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Morgan Hill, California, United States

Waterfall Tour of Uvas Canyon County Park

The best easy hike south of California's Silicon Valley.

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 (5 votes, 2 reviews)
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.0 miles / 1.6 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
 
Overview: Uvas Canyon is a treasure tucked in the hills just beyond the suburban bedlam of Silicon Valley and the South Bay.

Spring-fed creeks keep the water running all year -- albeit at a trickle in the summer and fall -- but winter is the best time to come, especially after a big storm blows in off the Pacific Ocean. Local hiking clubs often make Uvas their official New Year's outing.

You can hike up to seven miles while checking out the falls, but the best ones are all along the Waterfall Loop, which is about a mile and a half. The loop tracks a gorgeous stretch of Swanson Creek so you can turn back at any time.

If you're feeling more ambitious, hike to the far western end of the loop and continue till you reach the crossing over Swanson Creek. Contour Trail climbs sharply back to the east, climbing a ridge that opens at a bench overlooking the nearby mountains. From there it's not far to Triple Falls, the most remote Uvas waterfall.


Tips: The road to Uvas Canyon leads through the small resort of Sveadal -- be very careful here, as you may have to yield to oncoming traffic, while watching for resort visitors.

Uvas Canyon can be quite cold first thing in the morning: you'll want some insulation at first, but the hike will warm you up quickly, so you'll be peeling off layers in short order.

Watch for poison oak on narrow sections of trail.

What to bring:
Water/snacks
Layers
Camera (and tripod if you have one)
Trail map from sign board in parking lot

Points of Interest

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Parking lot, Uvas Canyon County Park

Park in the first lot on your right after entering the park.

From here, walk up past the restrooms to a paved park road. The road splits -- straight ahead takes you directly to the Waterfall Loop. A right turn and a short downhill walk takes you to the optional hike along the Swanson Creek Trail.
map

Swanson Creek Trail

Follow the paved park road to the right. At the bottom, just before the bridge, is a trail sign on the right for Swanson Creek Trail.

Turn right here and follow the trail, which parallels Swanson Creek.

Eventually the trail turns and arrives at the confluence of the Uvas and Swanson Creeks. A very pretty waterfall that few hikers visit will be off to the left.

Typically there's too much water in the creek to cross safely. Take a few pictures and retrace your steps back to the bridge over Swanson Creek.
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Granuja Falls

This small waterfall is the first of many on the Waterfall Loop, which continues upstream from here.

Waterfall Loop has a series of bridges that allow hikers to walk on either side of the creek. The south side of the loop is a narrow single-track with tricky footing in places, while the north side is a wide dirt road with much more elbow room.
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Black Rock Falls

Take a side trip to this waterfall, one of the biggest at Uvas.

It's about a quarter of a mile up the trail from Granuja Falls. You'll cross a bridge over a stream and see a right turn just up the trail. Turn right there and go around the bend to see Black Rock Falls.

Note the rocks get very slippery near the falls -- if you get too close, you're apt to lose your footing and land on your fanny.
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Upper Falls

Back on the Waterfall Loop heading west, this is the most scenic of all the Uvas Canyon waterfalls -- a great place to take group pictures.
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Basin Falls

Far western end of the Waterfall Loop -- watch for the sign for Basin Falls. A short, steep climb ends with the creek pouring into a pool, hence the title Basin Falls.

This is a great turn-back point if you're not up for more mileage. It's mostly downhill to the parking lot.

If you're game for a greater challenge, though, follow the trail along Swanson Creek up to the crossing to the Contour Trail.
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Creek Crossing to Contour Trail

Watch your step crossing the creek to Contour Trail. Many a hiker has come away from this crossing with wet socks.

Contour Trail starts on the opposite bank and heads eastward and uphill. This is a very quiet walk through a thick forest. Watch for mushrooms growing in crazy configurations.

After 1.25 miles the trail ends at Alec Canyon Trail.
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Alec Canyon Trail Junction

From here you can either take a left on Alec Canyon and return to the parking lot, or turn right and hike on to Triple Falls (a 1.5-mile out-and-back from this junction).
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Scenic overlook

Take a rest break at a bench overlooking Uvas Canyon and the surrounding mountains. The Diablo Range is visible far to the east.
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Triple Falls

From the bench overlook, it's about a half-mile to Triple Falls.

Making sure you don't go back the way you just came, head down the wide dirt road to a junction and sign pointing to Triple Falls.

The falls are about .2 mile up a fairly steep trail. Visually the falls are not nearly as impressive as the others in the park, but this is nevertheless a very serene, quiet stretch of forested trail.

The trail ends at a viewing stand at the base of Triple Falls. Rest there and retrace your steps.

You can follow Alec Canyon Trail all the way back to the parking lot.
Pictures in this guide taken by: tommangan, rogerwendt, pcmasten, dano23, Vaudesir
Reviews
Rev.Chuck
It was amazing, we got a bit of rain, but at the end it was all worth it
Visited on Dec 28, 2011

by Rev.Chuck on Apr 01, 2012
dabrew
Great place to go to beat the summer heat. Not too strenous, lots of shade, cool misty waterfalls, not too many people on the trail, and enough varied terrain to keep the kids from getting bored
Visited on Jun 18, 2011

by dabrew on Jul 08, 2011

Waterfall Tour of Uvas Canyon County Park Trail Map


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About the Author

tommangan
tommangan
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Keeper of Two Heel Drive, A Hiking Blog at http://tommangan.net/twoheeldrive |

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