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Hikes in the Bay Area: 9 trails with waterfall endings

From Golden Gate Park to the beaches of Point Reyes

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The suffocating heatwave has, at last, cooled off. Slightly. But relief is relief. And the upcoming weekend calls for more sun, the perfect time to take a hike with a refreshing ending.

Uvas Canyon County Park, a formerly obscure South Bay hiking retreat, is now so popular for its Instagram-friendly waterfalls that it now requires reservations on weekend. The winter rains have revitalized the Bay Area’s rivers, and turned native waterfalls into spectacular Instagram moments. There are even some waterfalls right here in San Francisco.

Here are a few picturesque destinations for hikers outside of Uvas Canyon (busy as it’s bound to be again this weekend), from the humble to the mighty, from the famous to the obscure.

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Carson Falls Trail

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A series of small waterfalls on Pine Mountain, these are not as impressive as some of the peaks and summits listed here. But they’re a relatively easy hike, and they are as photogenic as some of their bigger cousins elsewhere.

A post shared by Carolina Velasco (@musita387) on

Alamere Falls

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This 30-foot-tall cliff overlooks Wildcat Beach near Pt. Reyes. One of only two California falls that feed right into the Pacific, it’s one of the North Bay’s most ideal outdoor destinations—and also one of its most remote, requiring a 13-mile hike to reach.

Dawn Falls Trail

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Lack of rain in recent years almost dried up Dawn Falls near Larkspur. Luckily, it surged back to life, as brash and bubbling as ever. Many people like to jog the trail, so don’t forget to bring your running shoes.

Cataract Falls

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Long one of Mt. Tam’s most visited destinations. As the popular hiking site Bay Area Hiker puts it: “Judging the series of falls on the north slope of Mount Tam is like critiquing the high school beauty queen who is headed for Harvard and volunteers in her spare time—itt’s hard to say one harsh word.” Hiking time to falls estimated around two hours each way.

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Rainbow Falls

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Who says the San Francisco’s small towns get all the Instagramable fun? Head over to Golden Gate Park to check out a gusher in action. Located just of John Kennedy Drive. Fun fact: According to Golden Gate Park, “In 1930, the colored lights that originally illuminated the falls during its dedication led to the naming of Rainbow Falls.” You will no longer see the lights, sadly, but you will be able to catch the best water show in San Francisco post-rainfall.

A post shared by DJ Carmin Wong (@thedjwong) on

Huntington Falls

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Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat: The first artificial waterfall installed in Golden Gate Park was Huntington Falls, which flows down Strawberry Hill, spilling into Stow Lake. “While you’re at the Falls, don’t be afraid to climb up the adjacent stairs past the surrounding sculpted rocks to look down over the top of Huntington Falls at Strawberry Hill,” suggests Golden Gate Park.

Berry Creek Falls Trail

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This ferny 60-foot drop is part of the famed Waterfall Loop hike in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. This is one of two Berry Breeks in Northern California, one confined to Big Basin, the other near Lake Oroville.

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Uvas Canyon County Park

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Uvas Canyon Park is an 1,100 acre retreat near Morgan Hill. Hiking site Bay Area Hiker calls it “too remote to be used an exercise track” and thus a favorite haunt of hikers. Conveniently, its most popular route is also flat enough for beginners to traverse with ease. Be sure to check out the gushers in action if yuo plan on trekking the trails today.

Sheba seemed to have a great time playing around by waterfalls today.

A post shared by Ian Johnston (@ijohnst) on

McWay Falls

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McWay Falls, south of Big Sur, is the state;s other ocean-feeding waterfall. Few things are as emblematic of the pristine natural beauty of the California coast than this 80-foot spill down to the beach. Nineteenth century homesteader Christopher McWay named the creek after himself.

A post shared by Mo (@m_sharaf) on

Carson Falls Trail

A series of small waterfalls on Pine Mountain, these are not as impressive as some of the peaks and summits listed here. But they’re a relatively easy hike, and they are as photogenic as some of their bigger cousins elsewhere.

A post shared by Carolina Velasco (@musita387) on

Alamere Falls

This 30-foot-tall cliff overlooks Wildcat Beach near Pt. Reyes. One of only two California falls that feed right into the Pacific, it’s one of the North Bay’s most ideal outdoor destinations—and also one of its most remote, requiring a 13-mile hike to reach.

Dawn Falls Trail

Lack of rain in recent years almost dried up Dawn Falls near Larkspur. Luckily, it surged back to life, as brash and bubbling as ever. Many people like to jog the trail, so don’t forget to bring your running shoes.

Cataract Falls

Long one of Mt. Tam’s most visited destinations. As the popular hiking site Bay Area Hiker puts it: “Judging the series of falls on the north slope of Mount Tam is like critiquing the high school beauty queen who is headed for Harvard and volunteers in her spare time—itt’s hard to say one harsh word.” Hiking time to falls estimated around two hours each way.

A post shared by MyPostcard (@mypostcardapp) on

Rainbow Falls

Who says the San Francisco’s small towns get all the Instagramable fun? Head over to Golden Gate Park to check out a gusher in action. Located just of John Kennedy Drive. Fun fact: According to Golden Gate Park, “In 1930, the colored lights that originally illuminated the falls during its dedication led to the naming of Rainbow Falls.” You will no longer see the lights, sadly, but you will be able to catch the best water show in San Francisco post-rainfall.

A post shared by DJ Carmin Wong (@thedjwong) on

Huntington Falls

Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat: The first artificial waterfall installed in Golden Gate Park was Huntington Falls, which flows down Strawberry Hill, spilling into Stow Lake. “While you’re at the Falls, don’t be afraid to climb up the adjacent stairs past the surrounding sculpted rocks to look down over the top of Huntington Falls at Strawberry Hill,” suggests Golden Gate Park.

Berry Creek Falls Trail

This ferny 60-foot drop is part of the famed Waterfall Loop hike in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. This is one of two Berry Breeks in Northern California, one confined to Big Basin, the other near Lake Oroville.

A post shared by clifbar (@clifbar) on

Uvas Canyon County Park

Uvas Canyon Park is an 1,100 acre retreat near Morgan Hill. Hiking site Bay Area Hiker calls it “too remote to be used an exercise track” and thus a favorite haunt of hikers. Conveniently, its most popular route is also flat enough for beginners to traverse with ease. Be sure to check out the gushers in action if yuo plan on trekking the trails today.

Sheba seemed to have a great time playing around by waterfalls today.

A post shared by Ian Johnston (@ijohnst) on

McWay Falls

McWay Falls, south of Big Sur, is the state;s other ocean-feeding waterfall. Few things are as emblematic of the pristine natural beauty of the California coast than this 80-foot spill down to the beach. Nineteenth century homesteader Christopher McWay named the creek after himself.

A post shared by Mo (@m_sharaf) on