Kevin's Hiking Page    

Murietta Falls

Del Valle Regional Park

Murietta Falls Links:

March 21st, 1998

11.0 miles
4490 vertical feet
Total Time: 6:52

Rating: 8/10

Directions:   View Driving Map

Carine, Joe, Reza, and I went to Del Valle Regional Park to hike up to Murietta Falls.

El Nino had done its damage in the months previous, but it'd been relatively clear and mild for two or three weeks. Time for the first hike of the year!

After paying the $4 for parking, we asked about the need for a trail permit. The ranger asked where we were going, and we told him the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. He laughed, "Oh yeah, you need a permit for that." For the record, each hiker needs a permit -- $2 each.

As we started the hike, there were high clouds, mid-60's, relatively high humidity. The forecast called for rain that night, but we hoped to beat it. We wouldn't.

The view a mile or two into the trail. This was actually taken on the way back. You can see part of Lake Del Valle on the left.

If you like climbing, you'll like the hike up to Murietta Falls. If you don't, stay far, very far away. Of all the hikes I've done, I'd have to say this was the most up-and-down; less than 10 percent of the hike was on level ground. The rest of the time, it was either killer climbs or steep descents. The climbing started immediately; we climbed almost 1500 feet in the first hour!

The Ohlone Wilderness Trail quickly takes you out into the middle of nowhere. We didn't see anyone else on the trail for the first hour or so. Then we saw a bunch of hikers. Two of them were resting, enjoying the view. A few hundred feet later, we met three other hikers resting by the trailside. Down the trail just a little further was a dozen or so cattle. The hikers claimed they were just resting, but we suspect they were waiting for someone to drive the cattle off the trail. We obliged and the hikers soon followed us.

After fending off the cows, we made our first big descent, down into Williams Gulch. Then, it was up, up, up to Wauhab Ridge -- 1600 feet of climbing in just 1.5 miles.

Then it was still more climbing, up to about 3400 feet, the highest point of the hike. Along the way, and along most of the hike, we passed rolling green hills with scattered oak trees and wildflowers. As we rose, we could see a low mist cover the 2000-foot hills we'd climbed earlier. Almost mystical...beautiful. Hobbitish. =)

There were many of these trees near the top of the trail. I think they're madrones, but I'm not sure.

After finishing most of the climbing toward Murietta Falls, we sat down for lunch on some rocks near Johnny's Pond. Fifteen minutes into our lunch, we felt the first few drops. And then it started raining on our little picnic. We scrambled to finish our lunch, pack our bags, and get moving again. The rain would follow us on and off for the next hour or so. Luckily, it was a relatively light rain, and with all the climbing we had to do we generated enough heat to stay comfortable. It did make things a bit muddy on the way back, however.

Carine puts on her poncho after rain interrupts our lunch.

After 5.5 miles of hiking up and down, we finally reached the falls. We first approached them from the top. We hiked cautiously (off the trail) near the top of the falls. It was hard to get a good view, however, so we made our way carefully down to the base of the falls. There, it was much more impressive. Framed in a steep cliff among the grassy hills, the water snaked its way down 100 feet to the pool below. Ahh...

Murietta Falls. I took a picture from the top, but it doesn't give any perspective.

Reza, getting soaked next to the falls.

Carine and I at the bottom of the falls

We made our way downstream a bit before returning to the main trail and starting the journey back. Unfortunately, we realized this wasn't a typical hike -- we still had a fair amount of climbing to do and several steep descents, which is always great on the knees.

The cows stare us down on the way back. Watch your back, Carine!

Among the day's animal sightings: a slug, a tiny orange baby salamander, squirrels, a hawk, and a hummingbird. We also had another face-off with the cattle on the way back.

Although the difference between our starting elevation and highest elevation was only about 2600 feet, our total climbing came to 4490 feet. Definitely a challenging hike. But great if you like that, and the falls are beautiful. Nothing like anything you'll see in Yosemite, but a stark contrast to the rest of the park and it is the highest waterfall in the Bay Area.

Note: this is the first hike for which I wore my recording heart rate monitor. See the results here.

Related Pages:

 Kevin's Hiking Page    
Copyright © 1995-2019 Kevin L. Gong