Pennyweight Falls, California

Pennyweight Falls (23)

Pennyweight Falls in March 2016

Pennyweight Falls isn’t one of those waterfalls I set out to find. I had visited a friend in northern California, and he mentioned that there were a waterfall not far from him. As I was driving down Iowa Hill Road, which is relatively steep and a bit narrow at times, I noticed a waterfall off to the corner of my eye. I had to be careful, as sometimes I get a bit distracted by waterfalls, so I kept going, and then turned around. The road continues on for a ways, but I just wanted to find these waterfalls.

At the bottom of the road as you cross a bridge over the North Fork of the American River, you can see Slaughter Ravine Falls. It’s the more obvious of the two falls. Pennyweight Falls is the waterfall off to the side, and to view the falls better, you have to pull off to the side of the curvy road. Luckily, there was enough room to pull off. Another car was parked, and it seemed there might be some trail you could follow. I decided to get a shot of Pennyweight Falls, and continue on my journey. It wasn’t until later that I found out I had viewed a recorded waterfall.


  1. From I-80, take exit 135. (I was heading north on I-80.)
  2. You’ll take a right on Canyon Way. (It’s a very short distance…could be a bit confusing.)
  3. Continue on Canyon Way to Iowa Hill Road. Turn left onto Iowa Hill Road.
  4. Follow Iowa Hill Road down to the Iowa Hill Road Bridge (with Mineral Bar on the other side of the river). Pennyweight Falls can be viewed from the last “sharp” curve before you reach the bridge.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~400′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Pennyweight Falls?

Black Hole of Calcutta Falls, California

Black Hole of Calcutta Falls (8)

Black Hole of Calcutta Falls in March 2016

I arrived in in Sacramento yesterday, at it has been raining and cloudy much of the time. I noticed that it was supposed be sunny one of the days, so I decided to do the long hike to Feather Falls (which has been on my list for a while) on that day. That left me with a day to wander around a bit. Some waterfalls were likely off the list of possibilities due to snow at higher elevations, so I tried to limit myself to waterfalls that would be easily accessible.

When I was searching for waterfalls, one of the books I had just bought (which I haven’t found to be wildly impressive) said the hike to Black Hole of Calcutta Falls was 4.2 miles round-trip, and that deterred me at first. Looking online, though, I discovered that the hike seemed to be a much more manageable 2.2 miles round-trip. I was passing right by the trailhead, so I figured this would be a good choice.

The hike to the falls was very enjoyable. While it is 2.2 miles total hiking, almost all of it is on a trail that has very little incline. There are a few places where you might be climbing up or downhill, but they are few and far between. At no point did I wish I had avoided the hike. It actually felt much shorter than the distance advertised!

Since it’s been raining so much here, the falls were flowing very well! (I’m imagining this week would be a spectacular week to see most of the waterfalls in the region.) The falls were impressive (compared to what I was expecting). There are a number of other waterfalls in the vicinity also, though I didn’t check any of those ones out.


  1. From I-80 (exit 119B), head “east” on CA-49. (You might not be heading east at first.)
  2. Follow CA-49 for a few miles until you come to an intersection of CA-49 and Old Foresthill Road. Turn right on CA-49.
  3. Very shortly after turning right, there will be a parking area right after the trailhead (which is pretty clearly signed). There were a few other cars parked there when I arrived, so it was pretty obvious this was the place to be. (Google Maps also has the trailhead location on their map.) (I had read one post somewhere that said tickets might be given for parking at a certain place, but I’m not sure if this was it, and I didn’t receive one…?)
  4. From the trailhead, you hike along the Quarry Trail/Trail to Calcutta Falls. You’ll be headed in the right direction if you cross over the No Hands Bridge. (This bridge is an old railroad bridge…I was a bit hesitant at first because it is a bit high up above the North Fork American River, but it is wide enough that I was able to cross without having any heights-related issues.)
  5. After crossing over the No Hands Bridge, continue following the trail (which runs parallel to the river), and you’ll end up at the falls after 10 minutes or so. There’s a bridge right in front of the falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 2.2 miles round-trip
Height: ~40′

Where in the World is Black Hole of Calcutta Falls?