Waterfalls, albeit few and some elusive, can be found on trails just outside of Half Moon Bay. Hikers can take their pick from visiting the Coast’s most accessible waterfalls: Brooks Falls off the Brooks Creek Trail in San Pedro Valley County Park, Tiptoe Falls off the Iverson Trail in Portola Redwoods State Park, and Berry Creek Falls at the Waddell Beach trailhead and Sempervirens Falls off the Sequoia Trail, both in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
San Pedro Valley County Park includes 1,250 acres of hiking. Hike the Brooks Creek Trail in search of the elusive Brooks Falls, which when active drops 175 feet in three tiers down the sheer side of Montara Mountain. If you can’t find the falls since they run best during the rainy winter months, take in the views. The refreshing ocean breeze is an unexpected bonus. (Directions: Highway 1 in Pacifica to Linda Mar Boulevard. Turn east and go to the end. Follow the sign to park entrance.)
Portola Redwoods is a beautiful park situated between Long Ridge Open Space Preserve and Pescadero Creek County Park, with Big Basin State Park just over the ridge to the south. To get to Tiptoe Falls, a small waterfall about 8 feel high, start out on the Iverson Trail to Pescadero Creek. The waterway is lined with ferns and horsetails and is very nice after a few days of rain. (Directions: Take Skyline Boulevard south to Alpine Road. Turn west and continue for 3.4 miles to the junction with State Park Road. Turn left and continue another 3.3 miles to park headquarters.)
Perhaps one the most popular waterfall in the area is Berry Creek Falls at the Waddell Beach trailhead in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The falls are actually a series of four falls: Cascade Falls, the Golden, which is named for its golden shimmer; it drops down into Silver Falls, a silvery cascade; and Berry Creek Falls, the lower falls, are the largest and, some would say, the prettiest of the three. The falls create a lovely pool and grotto area to rest. The hike begins at the Rancho del Oso Gate at Waddell Beach. (Directions: Highway 92 west to Half Moon Bay. South on Highway 1 for 30 miles to Waddell Beach, which is located a few miles beyond Ano Nuevo State Park. Park in the large beachside parking lot or adjacent to the Rancho de Oro gate on the east side of Highway 1.)
Another great waterfall in Big Basin, but a bit further of a drive for Coastsiders to get to the trailhead, is Sempervirens Falls off the Sequoia Trail near the park's headquarters. The falls is one of the oldest in the park and was built perhaps as early as 1875. Sempervirens Falls is a 20-foot waterfall on Sempervirens Creek. The water level can be pretty low in the dry season, so this waterfall is best viewed shortly after rainfall. (Directions: Take Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. Take Highway 9 north for 15 miles. You will pass through several mountain towns and eventually arrive at the town of Boulder Creek. In Boulder Creek there is one stop sign. At this stop sign you will turn left onto Highway 236/Big Basin Way. Stay on this road for 9 miles and you will enter the Park. Proceed to park headquarters.)
By Christa Bigue