The 5 Best Winter Waterfall Hikes Around the Bay Area
Just check the water levels before you head out
February’s supposed to be the wettest month of the year, though these days, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
But here’s to an appropriately seasonal end of season, with plenty of rain to feed the waterfalls and nudge those wildflowers into bloom come March.
Below, five of our favorite waterfall hikes in the region, from true classics to a couple farther-flung selections.
In brief: While the Steep Ravine trail can take you all the way to Stinson Beach, a better option might be to make a loop from Pantoll — head toward the ocean on the Dipsea, then head back on the Steep Ravine. The Steep Ravine parallels Webb Creek and its cascades if you catch optimal water levels — the easiest way to check is to scan Instagram for the latest pics. It’s easy to add extra mileage by incorporating a tour of the Matt Davis Trail.
Drink after: Mill Valley Beerworks
In brief: A rite of passage for hikers in Marin, Carson Falls is a multi-tier waterfall in the middle of some gorgeous rolling hills. The exposure early on makes this a particularly good choice for the cooler months.
Drink after: Gestalt Haus in Fairfax
Distance: 3.7-mile out-and-back
In brief: Berry Creek Falls is just one of several waterfalls along this path through Big Basin State Park. Any recent rain makes for full waterfalls but also for lots of mud, so bring appropriate footwear — this is a long day, but a pretty one, with stops mid-hike at Silver Falls and Golden Cascade.
Drink after: It’s slightly out of the way if you’re heading back to the city (i.e. north), but just south of the park is the inimitable Tyrolean Inn, with köstritzer and hühnerschnitzel.
Distance: 11.2-mile loop
In brief: A tour through the waterfalls at Uvas Canyon is only one of the attractions to this corner of the Santa Cruz Mountains near Morgan Hill — they’re close enough to the chi-chi Rosewood CordeValle that they’re part of resort’s recommendations. Add on a trip down Knibb’s Knob trail for terrific views of the South Bay from the peak.
Drink after: The Running Shop & Hops in Morgan Hill
In brief: Definitely one to check before leaving home, Brooks Falls is temperamental — wait for a rainy stretch. Get lucky and you’ll be rewarded with 200-foot falls; get (relatively) unlucky, and you might get killer views of the Pacific (and Pacifica.) Get socked in with fog and you might want to head right down the peninsula to Uvas Canyon.
Drink after: Devil’s Slide Taproom in Pacifica for your craft beer of choice
Distance: 2.2-mile loop
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