Canyon Falls, California

Canyon Falls in early November 2010

McWay Falls is clearly the main attraction at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park on the Pacific coastline of California. It’s very clearly marked and can be seen from the trail leading to a viewpoint.

But there’s another waterfall hiding in the park. Canyon Falls is overlooked. McWay Falls is beautiful, but I felt detached from it. You’re standing at a considerable distance from the falls. On the other hand, Canyon Falls is much more intimate. You can walk right up to the falls, and while it might not be as scenic, it is still beautiful.

Hiking to the falls is relatively easy. The Canyon Trail leads directly to the falls. The other trail that you might get lost on was closed when I visited, so I didn’t have to worry about that. The only tricky part is crossing McWay Creek. Now it’s not even that deep, but it’s just wide enough that you could easily get wet. If you’ve got the right shoes, then that shouldn’t be a problem. Just be aware that it is slippery crossing the makeshift log “bridge” (and I mean bridge very, very loosely).


  1. From Monterey, head south on CA-1 to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
  2. Turn left into the entrance for the park. There is a state park day fee per vehicle.
  3. Instead of heading toward McWay Falls, head in the opposite direction toward the picnic tables and the Canyon Trail.
  4. You’ll cross McWay Creek on the way to the falls. When I visited, there were borders directing us to the falls (though there are no signs indicating it’s there). I’m not sure if those makeshift fences are always there.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Canyon Falls?


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