One of the Black Point Beach waterfalls (May 2013)
I love to find waterfalls that are along shoreline, and California has a few very impressive examples, including Alamere Falls and McWay Falls. Both of those are south of San Francisco. If you head north along California 1, you’ll a few other less impressive waterfalls along the California shoreline (and maybe one or two others that are more interesting).
The beach and cliffs around Black Point Beach are stunning, I will admit that! But the waterfalls there are usually trickles, at best. I’m not sure that many people will go out of their way to find these two, though they do exist. I can imagine after an impressive rainfall that they might just perk up a bit, but otherwise, you’re better off searching for other waterfalls and activities in the region. (Stornetta Falls, another possibly more intriguing waterfall further north, was essentially dry during my late May 2013 visit, which suggests your best bet is much earlier in the year.)
1) While driving along CA-1 heading north, you’ll pass through Salt Point State Park. Continue along CA-1 for 7 miles or so.
2) Pay attention, because on the left, you’ll come upon a gravel parking area for Black Point Beach. Park here. (There may be a fee.)
3) From this parking area, follow the trails somewhat northwest toward the shoreline. At the cliff’s edge, you should find a stairway down to the beach. I wasn’t a big fan of this (don’t like heights), but bucked up and headed down.
4) Once on the beach, head to the right (north). You may find two or three falls along the beach, depending on the recent rainfall levels.
Accessibility: 9/10 (stairs!)
Where in the World is Black Point Beach Falls?: map
The second visible waterfall
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).
- From Monterey, head south on CA-1 to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
- Turn left into the entrance for the park. There is a state park day fee per vehicle.
- Instead of heading toward McWay Falls, head in the opposite direction toward the picnic tables and the Canyon Trail.
- 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)
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Canyon Falls?