I’ve been climbing, hiking, and biking at Sugarloaf State Park for 25 years but it was not until a few weeks ago that I went on the popular waterfall hike. I generally go to Sugarloaf to climb to the top of the 2700 ft summit of Bald Mountain so the 1 mile hike to the waterfall never seemed challenging enough. This is a must do hike.
A few weeks ago I took a group of boy scouts to Sugarloaf for a campout, and a simple hike. They told me that they wanted to go see the waterfall. I thought “Oh come on you guys, your boy scouts, lets go to the top of Bald Mountain” but I kept my mouth shut and let them decide where we should go. The trail is super simple but since we are boy scouts, we grabbed a few free maps at the visitor center and set off for our hike.
We started at the kiosk located at the park entrance and headed down Adobe Canyon Rd (the road that brought us into the park). We walked about 150 yards, and saw the Canyon Trail trailhead on the left side of the road. We hiked down the Canyon Trail a half mile till we came to a sign with an arrow stating “Waterfall”. The waterfall was just around the corner. To get a good view, we climbed over a few rocks but once in position, the view was awesome. The location of the falls isolates you from the rest of the park. You can not see the road, campground, or other visitors other than those at the waterfall. The water falls about 20-25′ high, and crashes down onto the boulders below, collecting in a shallow pool. I wished I had brought a small chair so I could relax and just let the sound of the water take me to another place. Unfortunately, I had 15 kids who had other plans.
We completed our hike by continuing down the Canyon Trail until it came to Adobe Canyon Road again. We crossed Adobe Canyon, walked up the road 30 yards, and caught the Pony Gate Trail on the opposite side of the street which took us back to the kiosk. Round trip the hike was about 2+ miles.
Due to the nature of the water cycle in California, the waterfall hike would be best done in spring. I do not know if water even flows in that river August or September.
If you want to shorten the hike, I’d recommend just hiking the Canyon Trail to the waterfall, then turning back. This would make it slightly over 1 mile total. The trail is steep and would be difficult for somebody who had balance or walking disabilities. Some parts of the trail has stairs build into it.
No dogs or bikes on this trail. Water and bathrooms are available at the park visitor center. The trail is moderately strenuous but short. Poison Oak is abundant and there is a fee to bring a car into the park. Beware of Rattlesnakes especially on the Pony Gate Trail.
Sugarloaf State Park is located in Kenwood, a mere 10 minute drive from Rincon Valley