Larson Creek Falls, Oregon

Larson Creek Falls

Larson Creek Falls in August 2018

Larson Creek Falls was an unexpected find. Exactly a year ago, my partner, my nephew, and I were in Oregon. We stayed at an Airbnb in Pacific City, and I was wondering whether there were any waterfalls along the way back to Portland that I hadn’t visited before. Google Maps has become a pretty useful tool for finding some different waterfalls as people can add points of interest. Larson Creek Falls popped up, and we had some time to kill, so we drove along the coast and found the falls.

I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to find the falls since we went searching on a whim, but it’s actually pretty easy. There are some stairs that lead down to the beach, and then you veer a bit to the right (north), and you’re at the falls. While the falls aren’t particularly wide, they are pretty tall. If you visit the falls, though, you also get the added benefit of being right on the Pacific Ocean. Larson Creek Falls doesn’t fall directly into the Pacific. There’s a hundred feet or so between the falls and the shore. The whole package is really spectacular.

Directions:

  1. In the map below, I’ve tagged Short Beach as the location. That’s because you want to find the trail/stairs that lead down to Short Beach. If you try to direct yourself to Larson Creek Falls, you’ll end up at a spot you can’t access. So from Tillamook, you could head west, and then southwest on OR-131. That would lead you to Netarts, and then Oceanside.
  2. You want to pass through Oceanside, and head north (turn right) on Cape Meares Loop. (OR-131 essentially turns into Cape Meares Loop, which then may turn into Bayshore Drive right around the parking area for the falls.)
  3. After 1.2 miles, you’ll come to an area where you can park on either side of the road. You’ll hopefully see a sign for Short Beach, though I don’t remember. There should be a trail on the west side of the road that then leads down to Short Beach.
  4. Turn right, and walk about 0.3 miles to Larson Creek Falls, which may be a bit back from the shoreline.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 90′
Length of Hike: 0.7 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Larson Creek Falls?

Queen’s Bath Falls, Hawaii

I was driving along Kauai’s northern shore hoping I might be able to find some waterfalls. One of the books I was using mentions a few different falls, but I honestly couldn’t find any safe way to stop at most of them. I knew that Queen’s Bath Falls existed, and so I decided to search for that instead (since it seemed to be an easier stop than some other falls).

After driving and finding the parking area (which was almost full, even on this moderately rainy day), I set off to to the falls. I found the hike to be very enjoyable. Along the way, you pass by a few other drops along the creek that turns into Queen’s Bath Falls. Once you arrive at the falls, it is really a beautiful view. The falls are headed into the Pacific Ocean, though it doesn’t look like it because there’s a cove of sorts that the water falls into. You get an awesome view of the ocean, the shoreline, and the falls. When I visited, there were a number of turtles in that cove, and it was awesome to watch them.

As you approach the ocean, I would suggest being cautious and careful. I didn’t find it to be particularly dangerous, but I could see how not being careful could lead to some issues. At the right time, it appears you can swim/bathe in the pool that’s formed near the falls. When I was there, the waves would have made that wildly impossible to do, so I didn’t even think twice about it. Be careful!

Directions:

  1. Follow HI-56 north along the shoreline. Enter the town of Princeville.
  2. In the town of Princeville, turn right along Ka Haku Road (if you were headed north).
  3. Drive along Ka Haku Road past some different condo/resort areas.
  4. Turn right onto Punahele Road. This is a road that forms a loop.
  5. Continue along Punahele Road to where it turns into Kapiolani Loop.  You will see a dirt parking area to your left, enough for maybe 8 or 9 cars. You should not be parking in front of any houses/condos.
  6. From there, you should see a trail head at the right side of the parking lot. It’s a pretty easy trail to follow once you’ve found it.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Distance of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip
Height: ~15′ per drop (would depend on tides)

Where in the World is Queen’s Bath Falls?: map

dsc_0665

Queen’s Bath Falls in July 2015

McWay Falls, California

McWay Falls in November 2010

I have this fascination with waterfalls that fall into lakes and oceans. There’s something so scenic about water falling into water. In California, there are a number of waterfalls that fall into the Pacific Ocean. Alamere Falls is one, and it is very beautiful, but because it requires a rather long hike, you’re likely to be one of just a few people visiting the falls. On the other hand, McWay Falls doesn’t require much of a hike, and is therefore far more popular. And understandably so, the California coastline is stunningly beautiful.

McWay Falls is approximately 80′ tall, but it is a rather narrow waterfall. This can tend to make the waterfall look small, and this is partly because you’re not exactly close to the waterfall. At the viewpoint, you’re standing above the waterfall maybe a few hundred feet away. So while it’s a beautiful view, it may not be one of the most intimate waterfalls I’ve seen. I actually found Canyon Falls, McWay Fall’s smaller upstream relative, to be more intimate, as I think I was the only one visiting the falls, and you’re only feet away. And there are other waterfalls in the area you should check out. I haven’t visited many of those waterfalls.

Directions:

  1. From Monterey, drive south on CA-1 for approximately 40 miles. The parking area for Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park should be on the left, if I remember correctly.
  2. After paying the state park entrance fee, follow the trail to McWay Falls. The signs make it very clear what to do. If you head in the opposite direction, you’ll find Canyon Falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 80′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

A small drop above McWay Falls (as you’re hiking to the falls)

Where in the World is McWay Falls?

Black Point Beach Falls, California

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.)

