photos courtesy of the author except where noted.