Uvas Canyon County park is one of my favorite local park in South San Francisco Bay Area. Tucked in the forested canyon, the park’s main attraction is seven waterfalls with heights from 10 to 55 feet.
The best time to visit falls is right after significant rain when creeks are full.
Hike to Triple Falls
When we first hiked in March of 2015, it was almost dry. We were so disappointed that next year we skipped it altogether. After the unbelievable wet February, I booked the parking on late Saturday. I should confess, I was afraid that a dry week would slow or dry some of the falls. But it wasn’t so. Trails were partially dirty, and the air was full of moisture.
The trail spur from Alec Canyon to Triple Falls looked like it faced a massive stream of water recently. Walls of the canyon had broken trees. Downed redwoods laid in the stream bed. The trail was washed in two places. But when we walked to the clearing and saw the first glimpse of the falls I was speechless.
The falls are huge!
So I should say, we were very late in the park. We arrived shortly after 4 PM with sunset around 5:30. The trail to and back from Triple Falls is more than 2 miles. So we were tight on time on the waterfall loop.
We saw 5 people in the park during this time. I think the introduction of the reservation system is a great thing.
Black Rock Falls
But let me return back to our hike. When we hiked to the 0.1-mile trail to the Black Rock Falls it was 4:40, objectively it was less than 30 mins of good light. And it was my reasoning of skipping the hike to the upper portion of Black Rock Falls. But you should not do it. Black Rock Falls is arguably the most picturesque falls in the park. The lower part is less pleasant and could be seen right from the bridge.
From Black Rock Falls the trail leads to the Basin Falls. The falls are better seen from the other side of the creek. When the creek has no high water, it’s easy to cross it. We did in 2016. This time, it was to wet, and the water was too high.
Upper Falls are my favorite. Though not the highest in the park but broader than all other – almost 15 feet. To get the best view of the upper section, you need to scramble or walk upstream, thankfully creek here hasn’t high water. The best view is a few minutes before sunset during the golden hour while the sun is still up above the walls of the stream.
To reach falls, you need to follow the lower section of the trail that is closer to the Swanson Creek from Upper Falls. After the first bridge, Little Falls are in around 0.1 miles, right before the next bridge across the stream.
There is another good angle of the falls after town nearest bridges.
After Little Falls trail leads to the old dam, built by early settlers. Before the it, you need to cross the creek. From here the trail leads back to the parking or down to the lower footbridge and Granuja Falls.
Before crossing the stream, walk down to the wide bank of the Swanson Creek. It’s a first place to shot Granuja Falls. The second place is, of course, a footbridge above the creek. The rock stairs after the bridge leading to the third place to check the falls.
Lower Falls via Swanson Creek Trail
The sun set when I photographed Granuja Falls, and it was too late to hike to the Lower Falls. However, it should not be missed. Here is the photo from 2015
- The park has a high period from the end of January up to June. During this time you need to book parking in the park week in advance. The parking fee is $6.
- Official park page. Also here you can find the trail map.
- Uvas Canyon County Park is around 28 miles or 40 mins from San Jose; or 75 miles, 1.5 hours from San Francisco
- Park has no or limited cell service
- You can camp in the park
- The best way to combine all falls in one hike is:
- Start with Alec Trail to Triple False – ~1.3 miles;
- Return to Contour Trail to Upper Falls – ~2 miles;
- Then visit Basin and Black Falls – less than 0.2 miles;
- From Back Falls return to the Waterfall Loop and select the path closer to the stream – less than 0.1 miles
- Follow it to Little Falls and then to Granuja Falls – ~0.5 miles;
- After it, walk Swanson Creek Trail to Lower Falls – 0.26 miles;
- Return back to the parking lot the same way via Swanson Creek Trail, or take Uvas Creek Trail to Campground – ~3 miles
- The best water flow in all falls will be after the significant rain. Triple Falls could be almost dry most of the year
- All posts about Uvas Canyon County Park
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