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Falls Trail Hike

Hike of the Month, March 2024 eNewsletter

Steve Smith, MDIA President

Falls Trail Hike

Scott Hein

It's that time of year again when the Winter rains have had a chance to fill up our mountain springs and creeks. As all of that water cascades down the mountain, one of the best features to explore are our waterfalls. This is a gorgeous hike no matter the time of year but made special by the sights and sounds of the rushing waters above, below and through the Falls Trail. Due to the popularity of this trail on weekends, if you can experience this during the week you will have it all to yourself.

There are so many ways to get there, but this is my favorite. Starting from Mitchell Canyon Road make your first left on Oak Road and continue slight right as it becomes Coulter Pine Trail. At its terminus hang a right up Bruce Lee Road and then make a tricky creek crossing. Then head right up Back Creek Trail, another gorgeous site. Make your first left onto Tickwood Trail and enjoy a journey through grassland, woodland, and chaparral before ending at Donner Canyon Road. Take a right and climb up the wide road to its terminus, turning right on Meridian Ridge Road and then a hidden left onto Middle Trail.

Hike among the gorgeous chaparral as you search out some lovely wildflowers along the way. At the junction continue straight onto Falls Trail and wind your way up and down some steep grades, pausing to admire rushing streams and the roar of water above. Keep checking your view as the triplet of falls comes into view. Continue around for a mile as you negotiate the rocky terrain and check over your shoulder often for the quintessential view of all three falls. Once at the end, turn right on Cardinet Oaks briefly then a left and down Wasserman Trail for a journey through chaparral, pine forests, oak woodlands and eventually riparian habitats as you near Donner Creek.

At the junction turn left on Donner Trail and head down to the creek, you may be ankle-deep crossing it. At the next junction turn right on Hetherington until crossing the creek again. At the main trail turn right onto Donner Canyon Road. Continue to a left on Murchio Road across the meadows, sure to be loaded with flowers. At its terminus turn right on Watertower Road, then left on Bruce Lee Trail, a small single track down the hillside. Re-enter the parking lot (you're now in the lower lot) and head back to your vehicle.

This adventure takes you 7.3 miles and 1500 feet of climbing and is guaranteed to wow you. 

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