My friends had two requests as I researched this hike: views and something easy. So when I saw pictures of flowing waterfalls and read that it was only three and a half miles, I was confident that this hike would deliver on both. Oops.
It’s not actually that the trail to Carson Falls is hard. It’s that it’s 80% exposed, so at noon during a Bay Area heatwave the 800′ of elevation feels punishing. And, since it’s the time of year we experience heatwaves, the waterfalls weren’t, shall we say, gushing.
To be fair, the views of the hills, lakes and East Bay on the way to and from the falls were pretty nice. And the company was stellar!
Crowd factor: Quiet
Exposure: Mostly exposed but the last leg is blissfully shady.
Distance: 3.5 miles via Pine Mountain Fire Road.
Difficulty: Moderate, primarily due to the heat and time of day. Another time of year this would probably be easy.
Pro tips: Perhaps try this one in the spring, when it’s cooler and there’s (hopefully) more to the waterfalls than just some dripping moss. Or skip it altogether.
Date hiked: 6/17/17
Source: 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area by Ann Marie Brown