Winter brings rain, and with the rains, waterfalls season starts. When mountains and their mighty falls are still covered with the deep snow, Bay Area local waterfalls bring joy.
This list includes waterfalls located in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Except for Long Ridge, you will need to pay for parking or entrance. Uvas Canyon also requires to book your parking permit at least a week in advance.
Some of the falls here require little to no hike when some need a whole day or even overnight trip.
The list doesn’t include coastal waterfalls that appear only after recent strong rains but dry during other times.
Memorial County and Portola Redwoods
Two of the off-radar redwoods park have two waterfalls: Pomponio Creek Waterfall and Tip Toe Falls. Both falls don’t require long hikes.
Here you can read detail about Portola Redwoods Park Tip Toe Falls.
Memorial County Park’s Pomponio Creek Falls are even less known than the park itself. Though they could be easily spotted from the footbridge above the creek. 24 ft falls base could be impossible to reach during the high water level which is why I will share only old shots from December 2016. Sources tell that the closest you can get to the falls is take a park service road that starts near Azalea Campground site #12.
From left to right: 1 – Pomponio Falls in Memorial County Park, 2 – Pomponio Falls from the top of the footbridge; 3-4 – Tip Toe Falls in Portola Redwoods State Park
Long Ridge Open Space
Long Ridge Open Space Preserve is home of sweeping vistas, wildflower-covered hills, and Peters Creek Waterfall. Read here about it.
Big Basin State Park
Probably, the most well-known location for chasing waterfalls, Big Basin State Park is a home of four waterfalls: Berry Creek, Silver, Golden, and Sempervirens Falls. First, three could be visited hiking a 10-mile loop. Read about this hike here
Sempervirens Falls could be reached via short easy walk or drive by. Also, read here about the hike and falls.
From left to right: 1 – Berry Creek Falls, 2 – Silver Falls, 3 – Golden Falls, 4 – Sempervirens Falls.
Castle Rock State Park
If you are not a climber, I bet you saw Castle Rock Falls only form the top of the Observation Deck. Though hardly photographed, Falls and the deck are the great places to rest and watch for a sunset over the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Uvas Canyon County Park
The best place in South Bay for seasonal waterfall hikes, Uvas Canyon County Park is a home for 7 falls.
Read here details how to visit all seven and what is required for that.
Forest of Niseni Marks State Park
Niseni Marks State Park is a home of two waterfalls and second grow redwoods forest, and are in Santa Cruz County rather than in Santa Clara. But park still is in Santa Cruz Mountains that’s why it’s in the list.
Maple and Five Finger Falls could be visited year round, and sometimes early summer is an even better time to hike when trails are fixed after storms and creeks are not very high. Both waterfalls are reachable with long hikes (more than 10 miles) but very impressive.
Read here about our hike to Maple Falls.
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