Directions:
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

Rocky Creek Falls, Oregon

This is the mystery waterfall in Oregon. As you drive north on US-101 in Oregon, you’ll notice that there are a multitude of state parks along the Pacific Ocean (and in the general area). I was having a hard time deciding where to stop and which parks to pass by. I ended up passing the first turn onto a road that leads to Devil’s Punchbowl and Otter Crest State Parks. Driving further north, there was another chance to turn and head back south to both of those state parks. I ended up turning left onto that road, not sure whether I would actually go to either parks.

As I turned onto the road, I quickly passed over a bridge and noticed a roadside turnoff that afforded a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. I got out, snapped a few photos, and realized that in the corner of my eye, I could see what looked like a waterfall down below. There wasn’t much to see, but what confused me is that looking near and above the bridge, I couldn’t see any river/creek/water flowing there…Where was the water coming from. It looks like there was a pipe above, so maybe some water was flowing from the pipe.

I got back into the car, decided to turn and head back north. I decided to stop on the side of the road (where there was a “parking” area) after crossing the bridge over no water just to see if I could get a better view of the possible falls. I got out, climbed down near the bridge, and realized there was this absolutely beautiful waterfall plunging right into the Pacific. Where the water is coming from is still a mystery to me. I’ve called it Rocky Creek Falls because its near Rocky Creek State Park on the map, though I’m not sure where the water is even coming from.

Directions:

  1. The falls are found off of US-101 south of Depoe Bay and north of Otter Rock. The Otter Creek Loop is found off of the main road, and can be accessed from two different locations.
  2. If headed south from Depoe Bay, Otter Crest Loop will be on your right. Drive less than a mile to pull-off on your right. There is a gravel parking area before the bridge and a paved circular parking area after crossing the bridge. The views are much better before crossing the bridge.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: Roadside

Rocky Creek Falls flowing into the Pacific

Where in the World is Rocky Creek Falls?

Upper Alamere Falls, California

Upper Alamere Falls, December 2009

Just a few hundred feet above Alamere Falls are three other extremely beautiful drops as Alamere Creek travels toward the Pacific Ocean. While not as tall as the final drop, these two are just as photogenic and actually easier to view closeup, especially if you don’t want to make the tricky trek down to the shore.

Even reaching the upper falls is still a task. As you’re approaching the upper falls, you’ll be standing 30 or 40 feet above them at one point, and you’ll have to negotiate your way down the slippery but well worn paths leading to the upper falls. It’s not too bad, though it can seem daunting at first. You are likely to get dirty as you scramble down, and you will want to cover your camera well in order to avoid any damage. It was one of the muddiest treks I’ve ever taken.

Directions:

  1. Head toward Olema, California.
  2. In Olema, head south on CA-1 for about 9 miles toward Bolinas.
  3. In Bolinas, turn right onto Bolinas Road, which doesn’t have a sign. A GPS helped me find the road.
  4. In a very short distance, you’ll turn right onto Mesa Road.
  5. Head to the very end of Mesa Road and park in the parking area.
  6. You’ll start on the Palomarin Trailhead in the Point Reyes National Seashore.
  7. After a short distance, you’ll connect onto the Coast Trail for 3.5 miles or so.
  8. On your left, you’ll see a sign indicating a 0.4 mile hike to Alamere Falls. Take this trail, which is EXTREMELY narrow. Dress appropriately, as there are MANY trees and bushes that are there to attack you.

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 8.8 miles round-trip

Alamere Falls-70

The middle drop of Alamere Falls

Where in the World is Upper Alamere Falls?

Alamere Falls, California

Alamere Falls in December 2009

Alamere Falls is one of those visual feasts that you’ll remember forever. Alamere Falls is found on Alamere Creek, which drops 40 feet into the vast Pacific Ocean. I’m a big fan of waterfalls that flow into oceans and lakes, so this was a great find.

First off, the hike is not simple, though it is also not terrible. It’s an 8.8 mile round trip hike, so beware. The hike is up or down, though the trail is surprisingly even. There aren’t many random rocks to make the hike more difficult.

Second, from what I have read, this fall (and a few others in the area) only flow in winter and spring during the rainy season. I visited three days ago, and it was flowing, so December is a pretty good time to visit, and the temperature was very pleasant.

Finally, the final “ascent” to the crest requires a caution. You have to maneuver down some slippery talus. You’ll need both hands available. Once at the crest, further exploration will reveal that you can get down to the base, though it’s not very obvious at first. I didn’t look as scary as I had thought, but I decided to err on the side of caution, since I was alone at the time. Still, it’s not an easy climb down to the base.

Directions:

  1. Head toward Olema, California.
  2. In Olema, head south on CA-1 for about 9 miles toward Bolinas.
  3. In Bolinas, turn right onto Bolinas Road, which doesn’t have a sign. A GPS helped me find the road.
  4. In a very short distance, you’ll turn right onto Mesa Road.
  5. Head to the very end of Mesa Road and park in the parking area.
  6. You’ll start on the Palomarin Trailhead in the Point Reyes National Seashore.
  7. After a short distance, you’ll connect onto the Coast Trail for 3.5 miles or so.
  8. On your left, you’ll see a sign indicating a 0.4 mile hike to Alamere Falls. Take this trail, which is EXTREMELY narrow. Dress appropriately, as there are MANY trees and bushes that are there to attack you.

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 8.8 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Alamere Falls?