One of the best parts of winter in Northern California is the way the rain colors our landscapes. The golden brown hills turn a rich shade of green and our forests become lush with vegetation. Best of all, normally dry creek beds start to flow with and in some places, waterfalls appear along the trail.
Here are some of the best Silicon Valley hikes to do when you are looking for waterfalls. These waterfalls rely on rainfall and are best done in the weeks following a heavy storm.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park - Boulder Creek, CA
This Redwood forest park was established in 1902 and is California's oldest state park. It's home to the largest continuous group of ancient Coast Redwoods south of San Francisco so it's a rare opportunity to see these old-growth gems.
The park has more than 80 miles of trails. You can see Semperviron Falls on the moderate level Sequoia Trail. Check out the Berry Creek Falls Trail for a more strenuous hike, but views of the largest old-growth redwoods in the park and four different waterfalls including the 70-foot Berry Creek Falls.
Uvas Canyon County Park - Morgan Hill, CA
Uvas Canyon is a lush wooded Santa Clara County park on the eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The easy, three- mile "Waterfall Loop" trail lets you see three different waterfalls, Basin Falls, Upper Falls, and Black Rock Falls, a thirty-foot cascade. Add on the more strenuous Alec Canyon Trail to visit Triple Falls.
Leashed dogs are allowed on all trails.
Portola Redwoods State Park - La Honda, CA
A tranquil retreat from Silicon Valley, right over the hills into a dark and shaded redwood forest. Pescadero Creek is home to the lovely Tiptoe Falls. Fall Creek has a few other smaller tumbling falls. Dogs are only allowed in campsites, picnic areas, paved roads and the Upper and Lower Escape Roads.
San Pedro Valley County Park - Pacifica, CA
Hike the Brooks Creek Trails to see one Brooks Falls, of the tallest seasonal waterfalls in Silicon Valley. The thin cascades drop 175 feet in up to five tiers, depending on rainfall. You can either do a 1.2 mile round trip or a longer loop if you add on another trail. No dogs are allowed in the park.
Nisene Marks State Park - Aptos, CA
The redwoods trails in this Santa Cruz area state park has two seasonal waterfalls, Maple Falls and Five Finger Falls. There are also some smaller falls running through the parks' many streams. All trails are well shaded. Dogs are only allowed on the entrance road and in the picnic areas. Check out this site for a detailed guide to the park's waterfall hikes.