Published on January 14, 2020
Waterfalls and Water Wonders
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
The rainy season is an amazing time to experience the wonders of water, using all your senses, in Midpen preserves — be captivated by the sights and sounds of rushing creeks and waterfalls, breathe in the cool, fresh air and gently touch the soft green mosses. Here’s a list of great places to explore in Midpen preserves when the water is flowing:
- Stevens Creek Nature Trail, Monte Bello Preserve
Check out our guide, including photos and video clips, to enjoying the Stevens Creek Nature Trail in the rainy season on a 3-mile loop hike.
- Crazy Pete’s Waterfall, Coal Creek Preserve
This 3-mile out-and-back hike takes you to a small but beautiful waterfall on Crazy Pete’s Road (trail), which is dog-friendly (on leash). Our partners at the Peninsula Open Space Trust offer details of the hike here
- Purisima Creek and Harkins Bridge, Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve
The Purisima Creek Trail provides many opportunities to stop and enjoy rushing waters flowing over and around rocks and logs through a magical redwood forest. Harkins Bridge at the bottom of the Purisima Creek Trail, where it connects to Harkins Ridge and Whittemore Gulch trails, has a steel cable railing that makes it easy to see down to the water, even for little kids.
- Webb Creek Bridge and stream crossings, Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve
The Webb Creek Bridge, located a couple miles up the Alma Trail, is a great place to stop and admire and listen to the creek flowing under a canopy of redwoods. If you continue past junction #03 onto the aptly named Redwood Springs Trail, there are a few spots in the first half mile where you will come across streams flowing from the springs in the hillside.
- Dennis Martin Creek, Thornewood Preserve
With enough rain, Dennis Martin Creek, running down from Schilling Lake along the Bridle Trail, features small waterfalls and pools, some created from remnants of historic logging operations. Caution: heavy rains can make a creek crossing required if you start the Bridle Trail from Old La Honda Road. To avoid this, plan to hike out and back starting from the more northern parking lot off La Honda Road/Highway 84.
- Guadalupe Creek Cascade, Sierra Azul Preserve
After strong rains you can see the water of Guadalupe Creek cascading down the rocks at the Guadalupe Creek Overlook, located 2.2 miles from the top of the Mount Umunhum Trail.
- Virginia Mill Trail, El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve
This is not an easy hike but if you make the journey along the Virginia Mill Trail down to the large bridge over El Corte de Madera Creek after lots or rain, you will discover big flows through log jams and moss-covered boulders. Although the forest is second-growth, this spot will give you the feeling of being deep in a primordial forest. Note that there is no off-trail use in this preserve and the closest parking is a pullout at gate CM08.
A few honorable mentions:
- Los Trancos Creek on the Lost Creek Trail, Los Trancos Preserve
- Old Page Mill Trail and Lambert Creek Trail, Skyline Ridge Preserve
- Corte Madera Creek and Hamms Gulch on the Hamms Gulch Trail, Windy Hill Preserve
- Check the trail conditions for closures or maintenance updates before heading out.
- Be prepared for muddy and cool conditions; dress appropriately.
- Streams and ponds are habitat for many wild creatures. To help protect them, and for your own safety, swimming, wading and other water activities are not allowed in Midpen preserves.