11 Best Waterfall Hikes In San Francisco Bay Area, California

waterfall hikes in bay area

San Francisco is not a city that you would want to miss when it comes to traveling in the USA, particularly in California. How can you resist the charms of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge? What about the Victorian houses scattered across the city? Let’s not forget about boarding the cable car to travel around. When in San Francisco, be sure to stop and see San Francisco Bay Area, a region that covers cities such as Oakland and San Jose. The most interesting thing about the San Francisco Bay Area is perhaps its waterfalls. Thus, be prepared for an exciting outdoor adventure of hiking to reach all the waterfalls. Keep reading to find out the best waterfall hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.

Travel Advisory

Trip101 recommends assessing the risks before hitting the hiking and trekking trails. Please be especially aware of the difficulty levels, the locations’ ground conditions, as well as the seasonal risks.

1. Alamere Falls

Source: Photo by user Renedrivers used under CC BY 3.0

The first waterfall hike on the list is Alamere Falls, a beauty you must not skip. Situated in Point Reyes National Seashore, Alamere Falls is going to take your breath away with its tide of water that falls freely from an altitude of 40 feet (approximately 1.2 meters) to the ocean. In addition to the waterfall, you can also marvel at the view of Bass Lake. You are welcome to enjoy a swim to refresh yourself after a moderate hike. While hiking the trail, you will be surrounded by brush and forests. Other than hiking, visitors also come to Alamere Falls for bird watching. One thing to take note of, you should not bring your furry friend to accompany you as the trail is not dog-friendly.

Alamere Falls

Address: Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

2. Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls Trail
Source: Photo by user Ben Myers used under CC BY 2.5

If you are looking for a short hike with the difficulty level range from easy to moderate, then Cascade Falls is the one you want. Nestled on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, the pretty waterfall can be found inside Emerald Lake State Park. Enjoy a wooded area along with lush greenery as you make your way to the waterfall. Following the San Anselmo Creek Trail, you will come across the main Cascade Falls. If you are willing to pursue further, you will arrive at Plunge Pool and Upper Cascade Falls, whose views are just as gorgeous as the main waterfall.

Cascade Falls

Address: Cascade Falls Trail, Fairfax, CA 94930, United States

3. Dawn Falls

Set in Larkspur, Dawn Falls is another hiking trail that you should consider because of its moderate difficulty level and scenic vistas along the way. The trail to the waterfall is open throughout the year, but the best and most popular months are between April and September. For different kinds of experiences, it is recommended that you hike during summer when you get to enjoy the shade of the redwoods and during winter when you can admire the trees that are mostly covered with moss.

Dawn Falls

Address: Dawn Falls Trail, Larkspur, CA 94939, United States

4. Cataract Falls

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Cataract Falls Stinson Beach California</div>
Source: Photo by user Ilya Grigorik used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Among the waterfalls in San Francisco Bay Area, Cataract Falls is probably the most beautiful of them all. Why? Because Cataract Falls consists of a series of small waterfalls that flow rapidly into Alpine Lake, an artificially made lake. There are so many cascades that you may not remember how many there are in total, even when you start to count them in the beginning. The hike is considered to be moderate and it will take approximately two hours to complete. During the hike, you will have to climb to higher ground and many of the steps are indeed steep.

Cataract Falls

Address: Cataract Trail, Stinson Beach, CA 94970, United States

Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (daily)

5. Carson Falls

What about Carson Falls? You are going to love this waterfall hike because it is both short and easy. You will not meet so many steep and rocky paths. There is only a single trail that is well maintained and easy to follow that even a small child will find it easy to hike. To get to Carson Falls, you need to find your way to Pine Mountain Road. The trail for coming and leaving is the same.

Carson Falls

Address: Carson Falls Trail, Bolinas, CA 94924, United States

6. Uvas Falls

Upper Falls, Uvas Canyon Park
Source: Photo by user the_tahoe_guy used under CC BY 2.0

Set adjacent to Morgan Hill within Uvas Canyon County Park, Uvas Falls is loved by hikers for its remote area. Not so many people use the trail to exercise, thus you can have maximum enjoyment and tranquility during your hike. The trail is flat and easy, even for those with no previous hiking experience.

Uvas Falls

Address: 8515 Croy Rd, Morgan Hill, CA 95037, United States

7. Murietta Falls

If you happen to be in Livermore, you should consider trying this waterfall hike, especially if you are an experienced hiker. Unlike the other falls trails, a hike to Murietta Falls is a rather long one and it requires four to five hours to accomplish. What’s more, this waterfall hike is considered to be extremely challenging, if not the most exhausting, in the San Francisco Bay Area. You will encounter a group of big rocks and muddy paths along the way. But once you reach the top, the dramatic views of the falls are not something you will soon forget.

Murietta Falls

Address: Livermore, CA 94550, United States

8. Little Yosemite Falls

Little Yosemite Fall (8199414975)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rennett Stowe used under CC BY 2.0

You may not have the time required to explore Yosemite National Park. But no worries, when you cannot reach the big, you can reach the little. Situated in Sunol, Little Yosemite Falls offers the views of the waterfall and oak trees that are just as magnificent as the ones in the national park. The hike is easy and short, but do remember that when you get to Alameda Creek, you may be tempted to swim because the water is so clean and fresh. But, you are not allowed to do so.

Little Yosemite Falls

Address: Little Yosemite Valley

9. Peter Creek Falls

Source: Needpix

If you can complete a trail both ways in less than one hour, you will want to do it, right? Head to Peter Creek Falls trail for a fun and easy trail. You may not ride your bike and bring your dog, so it is going to be just you and nature. You can enjoy the views of numerous small waterfalls here.

Peter Creek Falls

Address: La Honda, California

10. Black Rock Falls

Upper Black Rock Falls
Source: Photo by user Hydrargyrum used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Last but not least is Black Rock Falls, which is situated in the same place as Uvas Falls. Black Rock Falls is the largest fall that you can find within the park and to get to the waterfall, all you need to do is follow the little easy path. Be sure to pause and look around every now and then as you will be rewarded with the views of lush forests.

Black Rock Falls

Address: Fish Creek, Inyokern, CA 93527, United States

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

An adventure in San Francisco

With a myriad of splendid attractions in San Francisco, you will think that they are enough to make your vacation as wonderful as possible. But actually, they are not. You have to include the waterfall hikes in your itinerary, even though you may not be a huge fan of hiking. The views of the waterfalls are going to be worth your effort. Enjoy hiking!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Tenissa is a content writer, translator and editor. She enjoys being a globetrotter and has traveled to many countries around the world. So far, her favourite destination is Switzerland. She looks...Read more

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